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The iPod touch has 802.11n, so what?

Josh Carr

Author and blogger Glenn Fleishman over at TidBITS has some great insights into iFixit's discovery that the 3rd generation iPod touch has an 802.11n-capable wireless chip. We mentioned this in our initial analysis of iFixit's teardown, but we still had a few comments asking what it could really do and some who claimed it could do nothing. With the help of Glenn's article, I'll put a few of those thoughts to rest and probably fuel more conspiracies with these highlights:

  • Until recently, 802.11n-capable devices required two antennas. That has changed with the introduction of Single-Stream 802.11n, thus making it possible for manufacturers to put wireless-n into handheld devices.
  • Part of the Single-Stream endeavor was a desire for better battery life. If Apple enables wireless-n in the future, it's very likely that you'll see the battery life improve when doing anything on WiFi because these chips should consume less power than wireless-g.
  • Wireless-n could allow the iPod touch to send 50 percent more data across the network. That would give it a theoretical throughput of 30Mbps or more instead of its current 20Mbps.
  • It's also possible that Single-Stream wireless-n technology will be more efficient on wireless networks. In order for that to happen, Apple will have to update their wireless routers to contain space-time block coding (STBC), but that could be as simple as a firmware update.
If Apple enabled 802.11n in the iPod touch, we could see a lot of new uses come to the device, including video streaming, wireless sync/home sharing, on-device video rental, and many other possibilities. I have always wanted to be able to start a movie in the living room and continue watching it live while doing other tasks around the house. With this new technology, that dream could someday become reality.

[via TidBITS]

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