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Most Wi-Fi routers look roughly the same as all others: There’s some different plastic molding, an occasional set of panel icons or LCD micro-displays with information, some styling. Belkin has introduced some different, and for a purpose: The N1 Vision. A router stands up with antennas popping out the top, and it has a large LCD display with information that you’d otherwise have to connect to the router to retrieve—if the router offered that information at all. The display has a four-direction toggle switch and an OK button to page through information that includes downstream and upstream data rates, connected users, and the date and time. At $200, it’s an expensive 2.4 GHz Draft N router, except that it includes a four-port gigabit Ethernet switch. It’s due out later this month.
Tim Higgins uncovers an ugly fact about Wi-Fi certification of Draft N devices: The Wi-Fi Alliance is only testing devices for compliance with Draft 2.0 of 802.11n in 20 MHz channel mode in the 2.4 GHz band. There are three mechanisms designed for 2.4 GHz to made Draft N devices play nice with neighbors when in that wider mode. The Alliance told Higgins that there’s still too much debate over how this will be handled, and thus they aren’t testing for it. Devices should come configured to use only a single 20 MHz channel in 2.4 GHz, as the D-Link device that Higgins tested does; Apple’s 802.11n base station is locked to 20 MHz only in 2.4 GHz.