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Those talented designers at ASUS have done it again, this time coming up with one of the most interesting “sleeper” products I’ve seen in a while. This is the EA-N66, but don’t let the rather bureaucratic-sounding name fool you, it’s a surprisingly useful and capable device.

Of course, the first thing you notice is this triangular, Area 51-ish look.

Straight outta Roswell

Once you get used to the really cool look of this device, you begin to wonder what it actually does. Well, I’m a veteran of modems and routers, but this guy is an adapter. What does that mean? I had to contemplate the same question myself, but then realized that the EA-N66 is meant to work with your existing network, whether wired or wireless, rather than stand on its own.  It effectively extends the range of networks, and helps add more devices to them. It does this via the magic of patented ASUS orthogonal antennas, which have nothing to do with your dentist, in case you were wondering. No, they are simply the three antennas that are embedded into the pillars of this honestly gorgeous design. If only all networking products were this handsome!

Some key specs include a dedicated CPU to amplify signals and coordinate the three antennas, dual band 2.4GHz/5GHz operation (band alteration helps avoid online congestion and other problems), and up to 450Mbps per band.

So what do you do with the EA-N66 in practical terms? Conveniently, this wonderful device comes in a highly informative and logical box that highlights the main scenarios of use. I mean, I’d buy the EA-N66 just to admire the box wording, but that’s just me.


Box of the Year 2012 from me so far


Well, that was just a quick look at the overall shape and feel of the packaging, now on to the scenarios.


So many devices, so little time


As shown above, the EA-N66 gets going with two scenarios. The first is wireless network extension, perfect for larger residences or multi-level homes. So let’s say you already have a wireless modem router, and several devices connected to it within a 20m range, for example. Due to various circumstances, you want to place devices further away, but the signal isn’t strong enough to be reliable. Enter the EA-N66! Put it somewhere close to your network’s event horizon, and you instantly get extended coverage over at least the same range as your average powerful modem router. Don’t forget, the EA-N66 has three strong antennas, so it’s no slouch when it comes to broadcasting. This is what ASUS calls extender mode.

Access point mode comes in useful when you only have a wired modem or router, and would like to add wireless to your environment. Simply plug the EA-N66 to your device via Ethernet cable (provided), and it will immediately start putting your wired internet out as Wi-Fi. It will also quickly detect any other devices in the vicinity that support wireless.

Adaptation is a thing of beauty


In pure Ethernet adapter mode, the EA-N66 helps deliver your existing wireless to non-wireless client devices. So basically, you have your internet service, and you have a wireless modem router. But you also have a maybe older device that didn’t come with built in Wi-Fi, yet you want it on your network. No problem, plug it into the EA-N66 via Ethernet, and the pyramid that can will do the rest, hooking up that device to your network in seconds.

It’s all done via a simple interface that shows up on your browser once your PC and the EA-N66 start talking, so there’s no install disc to keep, and setup literally takes seconds. You can select your desired mode out of the three described above.

More ports would have been handy, but this is still a product I like very much


In this sense, it’s too bad the EA-N66 only has one Ethernet port, which means that the adapter mode can only accept one device at a time. It’s not a major issue, but still. Perhaps the next version will have four ports, and will come shaped like the mothership from Independence Day.

It may well be that the star of the show here is the unique design. Seen from above, this is a really interesting piece of imaginative technology.


We come for your bandwidth...and protein


The EA-N66 looks good to me from every angle, and though there’s some gloss on it, it’s not a fingerprint magnet at all.


Can't get enough!


Owing to its sophisticated but simple approach, the EA-N66 does away with an install disc as mentioned above, and only ships with the essentials – a power adapter and an Ethernet cable.



You may not get a sense for the size of the EA-N66 from these pics, so I’ve arranged a small demonstration. This is a compact device, and weighs next to nothing in the hand.


Thanks to the batteries and of course Babar the Elephant for the assist


The EA-N66 has proven a very pleasant surprise. While the designation “Ethernet adapter” may not be the most intuitive or well-known, this is a device most people would find very useful in real-world practical situations. It should be on retail near you in the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for it, which should be easy given its one of a kind design.




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