On Wednesday, Belkin-owned Linksys introduced a new Wireless AC router for homes and offices relying on multiple “roaming” mobile devices, the EA8300. It’s a tri-band solution in that it’s packed with one 2.4GHz access point and two 5GHz access points. It’s also backed by beamforming and MU-MIMO technology promising superior connectivity and speed performance.
For starters, the new EA8300 router includes the company’s band steering technology. This essentially pairs the two 5GHz bands together into one access point. That doesn’t mean users will see speeds of up to 1,733Mbps, but instead this feature is designed for mobile devices roaming throughout the home or office. As the device moves across physical space, the router will determine which of the two 5GHz bands has the best connection, and will bounce the device between the two accordingly. This is called load balancing.
Out of the box, band steering is toggled on by default. But users with static wireless devices, such as gaming consoles, Smart TVs, and so on may not need this “roaming” feature. Instead, by disabling band steering, users have complete control over both 5GHz bands. Thus, one 5GHz could be dedicated to console and PC gaming while the second 5GHz band could be set aside for the UHD/Netflix/Hulu streaming hogs in the house.
As previously stated, the router is backed by MU-MIMO technology, which is short for multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output. Imagine standing in Walmart and there’s only one checkout isle open and a long line of impatient shoppers. In a typical router scenario, it uses all available antennas to deal with one client device request at a time. With MU-MIMO, the router can assign more cashiers to handle multiple line of shoppers simultaneously.
According to the specs, the router consists of two single-band antennas and two dual-band antennas. Other hardware specs include a quad-core processor clocked at 716MHz, 256MB of system memory, 256MB of internal storage (firmware only), five gigabit Ethernet ports (1x WAN, 4x LAN), and a USB 3.0 port for sharing files across the local network via a connected external storage device.
Other notable features of the new EA8300 router include Amazon Alexa support, automatic firmware updates (which will likely make hardcore network tweakers cringe), complete customization via a mobile app or web-based interface, and more. It even has an “airtime fairness” feature so that faster devices transmit at faster speeds.
Linksys says the EA8300 is an ideal companion for the RE7000 range extender. It’s linked into the company’s band steering technology, enabling wireless devices roaming outside the router’s range to stay connected to the network using the same access point. This prevents users from having to manually choose a new connection when approaching the wireless extender’s coverage bubble.
The Linksys AC2200 Tri-Band MU-MIMO Router (EA8300) is available now on the Linksys website, Amazon, and Best Buy’s online shop for $200. It will hit Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Meijer, Micro Center, Office Depot, and Walmart in May.
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