Belkin subsidiary Linksys has announced the launch of the WRT1200AC (opens in new tab), a dual-band networking router that promises Wireless AC speeds of up to 867 Mbps. The company indicated that this model is the result of feedback from customers who wanted a router with the features of the popular WRT1900AC (opens in new tab) but with a lower price tag and lower speeds. This router is available to purchase now for $179.99 through online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores.
As previously indicated, the new WRT router is capable of 867 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and 400 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. The router also includes five gigabit Ethernet ports (4 LAN, 1 WAN), a USB 3.0 port, and a USB 2.0/eSATA port for sharing files from a USB stick or external hard drive. All of this is backed by a dual-core processor (1.3 GHz) from Marvell, two adjustable/removable antennas, and high-powered Wi-Fi power amplifiers.
In addition to the speed and decent price point, the big selling point with this router is that it's open-source friendly. The company announced on Thursday that the open-source Wi-Fi driver for this router is now in the hands of the OpenWrt group. The most recent release from OpenWrt, "Chaos Calmer," supports both the new router and its AC1900 brother, the WRT1900AC router. OpenWRT is an open source operating system based on Linux that gives router owners the ability to customize the device more so than the default firmware.
The new router also includes Linksys Smart Wi-Fi, a management tool that is accessible through a desktop browser or an app for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. This dashboard allows customers to create a separate guest network, prioritize devices, turn off Wi-Fi access to any device and more. The most recent additions to Smart Wi-Fi include improved device identification, Wi-Fi Scheduler, Wireless Widget and new features to the network map.
News of the new WRT1200AC arrives after Linksys announced (opens in new tab) that it had sold more than 100 million networking routers for the home and SMBs. The company's very first consumer-grade router was the BEFSR41, which was released back in December 1999.
"For a router to hit this accomplishment in the same company of smartphones, game consoles, MP3 players, tablets and e-readers, shows how crucial sharing an Internet connection has become," said Mike Chen, vice president, product management, Linksys. "When Linksys introduced the first consumer grade router at Comdex in 1999, we never would have imagined it would have such a critical role for connecting the Internet of Things in the home."
There was a time when routers were snubbed by Internet providers. However, we now live in a world full of gadgets that need more than a single connection to the Internet. These same providers, such as Time Warner Cable, are now setting customers up with all-in-one devices that combine the modem and the router.
But not every customer wants their access to be fully regulated by Internet providers. "Enthusiasts" who want to control every aspect of their wireless connections on this side of the modem should find Linksys' new open-source friendly WRT1200AC ideal.