From the horse’s mouth
Last year, I reviewed the Western Digital LiveWire HomePlug AV network kit which comprised of two 4-port Fast-Ethernet switches that were able to link to each other via a HomePlug AV powerline segment. Initially I though that WD had run this product simply as a “flash-in-the-pan” product while focusing on their storage and media-streaming products. But it became a taste of things to come for WD when they released more network-infrastructure hardware over the last week.
They, like Belkin, AVM, Linksys and a few others, have taken the step of focusing their efforts on the consumer, SOHO and small-bsuiness space rather than running products for larger managed networks before tackling this space. But WD had crept in to this space with network-attached storages for home and small-business, then offering the WDTV Live lineup of network media players before tackling the network-infrastructure market.
But what has happened further is that the devices are set up for the expectations of next-generation broadband Internet. For example, the My Net routers are dual-band dual-radio Wi-Fi access points that work as dual streams on each of the bands. As well, all of the routers except the economy N600 model use Gigabit Ethernet for the LAN and WAN connections and handle IPv6 networks. The top-shelf N900 even has 7 Gigabit Ethernet ports, which makes it able to work as a hub for a home that is wired for Ethernet.
These routers can provide media content to the DLNA Home Media Network when they are connected to a USB external hard disk full of media.
As to integrate their hard-disk prowess, WD have released the N900 Central which is effectively the N900 and a My Book Live network-attached-storage in one chassis. This comes in either a 1Tb or a 2Tb capacity and can act in the same capacity as a network-attached storage, including sharing media to the DLNA Home Media Network.
But WD have not forgotten the idea of an Ethernet switch. They have also released the My Net Switch which is an 8-port Gigabit Ethernet desktop switch with port-based quality-of-service management. The limitations with this setup include requiring that the QoS benefits only affect traffic passing through that switch and that you may have to revise the connections for different applications if you are using it as a “central” switch for your wired-for-Ethernet house.
Who knows how these home-network products will fare in the onslaught of the likes of Netgear and D-Link and whether WD could innovate this class of product further and get a foothold in the connected home and small business.