It appears that 2016 will be the year of MU-MIMO. Linksys is expanding the MU-MIMO market with the announcement of four new products in its Max-Stream series:
- EA7500 AC1900 Dual-Band MU-MIMO Gigabit Router,
- EA9500 AC5400 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router with MU-MIMO,
- RE7000 AC1900+ MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Range Extender,
- WUSB6100M AC600 USB MU-MIMO Adapter.
MU-MIMO is a wireless technology that bypasses the traditional round-robin limitation of sending packets of data by sending data simultaneously. Overcoming this bottleneck leads to an increase in performance, particularly in environments with multiple wireless devices using data intensive applications, such as online gaming or streaming content.
This past year, networking vendors tested the waters with MU-MIMO; we only saw a handful of MU-MIMO products, but this year at CES, vendors are giving us their all, and Linksys is no exception. Linksys has added two new Max-Stream routers to the fray.
The EA7500 might appeal to potential customers looking to add a router that can provide solid MU-MIMO coverage to their entire home network without extra frills. The EA7500 will feature a Qualcomm IPQ 1.4GHz Dual Core Processor, 802.11ac Wave 2 with MU-MIMO, AC1900 speeds of up to 1300Mbps on 5GHz and 600Mbps on 2.4GHz, four Gigabit LAN ports, one Gigabit WAN, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port.
The EA9500, which also features Wave 2 with MU-MIMO, should appeal to the enthusiast crowd, offering tri-band speeds of 2166Mbps on both of its 5GHz bands and 1000Mbps on 2.4GHz. The EA9500 will feature a 1.4 GHz Dual Core Processor, eight Gigabit LAN ports, one Gigabit WAN port, eight external antennas, WPA/WPA2 encryption and an SPI firewall.
The Linksys RE7000 is an outlet range extender that may extend the range of an existing MU-MIMO setup or compliment a home network that doesn't currently have MU-MIMO. On top of its Spot Finding technology, which will help users find the optimal installation location, the RE7000 will feature wireless speeds of AC1733 and N300, seamless roaming, crossband technology, a multi-mode to switch between repeater and access point, an easy connect button and one Gigabit Ethernet port.
Now a MU-MIMO setup is great, but users won't reap the benefits it provides if their wireless devices aren't MU-MIMO compatible. Rather than buy a new laptop or tablet with MU-MIMO technology, why not use a USB adapter? Linksys responded with WUSB6100M, an AC Wave 2 with MU-MIMO enabled USB 2.0 adapter with speeds of AC433 and N150, Beamforming technology and simple PnP pairing. The WUSB6100M will work with any adapter, but ideally should be used with a MU-MIMO setup.
Finally, Linksys announced changes to its Smart Wi-Fi app. Smart-Wi-Fi allows users to monitor their home network from the web or on their phone and tablet, protect child activity and monitor the status of connected devices. Certain connected devices may also be given priority through the app. Smart-Wi-Fi is due for an update this Spring, which will include changes to the user interface, making setting up a home network easier.
Linksys's new Max-Stream MU-MIMO products will hit the market soon. The EA7500 AC1900 Dual-Band MU-MIMO Gigabit Router will launch this February for $199.99. The EA9500 AC5400 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router with MU-MIMO will launch in April for $399.99. Both the RE7000 AC1900+ MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Range Extender and the WUSB6100M AC600 USB MU-MIMO Adapter are set to launch this Spring for $149.99 and $59.99 respectively.