Our digital landscape is no longer just about how peripherals connect to PCs; it’s how our many digital devices connect to the Net.
Here’s a quartet of new hardware that handles input/output particularly well.
WD router offers screaming streaming speed
Although best known for its internal and external hard drives, Western Digital (WD) has aggressively branched out into wireless home-networking routers. When you’re breaking into an already-crowded market, you have to find a way to differentiate your product — and WD seems to have succeeded.
The WD My Net N900 (info) is engineered to accelerate movies, videos, and gaming by providing fast throughput to multiple users simultaneously. The router’s new FasTrack technology detects multimedia traffic on the network and gives high-demand media streams top priority, regardless of whether the recipients are smart TVs, tablets, smartphones, gaming set-top boxes, and, oh yes, computers, too. The NB900 handles all network traffic prioritization in real time.
The My Net N900 is the easiest router I have ever set up — I was on the Net in about five minutes. The package includes a CD with a PDF manual, but you probably won’t need it. After attaching a couple of Ethernet cables, I launched the exceptionally simple installation program, which automatically detected all my wired and wireless connections. A step-by-step setup process walked me through establishing an SSID, security pass codes, and permissions for attaching to the router’s dual 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands. The default 2.4GHz band is for guests, who can sign in to the Net but not my network; the 5GHz is for my network alone. In fact, the 2.4 band defaults to Western Digital-Guest.
My older Linksys dual-band, wireless-N router included only four LAN Ethernet ports — typical for most home routers on the market. The N900 includes seven LAN (and one WAN) ports supporting 10/100/1000Mbps wired-connection speeds. The box also has two USB ports for attaching external hard drives, printers, and suitable peripherals. Integrated, amplified antennas give the box a sleek look and extended range.
WD claims that the N900 can achieve speeds up to 900Mbps by combining its 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands (450 maximum from each band). To put this throughput to the test, I streamed a Netflix movie on my living room HD-TV via a wireless Roku box, streamed an Amazon movie on my bedroom Internet-ready HD-TV, and played a YouTube video on my iPad — all at the same time.