If you recall, Belkin expanded their networking portfolio back in October last year. Offerings such as the N750 and N600 dual-band routers are now incorporated with Belkin's MultiBeam technology to help extend data speeds and coverage. Today's event, however, focused more on their home entertainment solutions combined with a smorgasbord of Apple accessories of which Belkin is popular for. There is one router in the mix though, the flagship Advance N900, which features 450Mbps speeds on both bands. Another interesting item which caught our eye is the Belkin ScreenCast AV4, which is more like a wireless hub for your audio-visual devices. We'll give you more on that in our coverage below. In addition, the Californian-based company also unveiled a new corporate logo and brand identity. Without further delay, here are some of the highlights from the event held at Hummerstons, Robertson Walk.
Mr Kevin Gilmore, Belkin's Senior Director for Product Management & Marketing (Asia Pacific), kicked off the media event with an overview of the company's direction. In summary, he spoke of Belkin's primary business approach which is to create 'people-inspired products' as well as products to enhance the user experience, such as the slew of Apple accessories which makes up part of Belkin's portfolio. Incidentally, their corporate mission is also the very cornerstone which inspired the new logo design (the humanoid made up of nine dots). Further on, Gilmore dedicated a sizeable portion of his talk to the WeMo home automation system too. Essentially, WeMo is a control switch which enables users to power their home devices on or off remotely via a WeMo app on the smartphone (just imagine a Wi-Fi enabled power plug of sorts). Besides clinching the Best of CES 2012 award, we at HardwareZone do believe this product has the potential to thrive in the mainstream market, credit to its unfussy usability and practical features.
The Advance N900 will reign as king over Belkin's latest crop of routers. We first reported its existence during our booth crawl in CES 2012. And it was also built to withstand intensive networking tasks such as wireless gaming or 3D video streaming for instance. This makes it ideal (on paper at least) as the central networking gateway to fulfill your home networking and streaming needs. Fundamentally, the N900 is a simultaneous dual-band router with all the jingles you might want in a router these days - 450Mbps throughput speeds on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, a 600MHz processor, IntelliStream (Belkin's QoS system), and of course, Belkin's MultiBeam technology designed to increase the gain and performance of MIMO configurations. Effectively, the N900 will knock Belkin's current N750 off the throne, given the former's superior 450Mbps speeds on both bands and larger number of antennas. The Advance N900 hides a total of six internal antennas, versus the N750's five. Other than that, the two models are pretty much like peas in a pod. They share similar features such as Gigabit ports and print server perks.
Wireless connectivity isn't exactly new to the AV scene. Audio and video enthusiasts might recall the Wireless Media Kit released by LG not too long ago. In a similar fashion, Belkin has entered the scene with a solution of its own, the ScreenCast AV4. Basically, the ScreenCast AV4 consists of two operational units - a transmitter for AV peripherals, and a receiver which connects to your HDTV via HDMI. The transmitter can connect up to four home theatre units or gaming consoles (over HDMI), such as a Blu-ray player or PlayStation 3 for example. Using Wi-Fi transmissions, the ScreenCast AV4 is also capable of streaming Full-HD clips, 3D video, as well as 5.1-channel audio streams. Interestingly, the receiver is also able to decode signals from the various remote control units. However, a 4-in-1 splitter cable is required to provide IR transmissions to the different AV devices. We also spoke to Mr Alvin Lian, Belkin's Country Sales Manager, who assured us that the AV4 won't cost more than S$500. The ScreenCast AV4 will be available in May this year. For more on Belkin's new range of products, do dive down to the next page.