The Linksys EA8500 Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router can operate as wireless bridge or extender has gone on sale at JB Hi Fi for $429.95.
While this is expensive one has to take into account that it has chipsets that deliver vastly improved coverage in an average home or office.
For example the new device is powered by Qualcomm's recently developed networking platform which allows multiple people to attach and use this router without signal degradation.
More than 85% of Australians are currently using routers which are more than three years old. These routers limit the amount of devoices which can be attached and they deliver a significantly inferior wireless signal.
The new router shapes its transmitted beam to raise output. This allows multiple users to not only get good connection speeds when watching Netflix, listening to music, gaming or downloading movies.
At the moment, Qualcomm's VIVE hardware is the only MU-MIMO technology being sold in Australia.
Broadcom and other companies recently demonstrated their offering at Computex with their technology set to be released by the likes of ASUS by October 2015.
The rectangular EA8500 has a rounded front with lots of vent holes and slots to keep it cool. At 25.65cm x 18.28 x 5.58cm, it is significantly smaller than other 802.11ac routers.
A dual-band 4X4 router, the EA8500's 2.4- and 5-GHz bands can each handle two lanes of data traffic. In addition to its four gigabit Ethernet ports, the system has a USB 3.0 connection as well as one that can be either a USB 2.0 or an eSATA port.
The router has four screw-on 7.5-inch paddle antennas. The external ones can rotate and swivel to get the best signal.
The key to MU-MIMO is that this technique sends out a test signal to each client to appraise its distance and data requirements.
Then the device configures the highest bandwidth beam it can deliver, using a technique called Space-Division Multiple Access (SDMA). This way, several clients can get top throughput at once without interfering with each other or slowing each other down.
A unique feature with this router is that you can turn the transmitters off with a switch in the back, effectively converting the EA8500 into a wired router for when you won't be at home and don't want to risk a wireless break-in.
The EA8500 also has switches for turning the router on and off, resetting the software to its factory specifications, and using its Wi-Fi Protected Setup.
The EA8500 uses a 1.4GH dual-core processor with 512MB of RAM; it stores its firmware, passwords and settings in 128MB of flash memory. The router can work with four individual channels of data and has Qualcomm's QCA9980 MU/EFX Mu-MIMO radio chip.
We will shortly do a review of this router up against the new Nighthawk AC 1900 which was released today.