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Wireless Reviews

Video Test

Since Cisco's marketing for the WET6 says that "It's optimized for streaming video to reduce glitches", I thought I'd put that to the test. I linked the WET6 to a WRT400N, using WPA2/AES security, 5 GHz band and 40 MHz channel width. The WRT400N was located in my office (Location A) and linked to the WET6 in my living room (Location C). The WET6 was plugged into the Ethernet port on a Netgear EVA8000 [reviewed] connected to a Panasonic TH-50PX75U Plasma.

I used the same collection of 720p QuickTime HD trailers used in the HD Streaming Smackdown: Draft 11n vs. Powerline. I wasn't able to use 1080p clips because the EVA8000 won't play them without stuttering. (Netgear specs WMV up to 1080p, but doesn't say anything about H.264 or Quicktime HD.) Since I have found that the EVA8000 also stutters on some 720p QuickTime HD clips, I used only material that I verified played without problem over an Ethernet connection. All material was streamed from a NETGEAR NV+ that was connected directly into one of the WRT400N's LAN ports.

I wish that I could say that the WET6 performed flawlessly, but it didn't. The IxChariot throughput testing showed that I had an average of almost 40 Mbps of throughput available under the video test conditions. But it apparently was not enough (or stable) enough for the peak demands of the clips.

I should say, however, that the clips seemed to play for a bit longer through known peak demand spots where they usually start to stutter. But the clips did not make it through all of the rough spots, indicating insufficient bandwidth.

I'll also note that NETGEAR has released new firmware for the EVA8000 that I discovered and downloaded before I began this test. It contains lots of improvments for playing video in low bandwidth environments. It also now pauses the video when bandwidth drops below what's needed and puts up a message while it refills the buffer. While this is annoying, it's better than having a video continue to stutter once it starts because it can't catch up.

Closing Thoughts

The WET610N will probably replace the WGA600N "Gaming" adapter, since the two products are more alike than different and why would they need both? It's a good choice for a dual-band draft 11n adapter and could be a better choice than a USB adapter for connecting a desktop or a few Ethernet-only devices if you throw in a switch.

But if you're looking for the answer to your high-def video streaming needs, keep looking. Despite what Cisco's marketing material says, I didn't find that the WET610N provides any particular advantage for that application.

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