Networking Guide

Ruckus MediaFlex NG Wireless Multimedia Router review

Ruckus MediaFlex NG 802.11b/g Wireless Multimedia Router

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Hardware Features

Hardware Features

The MediaFlex NG is the router component of Ruckus' MediaFlex range of products, an important point to actually take note of because every product in the MediaFlex range looks exactly the same as one another, be it the router or just the adapter. Depending on who you are talking to, the MediaFlex NG can draw different comments about its looks - from one of them new fangled desktop letter holders from IKEA to a personal mini manicure cooler. The router comes in a 'U' shaped all white plastic shell, which is just about as far from the traditional box router as you can get. Whether the design is purely aesthetic or serves a higher purpose is unknown, but it certainly is cool.

The smooth shell is dotted with a row of four status LEDs on the bottom front for Power, WAN connection, Wireless connection and Wireless signal quality. At the back of the router, there is the usual array of a WAN port, four 10/100Mbps LAN ports and the power input. Unlike the usual routers however, there are no status indicators for LAN connectivity at the front of the unit, which can make it difficult to troubleshoot problematic LAN connections. However, for a small home router such as this, we don't see this as becoming a very huge problem.

Now, after you've gotten over the unconventional design of the router, another feature that stands out (or not) is the lack of any external antennas protruding from the device. Instead, once you plug in the power to the router, you get this array of weird spinning lights on the top cover. For those familiar with the NETGEAR WPN 824 router, you'll immediately recognize that these are the visual indicators for the router's internal antenna positioning. Remember that Ruckus is actually the company that pioneered this antenna technology used in the NETGEAR router.

Called BeamFlex technology, the MediaFlex NG's doesn't feature discreet antennas, but a complex antenna array, which has six directional elements. With these, it has the capability to form a total of 63 different patterns and uses multipath interference to its advantage in order to optimize wireless signal strength, signal pathing and bandwidth to all connected devices. This smart antenna array is constantly reconfigured in real-time for the best possible positioning, which we take to be the reasoning behind the spinning LEDs. Every so often, they lock onto a position and stay there, a huge reprieve from the continuous blinking. Although the router uses its own antenna technology, the MediaFlex NG is based on an Atheros SuperG chipset, which means that pairing it with similar devices might very well boost performance further.

As a multimedia router, the MediaFlex NG also features its own proprietary QoS type technology called SmartCast, which manages multicast traffic and optimizes multimedia traffic streams. Ruckus claims that this creates the most stable wireless streaming platform for video and they're heavily promoting this feature for wireless IPTV streaming.