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Startup preps 802.11n in the home and Verizon hopes to sell location services with new phone in the post-Thanksgiving new-product roundup

Ruckus Speeds Up

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
11/27/2006
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Manfully fighting off the effects of the Thanksgiving tofurkey, Unstrung assembles all the news fit to eat in today's new-product roundup. Today's highlights include: faster WiFi in the home; better Bluetooth; a phone that finds things for you; and an access point made entirely of leftover stuffing. (Yeah, OK, we made that one up.) Heat, serve, and enjoy! Ruckus's Home Invasion: High-speed WiFi startup Ruckus Wireless Inc. (NYSE: RKUS) plans to debut its first "802.11n" product at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas early next January.

The firm says that the CES demo will showcase advances that make it possible to broadcast "many" HDTV, VOIP, and music streams wirelesssly throughout the home. Ruckus claims that its new "Smart-N" technology overcomes some of the interference and coverage problems that have afflicted the first generation of "pre-n" products.

The system uses Ruckus's BeamFlex smart antenna technology and SmartCast traffic engineering software with an Atheros Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR) chipset to deliver streams of at least 50 to 100 Mbit/s around a 3000-square-foot home. "We only deal in worst-case performance because carriers don't care about best case," explains David Callisch, comms director at the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm.

Like many other vendors in the high-speed WiFi game, Ruckus is running a little fast and loose with its description of its product as an "802.11n", simply because the standard hasn't been ratified yet. Ruckus says that its product is as compliant with the draft standard as is possible. Callisch adds that currently it looks like the final 802.11n specification will be ready by July 2007 and Ruckus will have fully compliant product out by the end of the fourth quarter.

Bluetooth Breakthrough? British Bluetooth chip specialist CSR plc (London: CSR) says that it has developed a way to make Bluetooth-enabled peripherals more cost-effective and appealing for the mass market.

CSR has developed software called the BlueCore Input Connection Enhancement (BlueICE) that will allow Bluetooth keyboards and mice using its silicon to connect with the host PC simply by adding batteries.

Previously users who wanted to use Bluetooth keyboards or mice have had to keep a spare wired keyboard on hand just in case, CSR says. "Consumers would need to keep a wired keyboard in reserve if they needed to boot from a CD or change the BIOS as the wireless devices needed to wait for the OS to load the Bluetooth software stack before they could connect," notes David McCall, VP of the PC strategic business unit at CSR.

CSR hopes that this tweak to its product line will enable its silicon be used in wireless peripherals that can now be bundled as standard with PC shipments rather than being viewed as a wireless afterthought.

Green With EnV: Verizon Wireless today introduced the latest in a long line of whizz-bang multimedia phones -- LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) 's EnV. The $150 fliptop phone has all the cool features you might expect -- wireless email, a QWERTY keyboard, MP3 and video capability, and a slimline price tag.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new device, however, is the way Verizon is using it to push its VZ Navigator location mapping capabilities. The phone even has a separate color LCD inside its fliptop that Verizon claims will make it easier for users to understand the maps that the Navigator software produces. (See Location Services Lost on Users.)

The service won't come for free. Verizon says that users will be able to access the systems's mapping, audible turn-by-turn navigation and the ability to find over 14 million points of interest -- such as ATMs, restaurants, and gas stations -- for $2.99 a day or $9.99 monthly.

The EnV goes on sale today.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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