Networking and storage at CES 2011: Faster, more connected
Now that CES 2011 is slipping into the past, here are the things in the show's networking and storage categories that are sticking with CNET's Dong Ngo.
Dong NgoSF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Knowing I was going to Las Vegas for CES, my friends said, "Have fun!" The truth is, friends, fun, whether or not the kind that stays in Las Vegas, is not the first thing one can expect from covering CES. It's always a lot of work.
I did have fun seeing my colleagues all in one place, however, especially those from the East Coast, whom I don't get to see very often. Now that we've all returned home or are on the way back, here are the things in the networking and storage categories that are sticking with me from the show.
In the networking department, faster is the main theme, and this is true for both wireless and powerline networking. Powerline networking is now pumped up to support 500Mbps by adhering to the latest IEEE 1901 standard (up from the 200Mbps of the HomePlug AV standard). There were several 500Mbps powerline products announced at CES this year, such as the Trendnet TPL 401E and Netgear's XAVB5004.
Wireless networking this year is seeing many vendors moving to the three-stream standard that offers a throughput speed of up to 450Mbps (as opposed to the 300Mbps of the popularly used dual-stream standard). Examples of these are Netgear with the WNDR4000, Trendnet with the TEW-692GR, and D-Link with its HD Media routers.
On the client side, the three-stream wireless standard is supported by Intel's Centrino N-5300 and Centrino N-6300 Wi-Fi adapters. These two Wi-Fi chipsets, also known as Intel's Ultimate N Wi-Fi Link family, can handle all standards of Wi-Fi, including the three-stream standard. Trendnet also released the first 450Mbps gaming adapter. In the future, networking vendors will also release USB adapters that support this higher speed.
D-Link's HD Media routers, by the way, are the first that sport an SD card reader, and some of them are also the first with built-in USB 3.0 to support faster network storage performance.
Speaking of USB 3.0, most storage vendors have now moved to this standard for their external drives. This is a natural move, as USB 3.0 offers a speed that's easily 10 times that of USB 2.0 and is backward-compatible with all previous versions of USB standards. External drives are now also getting tinier, and many of them now are also based on solid-state drives. Examples of these are the GoFlex Slim from Seagate, Verbatim's Titan XS, and the i-Disk Rex 100 from Pretec.
There's one minor breakthrough this year in terms of storage, as Marvell unveiled the first flexible hybrid solution, a 6Gbps SATA controller powered by its HyperDuo technology. The controller allows for combining a regular hard drive (HDD) and a solid-state drive (SSD) into a single volume that offers the performance of an SSD while taking advantage of the hard drive's storage space. You can see a demo of this technology here.
There was no big news in regard to network attached storage (NAS) servers this year, but Iomega did introduce its version of the network media player that can also work as an NAS server, the Iomega TV with Boxee + Storage, which is similar to the WD TV Live Hub. Iomega also announced that all these NAS servers now support its Personal Cloud feature. Likewise, Buffalo unveiled its new CloudStor NAS servers that use Pogoplug cloud service.