Once in a while there's a big change, and Western Digital is having one of its own.
The major storage vendor today unveiled not a new hard drive or NAS server, but its very first networking devices in the My Net family. There are five routers and one Gigabit Ethernet switch, enough to challenge other major home-networking vendors, such as Cisco, D-Link, Trendnet, and Netgear.
Unlike other networking vendors whose lineups tend to start with a budget single-band router, WD starts with the My Net N600, a true dual-band router that offers 300Mbps on both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. The next step is the My Net N750, which also offers the 450Mbps speed on the 5GHz band, and finally there's the top-tier My Net N900, which offers the 450Mbps data rate on both bands. The My Net N900 also notably comes with seven Gigabit LAN ports (as opposed to the four ports found in most wireless routers). All of these routers work with any existing Wi-Fi clients.
There's also a My Net N900 Central router that comes with built-in 1TB or 2TB of storage space, resembling the Apple Time Capsule. In fact, according to WD, among other features, the My Net N900 Central will support Apple's Time Machine backup natively. The My Net N900 Central comes with just four LAN ports, however.
|Device name||LAN ports||USB
|My Net Switch||8 Gigabit ports||n/a||n/a||$69.99|
|My Net N600||4 Fast Ethernet LAN||1 port
|My Net N750 HD||4 Gigabit ports||2 ports
|My Net N900 HD||7 Gigabit ports||2 ports||FastTrack Plus, UPnP- and DLNA-certified||$179.99|
|My Net N900 Central HD (1TB)||4 Gigabit ports||1 port
||FastTrack Plus, UPnP- and DLNA-certified, Time Machine support, Personal cloud storage||$299.99|
|My Net N900 Central HD (2TB)||4 Gigabit ports||1 port
||FastTrack Plus, UPnP- and DLNA-certified, Time Machine support, Personal cloud storage||$349.99|
Collectively, WD's My Net routers support FastTrack, UPnP and DLNA media streaming standards, Time Machine, and personal cloud storage.
FastTrack is basically a specifically QoS (quality of service) that automatically detects and prioritizes Internet bandwidth based on types of traffic. By default FastTrack allows entertainment-related services -- such as media streaming, VoIP (voice over IP), and so on -- precedence over other services, such as Web surfing and downloading. FastTrack Plus, available in the N900 and N900 Central routers, offers support for more simultaneous data streams at a time than FastTrack, available in the N600 and N750 routers.
None of the new routers support 802.11ac, however. Jim Welsh, executive vice president for WD's branded products and consumer electronics groups, said the reason behind this was the fact that currently there are no hardware clients that support this new Wi-Fi standard. It's likely that WD will release 802.11ac routers of its own sometime in 2013.
Except for the My Net N900 HD Central that's slated to come out next quarter, these devices are available today. To find out more about how the new WD routers fare, check out the full review of the My Net N900 HD router here.