Qualcomm StreamBoost Hands-On: Your Network on Steroids

Streaming movies, playing online games and downloading large files can all slow your network, and the more devices you bring into your home, the more your network speeds will suffer. But Qualcomm may have the answer for your slow network blues with its new StreamBoost router technology.

Developed for routers featuring Qualcomm's VIVE 802.11ac chip, StreamBoost will automatically detect the type of device or program you're using to access your network and allocate an appropriate amount of bandwidth to ensure you never suffer lag.

Qualcomm demoed the technology using a soon-to-be-released Alienware router, and we came away impressed with the tech's capabilities. StreamBoost's power lies in its ability to distinguish between not only the devices that are connected to it, but the programs that are running on those devices. For example, if your husband and two children are each streaming high-definition videos on separate devices while you're trying to play "Call of Duty" on your PC, chances are your game's going to hit some lag.

StreamBoost, however, is capable of identifying your system and modulating your network's bandwidth to ensure that your game, which is a real-time program, gets a larger chunk of your network's capacity than the other system's streaming video. If necessary, StreamBoost-enabled routers can even drop the quality of a streaming video from 1080p to 720p to free up your network's bandwidth.

During our demo, Qualcomm showed us how Alienware's router was able to handle traffic for all of the Web-enabled devices in its booth, identify them and determine what Web-connected programs they were running. Despite hosting a myriad of connected devices, we were still able to play the first-person shooter "Team Fortress 2" with a latency of roughly 30 milliseconds, perfect for an online game.

Qualcomm says its StreamBoost technology will be available in the aforementioned Alienware router as well as in D-Link's Gaming Router 5000 in the coming months, so be on the lookout for more StreamBoost routers.

Daniel P. Howley
LAPTOP Senior Writer
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining Laptopmag.com. He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.