More than a year after the first products based on an initial draft of the superfast 802.11n Wi-Fi standard arrived, a second draft--reinforced by Wi-Fi Alliance certification--appears to have solved the interoperability and stability problems we saw in the initial crop. But our informal tests of the first certified products also suggest that prices and performance vary widely as a result of issues that are unrelated to the standard.
We tested Belkin's $90 N (F5D8233-4), Buffalo's $99 AirStation Nfiniti (WZR2-G300N), D-Link's $180 Xtreme N Gigabit (DIR-655), and Netgear's $130 RangeMax Next (WNR834Bv2) first with their own matching PC Cards and then again with PC Cards made by each of the other three vendors. Connection utilities showed that in our tests at a midrange distance of 20 feet, all of them connected at theoretical single-channel draft-n speeds of up to 130 megabits per second (mbps). The Buffalo and the D-Link proved the fastest (see our chart on the next page), and the Buffalo's sub-$100 price makes it a good deal.