Technology

 

ParkerVision SignalMAX vs. Belkin Pre-N

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Related Terms:

ParkerVision SignalMAX vs. Belkin Pre-N

 

The ParkerVision SignalMAX products offer meaningfully better range in very specific circumstances — open field testing — at the expense of an extremely low data rate at long distances. This may make them a reasonable choice for certain niche applications where modem-style data rates are acceptable and long, open field distances must be traversed. However, in more real-world tests, the ParkerVision did not show a significant improvement in range over the Pre-N products while the Pre-N offered much higher data rates. The Pre-N products (especially once standardization is finished) are likely to dominate the market that ParkerVision products are targeting.

 

Real-World testing
Both tests were conducted by comparing a Pre-N PC Card talking to a Pre-N router and a ParkerVision PC Card talking to a ParkerVision router. For this test, the base station was placed inside an office while the laptop was moved progressively farther outside the building. The ParkerVision card was able to get a signal at 17% better range than the Pre-N card (350 versus 300 feet). However, at 200 feet and less (which is the typical range for nearly all Wi-Fi communications), the Pre-N card was able to achieve at least double the bandwidth.

 

Open-field testing
In this test, the the PC Card was tested every 0.1 miles starting at 0.4 miles (which is 2112 feet). The ParkerVision card did better at every distance, because the Pre-N MIMO technology used in the Belkin Pre-N router and card (using chips from Airgo) only increase range and bandwidth in cluttered environments. They do not affect range in completely open environments, where there is no scattering for the multiple antennas to work with. Open fields with no RF interferers is the environment where the approach used by the SignalMAX cards has the greatest advantage. Comparing Pre-N to SignalMAX in open field testing is comparing the worst case for Pre-N to the best case for SignalMAX.

The ParkerVision products were able to successfully close a link at 1.2 miles, an excellent accomplishment, though the bandwidth was only 72 kbps. This bandwidth would be quite frustrating compared to the 1.5 Mbps of a typical DSL connection, but could be suitable for certain niche applications, like surveying. However, for those applications, 2.5G and 3G cellular technologies like GPRS and EVDO that provide comparable and higher bandwidths with ubiquitous coverage would likely be a better choice.

 

Other reviews
These results appear consistent with other reviews made of the two products:

 

http://laptopmag.com/Review/Belkin-Wireless-Pre-N-Router.htm
“The Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router could possibly be the best router ever made because of its speedy throughput and superwide coverage. Even though there’s no guarantee it will be compatible with the 802.11n standard whenever it is finalized, the Belkin Pre-N is the best option available for those planning to upgrade an aging 802.11b or 802.11g network, or for anyone who wants enough range to cover an entire mansion….

 

Impressively, the router also casts a wide wireless net. From 1,000 feet, the signal was strong and reliably fast, running at about 25 Mbps. At 1,500 feet, the Pre-N was still running at a respectable 10 Mbps. The closest competitor in terms of coverage is the ParkerVision WR1500, but that’s an 802.11b product that provides about only 5 Mbps of throughput, albeit for a city block or more.”

 

http://www.wi-fiplanet.com/reviews/article.php/3445641
“Unlike many other WLAN vendors, ParkerVision doesn’t make any throughput claims at all for its SignalMAX line of products. Instead, it aims focus on the issue of wireless coverage, by utilizing a technology the company calls Direct to Data (D2D)….

 

The company boasts that its SignalMAX products—the WR1500 router with access point and WLAN1500 Cardbus adapter (a USB adapter is also available)—can achieve signal distance of one mile in an open field. (That’s certainly impressive and may even be true, but how many of us live or work in an open field?)….

 

If high throughput is as important to you as range though, a powerful 802.11g access point and/or a high gain antenna may be a better choice, at least until ParkerVision releases its 802.11g version, especially since at $100 for the access point and $80 for the card (street prices), the SignalMAX products are more expensive than a typical pair of standard 802.11g devices. But if wireless range is your paramount concern, the ParkerVision SignalMAX products are worth a look.”

 

http://www.laptopmag.com/Review/Long-Range-Router.htm
“This expensive 802.11b device doubles, and in some cases triples, the typical range that most wireless access points muster. In terms of security and speed, there are better options for half the cost, but the WR1500 does its job and does it well.”

 

http://www.belkin.com/wireless/reviews.html
“I can strongly recommend the Belkin Pre-N wireless router and laptop card, especially for anyone plagued by weak reception or dead spots in a home or office.”

 

Exact products compared
Pre-N to Pre-N:
Belkin Wireless Pre-N Notebook Network Card, PN: F5D8010
Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router, PN: F5D8230-4, Version 1002

 

ParkerVision to ParkerVision:
ParkerVision SignalMAX High Performance Wireless WLAN1500 PC Card, model: WLAN1500
ParkerVision (access point), Model: WR1500

 

Conclusion
The ParkerVision products work better than the alternatives for low bandwidth connections over long distances across open fields. This is a niche application and is often better addressed with cellular data solutions. In more real world conditions, Pre-N systems offer much more bandwidth with comparable range to the ParkerVision products. Moreover, existing (and very inexpensive) 802.11g products continue to satisfy the vast majority of consumer and business applications.