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Netgear launches supercharged Wi-Fi gear for HD & 3D streams

Netgear delivered Christmas early for buyers of HD and 3D TV sets that have an Internet-capability

By PETER WHITE

Published: 18 November, 2010

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Netgear delivered Christmas early for buyers of HD and 3D TV sets that have an Internet-capability. Santa won’t have to install wires to connect them to the home’s router.

Netgear said it has a new type of Wi-Fi router and hubs that are designed for transmitting HD and 3D videos to TV sets. It’s an acknowledgement that TV sets, Blu-ray players and digital media adapters like Apple TV have become important elements in the wireless home network, just as important as PCs. It’s estimated that about half of the TV sets sold in the US have an Internet connection.

Netgear said its new 3DHD Wireless Home Theater Networking Kit can stream 1080p HD and 3D throughout the home, even through multiple walls, by using hubs, multiple antennas and other technology to boost video signals sent over Wi-Fi. The company said the kit was the first to do that wirelessly.

The Wi-Fi router has four transmitters and four receivers, which gives it 4×4 MIMO (multiple input, multiple output antennas). Netgear said the technology provides coverage over a wider area and is more reliable for streaming HD and 3D videos than other Wi-Fi routers. The device sounds similar to Ruckus Wireless gear, except it doesn’t manage packet resends.

Dynamic beam forming steers the Wi-Fi signal to target the hubs and boost coverage. Space-time block coding technology is used to send multiple redundant copies of the same data to and from several antennas across different paths to minimize packet loss and improve video reliability.The kit and two hubs (adapters) will sell for $259. Additional adapters will retail for $129. The products will ship in mid-month.

Patrick Lo, Netgear’s chairman and CEO, told The New York Times, "3D high-definition video is extremely cumbersome to move across a wireless network. We’ve reinvented our wireless technologies to easily stream this content without seeing any jitter or bumpy video."

Many Internet-capable TV sets do not come with Wi-Fi built-in because in many cases Wi-Fi cannot stream flicker-free HD and 3D videos to every TV set in the home. The adapters plug into the Ethernet jack in TV sets, Blu-ray players and digital media adapters.

Netgear also has a Roku license that it uses to make set tops, with Roku’s movie-streaming technology. The Netgear Roku Player is available now for $89.99. Users can access over 100,000 movies and TV shows, live sporting events, music and more from the Internet directly to their TVs. It has 85 channels including Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, Vimeo, Pandora, MP3tunes, SmugMug, Flickr, MLB.TV and UFC. It promised more channels in the future. The Player streams 1080p HD video via Wi-Fi or wireline Ethernet and connects to a TV set via HDMI or composite video and stereo output.

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