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Good Ol' Networking

While multimedia products got most of the networking love at CES, it's still straight networking products that pay the bills for most consumer networking vendors and a few products were announced in that category.

Actiontec showed me its announced-at-show 54 Mbps Wireless Multiport Print Server and 54 Mbps Wireless Game Adapter. The Game Adapter can bridge multiple clients and work with any 802.11b/g AP or wireless router (WDS not required) and supports WEP 64 / 128 encryption, but not WPA. It is available now at $129.99 suggested list.

The print server has two USB 1.1 and one parallel port and can support printing to all ports simultaneously. The server supports Windows-based printing as well as MAC OS X-based printing for PostScript printers, 64- and 128-bit WEP encryption, Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), and both Infrastructure and Ad-Hoc mode connection. It's due to ship the end of this month at $149 suggested list.

My visit to the Linksys demo suite yielded a few products that will be announced in the coming months. Pictured below are a travel router on the left and mini 802.11g router on the right. The travel router is very Airport Express-y with a built-in power supply and pop-out US plug, but sadly, no built-in streaming audio adapter.

Linksys mini routers

Linksys mini routers

The WRT54GC mini-router also has pop-out surprises of its own - an RP-SMA external antenna connector that you can see in the picture, and a swivel-out stand in case you like your routers vertical. Pricing and delivery have not been set for either product and the travel router doesn't even have a product number yet.

Other wireless routers introduced at the show that I've previously covered include the U.S. Robotics "MAXg" extended-range line, Belkin dual-band and ZyXEL G+ (based on Broadcom's Afterburner).

Next item to report is the first routers I've seen with built-in battery backup. Linksys also showed me the first of its new line of cable modems with built-in VoIP ATAs (Analog Telephone Adapters). The will be sold to cable companies only so that guys like Vonage and other PSTN-based VoIP providers don't have all the fun.

Linksys VoIP, Battery backup combo cable modem

Linksys VoIP, Battery backup combo cable modem

The first three models in the line-up - which features the new packaging you see in the photo above (sorry for the fuzzy pix) - include two models with battery backup, one with built-in 802.11g router and the other without, and a wireless version with no battery backup. The internal VoIP ATA supports both SIP and MGCP, which are the two most widely-used VoIP management protocols.

I also happened to spy similar, though not as attractively packaged, products over at Motorola's booth. The SBV5220 Voice Enabled Cable Modem with battery backup is shipping now and its removable NiMH battery provides enough poop for 8 hours of talk or 12 hours of standby time. Its built-in VoIP ATA supports both MGCP and SIP for two lines.

Also available is the SURFboard SBV5120 Voice over IP Cable Modem, essentially the same as the SBV5220 but without battery backup. Finally, coming in March is the VT2550 which is an Ethernet WAN router with two analog phone VoIP ports plus a PSTN port.

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