802.11n or Bust?

Posted by: Cliff Edwards on May 10, 2007

It’s interesting how many companies continue to tout the upcoming 802.11n Wi-Fi standard as the best way to send video files around the home, even when there continues to be serious limitations to the technology.
Those limitations came into sharp focus when Intel held a press event on May 9 announcing its latest Core 2 Duo notebook platform. Execs practicing transferring video via wireless 802.11n the night before saw the stream work without a hiccup when compared to older Wi-Fi technology. But in the real world the next day during the event, where many reporters were using that same 802.11n Wi-Fi connection to browse the Web at the same time the demo was running, the newer technology actually performed worse than Intel’s combo 802.11a/b/g wireless chipset!
It’s a problem inherent with technology that shares bandwidth with many different devices. Since most wireless routers aren’t smart enough to prioritize data streams, the more devices that are connected the slower the connection speed for all those devices. With video, the issue is particularly vexing since any data loss during transmission of these large files leads to image stuttering.
It’s clear chipmakers and the consumer electronics industry have a long way to go before figuring this all out. Until then, building a truly “digital” home looks a very long way from reality.

Reader Comments

JP

May 10, 2007 4:53 PM

Building a truly digital home can be done with a wired network. Making it so easy to setup and use that even "Grandma" can figure it out is what's preventing widespread adoption.

Claude Gelinas

May 17, 2007 8:27 PM

Networks, wired or wireless, tend to have trouble shuffling large video files from one device to another.

The built-in 1000BASE-T (Gigabit) Ethernet port on my new Mac Pro seems to be very fast but I only have one such computer so I haven't been able to test the video streaming speed, yet.

If all my networked devices used such speedy (wired) connection ports, I believe my video streaming experience would be rather excellent!

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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