Linksys previews 802.11g, Bluetooth gear

Linksys Group Inc. is readying the launch of an 802.11g wireless print server, an 802.11g USB (Universal Serial Bus) adapter and its first Bluetooth product.

The products expand Linksys' 802.11g line and will be officially announced next week when they will be generally available in North America. However, Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems Inc., offered a preview during an event for media at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas on Monday.

The Wireless-G PrintServer for USB 2.0, model WPS54GU2, allows users to share up to two printers on a wired or 802.11g wireless network. It offers both parallel and USB 2.0 connections for printers and can be configured through a browser, according to a Linksys product guide. Both Amazon.com Inc. and Buy.com Inc. already list the print server for just under US$150.

The Wireless-G USB Network Adapter, model WUSB54G, is targeted at users who want to add wireless networking capability to a desktop PC without having to install a card. It is listed by Amazon at $69.99 and by Buy.com at $78.99; both retailers offer $10 mail-in rebates.

Devices based on the 802.11g standard can exchange wireless data at speeds up to 54M bps (bits per second) compared to 11M bps for 802.11b devices. The 802.11g standard works in the same 2.4GHz frequency range as 802.11b and is backwards compatible.

The USBBT100 is Linksys' first Bluetooth product, said spokeswoman Karen Sohl. Users can add Bluetooth wireless connectivity to their computer by plugging the device in to a USB port. Bluetooth is used to connect to other devices to synchronize data, such as cell phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants.)

Linksys has priced the Bluetooth adapter at $49.99, Sohl said. Buy.com offers it at $39.99.

Many network gear vendors have launched 802.11g products and virtually all of them already offer basic products such as access points and PC card notebook network adapters. Linksys rival Netgear Inc. at Comdex showcased its recently announced 802.11g ProSafe Wireless Access Point, for example.

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