Networking giant Cisco Systems announced the release of two 802.11n wireless routers, including the Valet family, a product line that aims to make home wireless simple and accessible for families through user-friendly design and easy setup process. The other router line, the Linksys E-Series, is aimed at technology experts and enthusiasts.
The Valet line comes in a standard and Plus model, retailing for $99.99 and $149.99, respectively. The Valet series also includes the Connector ($79.99), which upgrades an older computer to wireless and is a complement to Valet or Valet Plus. The E-Series comes in a variety of configurations ranging in price from $79.99 to $179.99.
Cisco said the Valet and E-Series lines are available immediately at Amazon, Staples and thevalet.com and will soon be available at big box retail stores like Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart and others. With Valet's separate wireless connection, guests can use their laptops or mobile phones around the house while the main Valet home network remains private, Cisco noted. Valet also provides a level of control for parents with tools to manage their family's online experience. Valet's Cisco Connect software lets parents set controls on the fly, so they can modify Web usage for certain days and times of the week, or even for temporary periods.
Consumers just insert the included Easy Setup Key right into a USB port in their PC or Mac, and the Cisco Connect software activates, which takes users through three steps from start to finish. The Easy Setup Key retains all setup information and can be inserted into additional home computers to add them to the home's wireless network.
While consumer demand for wireless products is on the rise with a tremendous array of new devices in the market, a recent research report from IDC reveals that only one-third of U.S. homes are set up for wireless use. At the same time, the demand for wireless-enabled products-such as mobile phones, gaming systems and music players-is extremely strong, according to ABI Research data that reports more than 264 million of these types of devices shipped worldwide in 2009.
"Valet is home wireless made easy. Consumers have felt powerless and frustrated with the entire process of home wireless, but with Valet we are tearing down the walls and opening it up to everyone," said Jonathan Kaplan, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Consumer Products. "With complementary backgrounds and expertise, our Cisco and Flip teams have combined forces to change the rules for home wireless with a product line that empowers consumers to easily set up, enjoy and manage all of their wireless devices anywhere in their homes."
The baseline Linksys E1000 Wireless-N router offers transfer speeds of up to 300M bps and four Fast Ethernet (10/100M bps) ports and retails for $79.99, while the next model up, the E2000 Advanced Wireless-N router ($119.99), offers four Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1,000M bps) ports for faster file sharing with other Gigabit-enabled devices and selectable dual-band (2.4GHz or 5GHz) technology to help avoid interference. Also available are the Linksys E2100L and dual-band E3000 High-Performance routers, which retail for $119.99 and $179.99, respectively.
The Linux-based E2100L uses four Fast Ethernet (10/100M bps) ports, offers a built-in UPnP AV Media Server to stream entertainment content to an Xbox 360, PS3 or other compatible device, and a USB port for connectivity to storage devices for file sharing at home or over the Internet. The E3000 features simultaneous dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) technology, four Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1,000M bps) ports and a built-in UPnP AV media server.
Also offered is an AE1000 wireless-N USB adapter to bring wireless-N capability to Windows desktop computers and laptops.
"Linksys pioneered the first home router 10 years ago, and 50 million units later is the world's leading provider of home wireless routers," Kaplan said. "The new E-Series caters to Linksys' core technology-minded consumer base, with a simplified product lineup that is ideal for today's sophisticated home network user."