Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Western Digital Goes the Router Route

You might love it, you might hate it. You might have to unplug it, count to 90 and plug it back in again. But if you want Wi-Fi, you might need it.

My Net N900 Central

“It” is the wireless router for your network at home, and now hard-disk-drive maker Western Digital is going down the router route to offer consumers super-fast networking devices, including one with built-in storage options.

The new routers are aimed at the “connected” consumer, one who watches an increasing amount of Internet video.

The My Net N600, My Net N750 and My Net N900 are dual-band routers with corresponding speeds (for example, the N900 offers speeds up to 900 megabits per second, or 450 on each band). They also include Ethernet ports, for users who still want to plug in; and USB ports to connect other devices like set-top boxes, printers and external drives.

The My Net N900 Central combines a high-speed router with internal hard-drive storage, as well as access to a “personal cloud” from outside devices that allows users to look for their media — like videos, photos and documents — while away from home. The drive is accessible through a Web link or a mobile app for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

Western Digital is also touting something called FasTrack technology, meant to detect heavier volumes of streaming on your at-home network and adjust speeds to enable smooth, uninterrupted connectivity across your devices.

My Net N600

With hard-disk-drive prices inflating due to flooding in Thailand last year, which impacted operations for companies like Western Digital; and with consumer-facing cloud-storage options abounding, it’s not entirely surprising that Western Digital is looking to diversify its products.

The Irvine, Calif.-based company already sells media players — the WD TV Live and WD TV Live Plus — that can stream content like Netflix, Pandora, YouTube and Hulu to your TV. Competitors Seagate and Netgear also offer similar products.

Western Digital’s My Net N900, My Net N750, My Net N600 and My Net Switch hit the market today, ranging in price from $70, at the low end, to $180.

My Net N900 Central, the combo router-and-storage device, will be available sometime next quarter. A one terabyte My Net N900 Central will cost $300; a 1TB router will be priced at $350.

Single-band routers from companies like Belkin, Cisco, Netgear and D-Link can be found online for a lot less these days, though they won’t come close to offering speeds of 900 Mbps. Netgear’s N900 dual-band wireless router prices comparably to Western Digital’s, at $180; but that doesn’t include built-in or cloud-storage options.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work