Ruckus Wireless MF2900 / MF2501 review

£80
Price when reviewed

Ruckus Wireless made the news recently with bold claims of being able to stream HD video wirelessly. While some MIMO-based pre-N kit will cope with this on a good day, you can’t rely on it, so Ruckus came up with a number of features to optimise throughput.

The BeamFlex antennae system uses six aerials (most MIMO products use three), which is part of the reason for the clamshell design. By constantly adjusting its aerial usage, it minimises the effects of interference while maximising the benefits of reflected signals. In fact, this is precisely the technology Netgear licenses for its RangeMax products.

But Ruckus keeps the SmartCast system to itself. This is a proprietary Quality of Service (QoS) feature, which singles out and prioritises time-sensitive packets, before focusing them on the destination client adapter using its MIMO antennae. Together with BeamFlex, SmartCast allows Ruckus to claim reliable performance of 15-20Mb/sec across a regular-sized home.

The good news is that it works well. The MF2501 media adapter attaches to the client via Ethernet and requires its own power brick. Using a 144MB file copy, the Ruckus achieved a fairly standard 19.2Mb/sec in close proximity, but this increased marginally to 19.6Mb/sec from another room. Most impressive of all, when we moved to a more distant location in the house it still achieved 17.2Mb/sec. We also attempted to watch 8Mb/sec WMVHD video wirelessly from this location – it was the same as watching it off the local hard disk. From the same location, Netgear’s RangeMax NEXT could only manage 6.2Mb/sec, and Buffalo’s Nfiniti couldn’t even get a signal.

The bad news is that this access point and media adapter are all that’s currently available, although general-use products are imminent. Ruckus is already talking of applying the technology to 802.11n when it arrives too, so although this may not be the right product for everyone, it’s certainly one to watch.

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