802.11n wireless has been a godsend to those of us who want to stream video wirelessly over our home networks. It’s great, but technology ever marches onward. The next Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, is on its way to being ratified. Much like previous standards, hardware vendors cannot wait for the final standard to be ratified to start producing routers and network cards, so they start manufacturing them using the draft specification. Today, Buffalo announced the first 802.11ac draft wireless router available to the mass market. As is all too common, they have given this router a ridiculous name: AirStation AC1300 or WZR-D1800H. While that’s fine for internal use, it is pretty silly for that string of characters to be placed prominently for the world to see.
Now, there isn’t really any hardware that can take advantage of 802.11ac’s speeds yet, so they decided to release a wireless bridge as well: WLI-H4-D1300. This allows you to plug in devices over ethernet so you get the benefit of the increased speed, and you only have to run a tiny bit of wires instead of a long string across your entire house.
So, how much is it? Well, you can pick up the wireless router for $179 USD on Newegg. If you want the wireless bridge, that will be another $179 USD. So, is it worth it to drop $358 USD on a solution that doesn’t work with anything else yet, and might not even be compatible with the final spec? Not yet. To be fair, they dragged their feet with 802.11n, so Draft-N proliferated to a point where it was useful. If that happens again, Draft-AC devices might be worth the investment, but that time hasn’t come.