But an even better remedy might involve a mix of network technologies. To this end, Netgear is also introducing a sort of hybrid Wi-Fi/powerline router, the N300 Wireless Router + Powerline AV (WNXR2000). While this router only supports 2.4ghz 802.11n Wi-Fi (and not 5ghz), it comes with a powerline network adapter based on the latest version of the HomePlug AV standard, supporting theoretical speeds of 500mbps (several other vendors are also introducing fast HomePlug AV products).
The adapter plugs into a wall outlet and has two cables: one that connects to one of the router's four 10/100 Ethernet ports and another that provides power to the router. While this is basically the same way you set up a powerline network with a separately purchased adapter, Netgear's product frees up an electrical outlet because the router and the adapter both draw power from the same outlet.
Powerline networks use existing electrical wiring to let you connect any device with an Ethernet port to your network without having to install new wires. With this router, you can add a network device by purchasing a HomePlug AV adapter, plugging it into any free wall outlet, and connecting its cable to the Ethernet port. The beauty of having a router with both powerline and Wi-Fi support is that you can use Wi-Fi where it makes sense--say, with a notebook that you want to move around--and powerline for devices that can use its superior reliability for streaming media.
In fact, Netgear is also introducing a powerline kit for people who already have a Wi-Fi router but want to hook up several home entertainment components using powerline technology. The XAVB5004 consists of a single HomePlug AV adapter (XAV5001) that you connect to your router as described above, and a HomePlug AV switch (XAV5004) with 4 gigabit Ethernet ports for your network-ready TV, Blu-ray player, game console, media streamer -- you name it. Netgear says the technology can power a network capable of covering a 5,000-square-foot home.
You can, of course, add additional devices by buying more homeplug adapters or switches. And if you don't need top speed, you can opt for Netgear adapters that support the original HomePlug AV standard, with speeds of up to 200 mbps. The new Netgear Powerline AV 200 Nano kit (XAVB2101) consists of two Powerline AV 200 Nano adapters (XAV2101) that are more petite than their predecessors.