Oct 01 2015

News - NETGEAR Announces Tri-band AC5300 X8 R8500 802.11AC Wi-Fi Router

Today NETGEAR announced the latest addition to their high-end consumer 802.11AC Wi-Fi routers; the $400 Nighthawk X8 R8500. Like other “AC5300” routers the X8 is based on a 1.4GHz SoC with tri-band Wave2 sporting one “1000Mbps” 2.4GHz and two “2166Mbps” 5GHz radios. Unlike previous generations of 802.11AC routers the X8 has two features which make it very unique compared to the competition; powered antennas and six Gigabit Ethernet ports. With two of the wired ports supporting link aggregation (including 802.3ad) it pairs nicely with NETGEAR’s other product announcement.

Unfortunately MU-MIMO is not yet enabled on the device, but the hardware is ready -- just waiting on firmware which should ship by end-of-year. While this is interesting, to take full advantage clients will need to be MU-MIMO enabled as well so it isn’t nearly as exciting as the active antennas which take signal amplification away from the noisy mainboard and places it where it can make the most difference to every wireless client, as well as cutting down on the number of physical antennas hanging off the router. According to NETGEAR’s PR, this has incredible benefit (see above), and I’m inclined to agree, but of course it’s something that we’ll want to test out before repeating it too loudly.

Full PR after the click.

Sep 25 2015

Review - D-Link AC3200 Ultra Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router - DIR-890L

D-Link DIR-890L

Last January I had a chance to check out D-Link’s upcoming lineup of big-red routers (a welcome departure from the bland canister of previous years Smile), with the $290/£215 DIR-890L being the first to ship and the first to make it into “the lab”. Offering a dual-core 1GHz CPU, four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, and USB2.0/3.0 expansion it ticks all the boxes of a modern high-end 802.11AC Wi-Fi router. What makes the D-Link DIR-890L interesting is that it is our first look at Broadcom’s XStream platform, which pairs 1x2.4GHz (600Mbps) alongside 2x5GHz (1300Mbps) radios to earn the AC3200 moniker. With next generation “Wave 2” AC2350 802.11AC routers already on the market, the obvious question is how the Tri-band approach holds up against newer technology. Let’s find out.

Sep 03 2015

News - The FCC Wants To Eliminate Custom Wi-Fi Router Firmware

I was quite a shocked the other day to discover that the FCC wants to ban custom/3rd party firmware for Wi-Fi routers like dd-wrt. The goal, which is understandable from their perspective, is to remove the ability of radio wireless devices to work outside of their allowable parameters. The problem is that this is one of those "use a sledgehammer to crack a nut" solutions - it is inappropriately disproportionate. Fortunately it's not too late to act, and someone has setup a page on what we can do which includes sending feedback to the FCC via their website.

Save WiFi


Aug 26 2015

Review - Sewell Direct Ghost IR Extender

Sewell Direct Ghost IR Extender

Infrared (IR) line-of-sight (LoS) is a cruel requirement, too often ignored by A/V cabinet designers and dismissed by the main furniture decision makers who “don’t want to see” the kit that makes the picture box work. Of course, solving the control problem afterwards is usually someone else’s responsibility; and chances are that since you’re reading this – it’s you. There are a few solutions available, including universal remotes that use RF for remote-to-hub communication with hub-to-IR blasters to manage the devices, but they are more expensive and more complex than a device like the $35 Sewell Direct Ghost IR Extender. Let’s find out if this simple, battery powered extender can solve your LoS issues or if it’s best left on the shelf.

Aug 25 2015

News - Plex for Roku Freely Available

If you're a Plex user with a Roku, you should check out the channel that is now freely available for everyone.

That's right, the new Plex channel for Roku players is out of Plex Pass preview mode and FREE to all of our lovely users. With a sleek new look and improved support for lots of new features, the streaming experience is awesome, on-point, gooch, or whatever the cool kids are saying today. Discovery features make it easier than ever to find new content and come across things you haven't seen or listened to in a while, and you can enjoy customized categories of media based on your viewing habits. The music experience has been improved as well, with play queue and playlist support for everyone and Premium music for our Plex Pass members.


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