Buffalo ships first 802.11ac wireless router and media bridge

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Netgear may have been first to announce a 802.11ac wireless router, but Buffalo has beaten them to the punch by actually delivering one to market. The AirStation WZR-D1800H wireless router and WLI-H4-D1300 wireless media bridge are on sale now at Fry's, Frys.com and Newegg.com, each priced at $180.

Both solutions operate on the 5Ghz band for reduced interference and increased speeds, with the 802.11ac standard offering transfers up to 1300Mbps. As you’d expect, they also maintain backwards compatibility with existing Wi-Fi devices on the 2.4GHz band, but only at 802.11n speeds of up to 450Mbps. Simultaneous dual band operation is also possible on the wireless router for a theoretical maximum throughput of 1750Mbps across both bands over 802.11ac or up to 900Mbps in 802.11n mode.

The WZR-D1800H wireless router has 5 gigabit Ethernet ports (1 WAN for Internet access and 4 LAN for the internal network) as well as a single USB 2.0 port with a physical eject button.

Of course, there are currently no 802.11ac compatible devices out there and that’s where the WLI-H4-D1300 wireless media bridge comes in. The device allows customers to connect up to four Ethernet-ready devices, such as media player and gaming consoles, to the new 802.11ac-based Wi-Fi network.

Buffalo says 802.11ac networks — or 5G Wi-Fi as the company is branding them — will vastly improve the HD video streaming experience with its higher speeds, enhanced range and increased reliability.

As we’ve mentioned before, the Wi-Fi Alliance is not expected to formally ratify the 802.11ac specification until sometime around Q1 2013, but much like it happened with the transition to 802.11n, users will be able to buy "pre-standard" hardware without worrying about compatibility issues when the standard is finalized.

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