Western Digital has been in the tech industry for more than forty years now, with a sizable lineage of hard drives as well as media players like the WD TV series tucked under their belt. Today, WD ventures into wireless home networking field with an array of dual-band 802.11n routers designed to stream and accelerate high-definition videos and gaming content to both wired and wireless peripherals. Unveiled at the Clarity showroom earlier today, the My Net family of routers consists of four models predominantly - N600, N750, N900, and variants of the flagship N900 Central. But first, let's take a quick peek at the FasTrack technology employed within their routers.
One of the routers' main highlights include WD's FasTrack Plus and FasTrack prioritization technologies. In a nutshell, FasTrack Plus enables the access point to detect media content on the network; such as movies, games, and VoIP sessions; and prioritize them over less pertinent web traffic. On top of that, FasTrack Plus is also able to 'accelerate' these data packets to clients like gaming consoles, media players, Smart TVs, and mobile devices in real time. WD calls this "Smart HD Streaming". FasTrack, on the other hand, is more akin to an enhanced version of Quality of Service (QoS) technology often found in most 802.11n routers. It prioritizes streamed content from sites like Netflix and Hulu over web traffic to ensure a stutter-free delivery, but lacks FasTrack Plus' auto-detection feature.
According to WD, the routers are also a breeze to configure, thanks to the user-friendly My Net Dashboard interface (which is likely the outcome from the good work they've put into their media players like the WD TV Live). In addition, all My Net routers support WD's Personal Cloud feature as well, where users are able to access data stored on the router's internal or attached drive via the cloud. This remote access attribute is further extended to mobile devices with apps like WD 2go and WD Photos, available on iTunes and Google Play. That said, let's take a closer look at the My Net entries.
Besides the FasTrack Plus perk, the N900 Central is the only model under the My Net series to offer internal storage facilities. Available in 1TB or 2TB flavors, users can choose to use the internal drives for remote access via the cloud, or simply use them for wireless backup purposes. Speed wise, the N900 Central is capable of theoretical top speeds of 450Mbps on each band (2.4GHz and 5GHz). Other hardware specs include four Gigabit LAN ports, a Gigabit WAN port, plus one USB slot with network storage and print-server support. In addition, the N900 Central is also Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) capable, which makes it convenient to connect compatible wireless devices to the home network. All My Net models are equipped with internal antennas, and augmented with WD's range-amplifying technology to increase the routers' Wi-Fi reach.
The N900 does not house any internal storage drives, but it has a wicked arsenal which the N900 Central lacks. Clad in white and black, the N900 is armed with seven Gigabit LAN ports and two USB ports, which makes it ideal if you prefer an access point with a wider variety of hardware connectivity. Apart from these, the N900 is similar to the N900 Central in terms of features. Expect peak wireless speeds of 450Mbps on each band, as well as UPnP and DLNA support. Real-time prioritization and acceleration for media streaming and gaming content are available with the FasTrack Plus feature too.
We'd classify the N750 as a mid-range model under the My Net series. Instead of FasTrack Plus, the N750 is equipped with the more subdued FasTrack prioritizing feature for online streaming services as well as bandwidth and upstream WAN traffic management. It has a slower theoretical speed of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, although its 5GHz rating is comparable to its N900 siblings at 450Mbps. Specs-wise, we'd say the N750 hits the sweet spot with four Gigabit LAN ports, one Gigabit WAN port, and two USB slots for content and printer sharing over the home network. With a fairly reasonable price of S$159, this is the model to look out for if you do not require the auto-detection aspects of FasTrack Plus.
The entry-level N600 is the most affordable of the lot, so don't expect it to be loaded with all of WD's fancy features. Instead of Gigabit ports, the N600 is fitted with five 10/100 Base-T ports, inclusive of the WAN inlet. In addition, there's only one USB slot to go around, but on the bright side, it still has the FasTrack feature to shout about. Naturally, you can expect the N600 to offer the slowest throughput among the four models, with peak speeds of 300Mbps on both bands.
|Up to 300Mbps + 300Mbps||Up to 300Mbps + 450Mbps||Up to 450Mbps + 450Mbps||Up to 450Mbps + 450Mbps|
|Accelerated HD Streaming||FasTrack||FasTrack||FasTrack Plus||FasTrack Plus|
|Ethernet Ports||4 Fast Ethernet||4 Gigabit Ethernet||7 Gigabit Ethernet||4 Gigabit Ethernet|
|Remote Access Apps||-||-||-||Yes|
|Price||$99||$159||$239||1TB - $329
2TB - $399
One glaring omission from the suite of My Net routers unveiled today is invariably WD's Wireless 802.11ac model. The AC1300 has been launched in the States as we understand it, but according to WD, it will only arrive on our local shores sometime in the second quarter of 2013. In the meantime, all My Net routers will be available at select retailers by mid December if you're planning to snag one during this festive season. Merry Christmas, dear readers.