Networking

Dec 04 2017

Review - Fingbox Network Security System

 

If you use an ISP provided, low-end, or older Wi-Fi router, the options for network management are often quite limited. There is simply no way to find out who is connected to your network or control which devices have access when. Devices which add this capability have recently started popping up on the market; each with a different set of capabilities, and approach to getting more control over network. From this mix, the $129/£125 Fingbox focuses primarily on device awareness and network control, with little-to-no functionality around specific types of content which places it in a slightly different market than other consumer network monitoring devices.

May 27 2016

Review - NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 - AC5300 Tri-Band Quad-Stream Wi-Fi Router (R8500)

NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 - AC5300 Tri-Band Quad-Stream Wi-Fi Router (R8500)

 

NETGEAR touts the Nighthawk X8 AC5300 (R8500) Smart Wi-Fi router as “the next wave in Wi-Fi”. Generally, I am inclined to dismiss this sort of hyperbole, but the $350/£350 802.11AC includes features that are a reasonable step up from other models including: quad-streams, two 802.11AC radios, Wave 2 enhancements , and six Gigabit Ethernet ports, with two 802.3ad (link aggregation) enabled. Alongside this, it also includes a feature that should have a tangible benefit for all clients – active antennas. By moving the amplifiers from the mainboard to the tops of the antennas, there should be a clear benefit in signal strength and clarity. I am not sure that is enough to count as a “next wave”, but it has got me very interested in testing out the R8500.

Apr 22 2015

Review - NETGEAR ProSAFE 8-Port Gigabit Click Switch GSS108E

NETGEAR ProSAFE 8-Port Gigabit Click Switch GSS108E

First thing, let’s get it out of the way that managed switches aren’t for everyone. The vast majority of users won’t require features, like port mirroring, VLANs, QoS, or link aggregation which are typically offered by a managed switch, but for those who do there is simply no substitute. With that said, given the $70 price, flexible “Click Switch” mounting, and included USB charging ports even if managed features aren’t on your “must” list the NETGEAR GSS108E warrants a closer look.

Dec 16 2013

Review - NETGEAR R7000 Nighthawk Smart AC1900 Wi-Fi Router

Nothing can deliver the raw capability of Gigabit Ethernet when it comes to pushing large amounts of data around the home. Unfortunately, in many homes it just is not practical to pull Cat-6 through the walls, so other methods must be found to enable the demands of a fully functional media consumption network. Where many other low-installation-effort home networking technologies have failed, 802.11AC’s 1300Mbps of theoretical bandwidth is tantalizing. With more than enough headroom to deliver stutter free streaming it holds tremendous promise, but whether the technology can really deliver was still open even after our first look. Today we have another chance to examine it however – this time with NETGEAR’s $199 Dual-band AC1900 R7000 Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router. The R7000 is particularly interesting not only because its dual-core 1GHz processor and USB 3.0 support represents the current state-of-the art in Wi-Fi appliances, but because the underlying Broadcom 4709 Communication Processor (which makes that possible) marks a shift from MIPS to ARM for this market segment. Of course that change is only meaningful if the R7000 can deliver the stability, feature set and performance demanded by the home media enthusiast.

Oct 09 2013

Review - ASUS RT-AC66U AC1750 Wireless 802.11AC Router

ASUS RT-AC66U

When you cannot install Ethernet throughout your house there are a few options available, but none tantalize the same way as 802.11AC’s promise of Gigabit-esque bandwidth with ease of wireless installation. Admittedly the recent trend in marketing routers by summing their potential speed is a bit confusing, but given the chance to redefine the home networking landscape we can forgive a lot. With a pair of ASUS’s RT-AC66U Dual-Band Wireless-AC1750 on hand we have the opportunity to explore this exciting new standard in depth. Can this $189 802.11AC multifunction home networking appliance deliver, or will it simply join the list of “not good enoughs” when it comes to meeting our most demanding media streaming needs.

Sep 03 2013

Review - NETGEAR AV+ 500 NANO SET (XAVB5601) Powerline Networking Adapters

NETGEAR XAVB5601 Review

When pulling Cat 6 Ethernet cables through the walls is out of the question there are a few options for enabling a high-bitrate-media capable network. MoCA is usually a reliable source of the 100Mbps required, but limited to existing cable infrastructure. New kid, wireless 802.11AC shows significant promise, but won’t come home for anywhere near the price where Powerline networking claims 500Mbps of bandwidth. Historically, Powerline technology has over promised and under delivered--with actual performance falling below the number on the box. With a NETGEAR AV+ 500 NANO SET (XAVB5601) available, it is time to address the technology’s viability again. Asking $110 (£60) at retail, the kit is reasonably priced, has receptacle pass-through offering a solution to a common Powerline gripe, and with 500Mbps to play with, one would expect to have plenty of bandwidth headroom even as distance and environmental load are varied.

Aug 12 2013

Review - ASUS WL-330N 5-in-1 Wireless-N150 Mobile Router

ASUS WL-330N 5-in-1 Wireless-N150 Mobile Router

The myriad of network permutations encountered when traveling with multiple devices is so diverse that covering them all seems impossible. Wired only access, web based authentication or per-device access charges? The ASUS WL-330N 5-in-1 Wireless-N150 Mobile Router has it covered, offering five discrete operating modes: NAT firewall router, access point, repeater, Ethernet adapter or [the almost magical] hotspot. Naturally, packing this many features into a small, USB powered, $45 dongle requires some trade-offs – mostly paid in setup convenience.

Aug 29 2012

Review - Actiontec PWR500 - 500Mbps Powerline Network Adapter Kit

Actiontec PWR500 Powerline Networking Adpater Kit

Powerline networking has a reputation for promising capable “hardwired” networking solutions, but historically often fell short when it came to delivery. Having tried a few iterations of the alternative-to-Ethernet over power wires in the past, in my personal experience this reputation has also proved well deserved. Of course with each new generation, the technology evolves and is therefore worth another look.  To achieve that goal, Actiontec provided their newest Powerline Network Adapter kit, the PWR500. Supporting up to 500Mbps between nodes, and exposing 100Mbps Ethernet to devices, it should be more than a match for even the most demanding file streaming requirements. Combining this with a price of around $50 for two adapters, it could be the perfect way to extend your media to those hard to reach places around your house or apartment.

Jul 16 2012

Review - Green vs. Non-Green Switches

D-Link GreenAs part of a recent effort to consolidate all of our backbone networking kit into a structured wiring panel, it was necessary to add a switch to the mix. Never having played with a "Green Ethernet" device (D-Link DGS-1008G) it seemed like a good idea to pick one up and find out how green it was in comparison to two other Gigabit switches (D-Link 2208/NETGEAR GS605) already in use on my network.

Oct 24 2011

Review - Netgear Universal WiFi Range Extender WN3000RP

In the last 5 - 10 years wireless has vastly changed how we connect devices to the internet in our homes. Every smartphone, laptop, tablet, media streamer, gaming console has the ability to connect to your network through your wireless access point. Along with the ability to no longer having to run an Ethernet cord everywhere you needed network connectivity, there were short comes. As almost everyone can attest to wireless is not 100% perfect, there is always a corner of your home, or an area in your back yard that your wireless can not reach.

That is where wireless repeaters or "range extenders" come into play, they allow you to extend your wireless coverage to distances greater than your access point at home can do on it's own. Lately the trend from many consumer network manufactures is bringing to market these range extenders. Today we were able to review one of the new 802.11N range extenders from Netgear, the Netgear Universal WiFi Range Extender WN3000RP.

The Netgear range extender as we get into later on in the review, allows users to bridge the gap between where your wireless network starts to fall apart and where you would like to use your wireless devices but can not.

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