Netgear's new Wi-Fi kit looks promising for small businesses. Is it still using the same partner as before though?

We expect Netgear has done a good job bringing fast 802.11n Wi-Fi to small-to-medium businesses, with the Prosafe gear launched yesterday. A year ago, it launched into SMB Wi-Fi, with the WFS709TP, a switch which reviewed well - and turned out to be an OEM version of a higher-spec Aruba switch.

It's not obvious if the company's new 802.11n access points are from the same source. For one thing, they look different - although they both have three antennas.

The Netgear AP has a different strategy for dealing with the limits of 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE). It only offers 802.11n on one of the two radio bands, whereas Aruba's AP-124 device now claims to do it on both - though earlier specs for the same Aruba device warned that it needed more electrical power than 802.3af guarantees to deliver, and said it would fall back from full 3x3 802.11n when necessary.

The Netgear data sheet and the Aruba specs are online to compare.

But in the meantime, our first observation is that the only other access point we've seen with that sort of paddle-shaped antenna, is the Linksys WRT3000N. We can't imagine any connection between an 18 month old consumer-grade AP from a division of Cisco (that isn't going to take kindly to Netgear's appearance in that market).

But it does make us wonder: why is the antenna like that?

Update: A correspondent confirms my feeling that the antennas don't indicate what's inside: "the component/piece suppliers make all kinds, and I think Netgear just liked them. You really need to open the box to know what’s inside, because the shell and antennas can really be anyone’s."