ZyXEL Communications released the AC2350, 802.11ac Wave 2 WiFi router, known as the Armor Z1.
The router employs 802.11ac Wave 2 with Multi-user MIMO- (MU-MIMO) ready and band steering- ready hardware, and support for wireless speeds of up to 2.33 Gigabytes per second (Gbps).
MU-MIMO delivers multiple data streams to multiple devices simultaneously, differing from single-user MIMO (SU-MIMO), which delivers data streams to one client at a time.
MU-MIMO is designed to increase network efficiency and ensure a better wireless experience for all users on the network.
"What we are seeing with increased speeds in home Internet provided by fiber technologies is that the home router is now often the bottleneck in speed," Shawn Rogers, product manager for channel sales at ZyXEL, told eWEEK. "Users want to take advantage of all the speed they are paying for, and the second wave of 11ac products are helping to remove that bottleneck. In addition to great 5Ghz performance, new technologies such as MU-MIMO and band steering will help optimize the usage of the bandwidth, to make sure consumers are getting maximum performance out of their WiFi networks."
Meanwhile, beam-forming technology amplifies and focuses WiFi signals directly to wireless clients. Four external antennas with amplified beam-forming capabilities increases the ARMOR Z1's Wi-Fi range for large homes, eliminating wireless dead zones.
Rogers noted that with bandwidth caps pushing mobile devices onto the already crowded home networks, the need for intelligent Quality of Service (QoS), like ZyXEL’s StreamBoost technology are becoming more and more important to balance bandwidth and latency demands of multiple devices simultaneously trying to maximize the home’s Internet connection.
Band steering gives more control to the gateway to determine which client devices support dual-band, and helps direct them to use the appropriate radio.
Traditionally, dual-band devices tend to favor the 2.4 GHz band, even when it is overcrowded.
Band steering helps to free up congestion on the 2.4 GHz band and creates a superior multimedia streaming experience when paired with MU-MIMO.
"ZyXEL is extremely focused on the simplifying of not only the initial setup of home networking devices, but making it easy for a non-technical user to monitor and control their home network," Rogers said. "The Armor Z1 is one of the first products to be released using our new OneConnect initiative which seeks to redefine how a user interacts with their home network. We will be rolling out the functionality to other products as the year progresses as well as adding functionality."
Other features include a 1.4 GHz dual core processor for network-intensive processing and USB 3.0 support for flexible storage and connectivity.
"One of the bigger challenges facing WiFi is that router technology moves faster than client technology," Rogers said. "So for the next few years we are going to see client devices playing catch-up to where router technology is today. For instance, the Sony Playstation 4 still doesn’t ship with basic 5Ghz support, let alone high speed 11ac. It is client- supported for higher 11ac speeds, MU-MIMO, and other technologies that is really holding back end user WiFi experience today."
Rogers said demand for higher wireless bandwidth on client devices will push WiFi and drive widespread adoption of higher performance routers for the home.