The industry rightly has qualms about pre-802.11n labeled devices, but speed sells: If we've learned anything from the 108 Mbps and 125 Mbps branding on a variety of Wi-Fi gateways, it's that speed apparently does sell even if standards built the foundation on which Wi-Fi thrives. Belkin's pre-802.11n (high-throughput standard) router and PC card lives up to its promises of increased speed, according to PC World test. Now I have a test unit--still in the box at the moment--that says on the packaging that it beats 802.11g sixfold. That seemed unlikely. But PC World did find the Pre-N units doubled or tripled comparable 802.11g performance while serving as a better tool for 802.11g clients that were unable to reach an 802.11g gateway at the same distance that Pre-N worked.
The fundamental result of this early review is that the MIMO approach of multiple input and output antennas obviously has promise. And the good news is that you can add just a Pre-N router and still have backwards compatibility and forward gains in distance. That doesn't bode well for a standardized future given, as the article states, it might be 2007 before there's an 802.11n certification in Wi-Fi. In the meantime, the Wi-Fi Alliance said it will pull Wi-Fi certification from Pre-N devices that break Wi-Fi compatibility. Perhaps that threat will keep compatibility at the forefront.