How Western Digital is bringing sexy back, to your router

Barb Dybwad

One of the biggest problems families run into with home internet usage these days isn't so much absolute speed for individual connections — Wireless-N tends to feel "fast enough" assuming your broadband ISP is funneling reasonable bandwidth in the first place — but rather the network congestion that arises when multiple residents are doing network-intensive tasks at the same time. Sure, when you're watching that Netflix movie all by your lonesome everything is generally fine, but as soon as your siblings or roommates come home and fire up their own streaming services, video chats, online music, and multi-player gaming sessions, everyone's experience gets jittery, juddery, and buffery.

This is only compounded by the proliferation of tablets, smartphones, and multi-machine tendencies in today's modern household. Whereas just a few years ago we were each occupied with a single screen, now more than ever we're actually consuming content on multiple screens at once — making that home entertainment experience potentially more susceptible to things like video downsampling, lag, and outright interruptions in playback.

Western Digital hopes to provide a pragmatic solution to all of that with a new line of routers designed to intelligently prioritize network traffic based on type, with the goal of accelerating bandwidth-intensive entertainment applications like video, gaming, and music. Best known for their external and networked storage products, this product launch sees the company entering a new market — and doing so with flair.

The company's new line of HD dual-band routers — the My Net N600, N750, N900, and N900 Central — use a real-time traffic analysis technology dubbed FasTrack to make sure that another family member's web browsing or file downloading sessions aren't going to interrupt your Hulu Plus TV episode playback. The My Net N600 and N750 routers feature FasTrack, and come auto-configured to prioritize Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, CinemaNow, YouTube, and Spotify traffic; customers can add up to 15 additional services they use most. The N900 and N900 Central (which includes 1 terabyte or 2TB onboard storage options) ship with FasTrack Plus, which takes care of auto-detecting all network traffic for you; there's "no need for manual customization," according to Paul Chen, Senior Product Line Manager.

Simple setup was a key design philosophy that went into the My Net line, and having spent some time with the N900 ourselves we can attest to its success. It took just a couple of minutes to get up and running with the new router using a web-based interface that's lightweight enough to allow setup even from your smartphone or tablet. For those who want more power to customize, you can always dive deeper into the Quality of Service (QoS) and advanced settings and tweak to your heart's content — a nice balance between ease of use and ability to customize.

We'll have a full review of the My Net N900 coming after we've had a chance to spend some more quality time with it, but early results have been highly positive. We were able to load up a number of bandwidth-intensive tasks that essentially crushed our previous router, all while experiencing smooth high-definition video playback on multiple devices. It's too early to pronounce victory until we've had a chance to spend more time doing some direct comparisons, but there certainly aren't any red flags we've seen during our short time previewing the N900's capabilities.

Watch a side-by-side demo of the new Western Digital FasTrack router versus a competitor above, showcasing both a solo streaming experience and a congested network environment. The My Net N600, N750, and N900 routers are available at retail and online today, while the N900 Central will ship next quarter. Check out the full price list for the new routers below, and stay tuned for our full N900 review.

western digital My Net N900 product shot bd 630
western digital My Net N900 product shot bd 630
western digital my net n900 back bd 630
western digital my net n900 back bd 630
  • My Net N600: this 600 Mbps router comes with 5 Fast Ethernet ports and 1 USB port for $79.99
  • My Net N750: this 750 Mbps router comes with 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 2 USB ports for $119.99
  • My Net N900: this 900 Mbps router comes with 7 LAN/1 WLAN Gigabit Ethernet ports and 2 USB ports for $179.99
  • My Net N900 Central (1TB): this router adds 1TB of onboard storage to the N900 for $299.99
  • My Net N900 Central (2TB): this router adds 2TB of onboard storage to the N900 for $349.99

This article originally appeared on Tecca ›

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