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NETGEAR logoNETGEAR today set the ship timeframe for its R6300 draft 802.11ac router, and added two members to its draft 11ac product line.

NETGEAR may have lost the first-to-ship contest for draft 802.11ac gear to Buffalo. But what it lacks in timeliness, it is attempting to make up in variety.

The company today not only announced it would be shipping its previously-announced R6300 WiFi Router - 802.11ac Dual Band Gigabit starting next week, with orders accepted starting tomorrow. But it threw down a second, slightly less expensive draft 802.11ac router and a draft 802.11ac USB adapter.

The R6200 WiFi Router shares the R6300's vertical lean-back form factor and, at first glance, looks like an R6300 clone at a $20 lower MSRP ($179.99). However, the R6200 has two-stream vs. three stream draft 802.11ac and 2.4 GHz 802.11n radios, so earns only a 1200 "speed rating" in NETGEAR's marketing parlance.

NETGEAR R6200 slide

That translates to a maximum 300 Mbps link rate for the 2.4 GHz 802.11bgn radio and a 900 Mbps maximum link rate for the 5 GHz draft 11ac radio. The R6200's other specs are carbon copies of the R6300, which in turn copies the WNDR4500's feature set (NETGEAR Genie, ReadySHARE Print and USB Storage, DLNA Media server, Parental Controls, Guest Network and Broadband Meter). But you get only one USB 2.0 port to share a drive or printer vs. the R6300's two.

For a $20 difference and with "Q3" availability (NETGEAR actually said "July" in a briefing call), you have to wonder why NETGEAR is bothering with the R6200. If someone is going to go out on a limb to participate in what amounts to a public beta of draft-spec gear on his or her nickel, does NETGEAR really think that saving $20 is going to grab that much more market share? Especially considering that the tradeoff is lower throughput, which is the main thrust for draft 11ac marketing in the first place!

Perhaps the real reason for the R6200 is that it is a better match for the A6200 WiFi Adapter—the first draft 11ac USB adapter to be announced. For space and power reasons, the A6200 is only dual-stream, so it only supports 300 Mbps maximum link rates in either band when used with 802.11abgn routers or access points and 900 Mbps in 5 GHz when connected to draft 802.11ac.

NETGEAR R6200 slide

MSRP is a surprisingly low $69.99 and availability the same as the A6200.

If you are wondering how you'll be able to take full advantage of the R6300's 1300 Mbps maximum link rates, you have two options. You can buy Buffalo's WLI-H4-D1300 bridge. Or most buyers will opt for buying a second R6300 and setting it to either client-based bridge mode (no WDS required) or using WDS, which the R6300 also supports, to form a wireless bridge.

The Buffalo option, at $179.99 MSRP, saves $20 over the R6300's $199.99 MSRP. But then your networking aesthetics suffer from the two products' dissimilar packaging styles.

For those wondering when you'll see a review of the R6300 on SmallNetBuilder, right now we can't say when. NETGEAR was noncommittal when asked when we would get a pair to review.

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