Posted by Mike Dell at 11:54 PM on February 24, 2011
Today I took the CR48 out in the field. I went to my local coffee shop (not Starbucks) and got on the WiFi. It was no problem getting though their login redirect. Although the WiFi was really slow, I was able to do my normal web surfing and email. I wouldn’t want to try a youtube video on it at that speed. I was getting just 400k down and 128k up. (so much for “high speed” access which is what this coffee shop advertises on their window. Oh well, that’s not really anything to do with Chrome OS.
Then I tried the “free” Verizon EVDO 3G connection. I turned off the WiFi and clicked the little wrench icon in the upper right of the screen. I selected “internet” and then “Cellular”. It took about 3 minutes to connect to Verizon and then it brought up a form to fill out. That included a credit card number. I guess they have to have that to process the account signup. You get 100mb for free per month. They say they won’t charge you unless you sign up for a higher limit account. I’m not sure how they will inform you that you have used up your allotment for the month. I suppose I will find out. Once I was connected I did a speed test and had 1.4m down and 255k up. Exactly the same speed that my Droid was getting. I didn’t stay connected too long on 3G as 100mb isn’t much bandwidth, but it would be good in a pinch if you needed to do something online really quick.
The only other thing I tried today was loading pictures from my camera’s SD card. That worked well. What it did was bring up my Picasa account and loaded them directly online. It looked as though I could have moved them to the mystery “download” folder but I just picked Picasa. It didn’t look like I could get direct access to the card via Chrome, for what it is, it does work ok.
I didn’t spend much more time with the netbook today other then more surfing in the easy chair. On Friday, I’m going to get another opinion from a friend that is in town for the weekend. I’m going to let him take a stab at using it and see what he thinks. He’s like me, very connected with Google, so it shouldn’t be hard for him.
If you want me to try something in the next few days, drop a comment here and I will see what I can do.
Todd talks with Ernest Wolf, CEO of YooTechPros, creators of an Android-based tablet PC that actually looks quite good.
Using the same LG touch screen as the iPad, this tablet offers twin USB ports, a microSD slot, front- and rear-facing cameras and runs Android 2.2. It’s also slightly lighter and thinner than the iPad. Unfortunately, the model in the video is a non-working prototype but it does look good. $399 for the 16 GB, wifi version and available in the Spring.
For the germ-adverse of us, YouTechPros offers an antibacterial screen film for tablets called the iProtector for $19.99.
Steve Iommi chats to Todd and Tom about Somfy‘s new Tahoma system which takes home automation to the next level. It’s based round the concept of “scenes” – a scene might be “weekday-morning” which has certain set of actions, e.g. open blinds at 7.30am, whereas the “weekend-morning” opens the blinds at 8.30. With a whole a range of scenes, everything from blinds to thermostats can be controlled according to the day of the week and the activities of the owner.
As with all things these days, the Tahoma system is connected to the Internet via the homeowner’s Wifi, meaning that the owner can connect via a web browser back to the system to make any changes that might be needed, say, because of changes in the weather.
The underlying technology is the Z-Wave RF home automation wireless standard, so upgrading a home to for automation doesn’t involving lots of recabling. It’s simply a case of replacing the controllers with Z-Wave-compatible ones.
A basic Tahoma system can be professionally installed for under $2000.
Steve Stanzione of D-Link shows off a couple of their latest products to Andy McCaskey, including the Boxee Box.
First up is the Whole Home Router 1000, an 11n wireless router with an interesting design – it’s a black cylinder. The design isn’t just a pretty face, it encapsulates six aerials that create a steerable array that can focus the wireless beam on the location of the receiving wireless device. Out in the second quarter of 2011.
Next is a wireless-n IP camera with IR LED ring for night-viewing. As with many of these devices, you can view the camera image via D-Link’s personal web portal and there are the usual smartphone apps as well for Android and iOS. Apparently IP cameras are selling well and surprisingly, aren’t being used for home security. Many are being used to keep an eye on the interior of homes, keeping track of children and pets or watching over babies.
Finally, Andy looks at the Boxee, D-Link’s flagship product. He reckons the Boxee’s best feature is the on/off button so that it’s not necessary to unplug the device to reboot it. This in some ways reflects the immaturity of all the media streamer products, not just the Boxee – I had an Archos device which was forever hanging on certain media and you had to unplug to restart. Anyway, the Boxee’s range of codecs and the innovative remote control generally set it apart from the competition.
Harry Diamantopoulos of HSTI presents the Wireless Media Stick™. The Wireless Media Stick™ is able to deliver to playback devices the files stored in PC, Mac and NAS (network attached storage) devices. For example, plug the Wireless Media Stick™ into your HDTV’s USB port and watch a movie or view digital photos stored elsewhere on your WiFi home network. The memory is on your network, not on the Wireless Media Stick™. The Wireless Media Stick™ sells for $119 dollars. HSTI has also announced an app that installs on Android smartphones that is able to connect with the Wireless Media Stick™ to enable instant, easy sharing of photos and videos from the phone.
Andy and Esby get the latest on Netgear from David Henry, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Netgear consumer products. There’s a range of Netgear products on show including their flagship wireless router, an N600 dual band wireless router with gigabit ports – the WNDR3700 ($169).
David covers some recent advances in router technology and how Netgear is making it easier for consumers to use what are now much more advanced products, whether it’s wifi, firewalls or routers. Frankly even I don’t understand some of the options on the more complex devices. The WNDR3700 uses push-button WPS to the get the wireless all paired up.
Many of you have wireless dead spots in your home, often because of the fabric of the building or else simply because of the location of the inbound cable or telephone connection. You also may not be able to replace your main router if that’s provided by your cable supplier. If you are in this situation, check out their wireless range extenders.
If wireless isn’t for you, David also covers the new 500 Mb/s Powerline (Homeplug) products and how to get your connected TV or media streamer wired up with network connectivity. For HD video, you need fast data rates and these will deliver the data rates you need.
Lots of great info here on what’s new from Netgear so give it a watch.
Posted by susabelle at 8:27 AM on February 2, 2011
An Oakland, California high school is receiving a gift of Cisco Valet Wireless routers and wireless adapters for its students. The Valet Wireless Router, a new offering from Cisco intended for home use, purports to be one of the easiest to use and set up in the industry.
The purpose of the gift is to give students at the high-risk ARISE high school the access they need from their homes. The ARISE program prepares low-income students to be the first in their families to attend college. The graduating class of 2010 had a 100% college admission rate, which is phenomenal. With the help that Cisco is now offering, it can only help to continue this high rate of transition to college. Students with online access have a much better shot at success than those without, and Cisco hopes to breach this digital divide for the ARISE program.
What is unique about the Valet is how easy it really is. As a person who has had to set up multiple home-based wired and wireless networks, I know what a pain it can be. And after you’re gone, the client is left having to deal with the network and its complicated setup and potential issues. No wonder many routers supplied by phone companies and other ISP’s have the SSID hard-set and the password printed on a sticker on the bottom of the device. Really unsecure, but easier for the client to access and work with than some complicated setup a geek did for them.
Valet promises a 3-step setup process and an easy access system right from your computer to enable parental controls, open or close guest access, and add devices like the XBox to the setup. Both the Valet and the Valet Plus devices offer four ethernet ports for expansion to non-wireless devices, as well.
The routers are a bit pricier than the Linksys model Cisco is known for, but still reasonable. I paid not much less for my latest Netgear router, purchased because my six-year-old Linksys router box had finally failed. I should have held out for the Valet.
Andy McCaskey interviews Ariel Garten, CEO of InteraXon – Thought Controlled Computing. It’s no longer sci-fi, you can now interact with technology using the power of your mind (rather than your thoughts being controlled by computers.)
The system consists of a lightweight headset with two electrodes that detects brainwaves such as alpha and beta waves. Different patterns are associated with different mental states, e.g. concentrating with beta waves and relaxed with alpha, so as your mind changes states an action can be taken. Trivially, you can link your concentration to a light, so while you are concentrating on reading, the light is on and bright, but as you relax and drift off to sleep, the light dims before finally turning off.
Obviously, it’s early days for the technology and Ariel likens the current state to that of voice recognition 20 years ago. Ariel believes that in the future this will be the main way that users interact with technology.
On show was a game called ZenBound 2 which is available for the iPhone and iPad. Normally, the player uses their fingers to manipulate a rope around a sculpture but with InteraXon the player can use their mind to control the game. You can see this in Andy’s video or the original is here. At the end of the game, you can get a report about how you were able to focus or relax.
Ariel also mentions some of the possible medical benefits which are potentially available now that you have a portable EEG system. It uses both Bluetooth or Wifi to communicate from the headband to mobile devices.
If you have a large area to cover with your WiFi router then you have probably experienced “dead zones” in parts of your home, or at the least, areas of low connectivity. You may have looked into ways to solve this and discovered Repeaters, which can be finicky to get working correctly and compatibility with your current router can be problematic or non-existent. Those problems may be solved by a new product coming out soon. Among the things announced by Netgear at CES is the Universal WiFi Range Extender WN3000RP.
The WN3000RP is promising to eliminate “dead zones” and provide more network bandwidth for entertainment, gaming and social networking applications. According to their press release:
If there are rooms in the house that have limited or no wireless coverage because they are too far away from the router, the Universal WiFi Range Extender boosts the existing WiFi signal in order to reach wirelessly to these ‘dead zones’ in the home. Consumers need to simply place the product between the router and areas of the home where additional WiFi access and bandwidth are needed for activities like video streaming on a tablet or smartphone.
Netgear is saying the Universal WiFi Range Extender is that it will be compatible with all existing routers – not just Netgear brand. That’s a big leap forward over most existing Repeaters. You can plug it into any standard electrical outlet in your home. Even better you could move it around any time you need to. It’s also compatible with all current wireless security methods. Here are some of the hightlights.
Extend Network — Extend Internet access throughout your home for wireless devices like iPads®, iPods®, laptops, smart phones, game consoles and TVs
Enhance Existing Equipment — Keep your current equipment and improve coverage to eliminate wireless “dead zones”
Plug-and-play — Sets up in minutes, no need to insert a CD or plug in Ethernet cables
Push ‘N’ Connect — Push ‘N’ Connect using Wi-Fi Protected Setup® (WPS) connects computers and/or routers to the Extender quickly and securely
Optimal Coverage — Link-rate LED locates the best placement spot to provide optimal wireless coverage
Compatible — Works with any wireless b/g/n router or gateway from NETGEAR and other brands
Superior Security — Works with all security standards including WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK, mixed mode and WEP
Connect — Ethernet port allows the Extender to function as a bridge to connect to home theater devices
NETGEAR Green features — Power on/off button, 80% recycled packaging
The Universal WiFi Range Extender should be available in March of this year for an MSRP of $99.99. I have not yet seen any pre-ordering available, but it’s likely that Amazon and others will make that available soon.
At CES in Las Vegas today, TRENDnet will be showing off the first concurrent dual band wireless 11n router. This is the first router on the market that can offer full 450 Mb/s by using both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radio bands.
With advanced MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out) antenna technology and three streams per antenna, the concurrent dual band technology can generate a maximum theoretical throughput of 450 Mb/s and much improved coverage.
The router also comes with gigabit Ethernet ports to ensure high performance on the wired connections, making this an ideal partner for high-definition video streaming from NAS.
“A true 450Mbps concurrent router will provide networking enthusiast with another great option,” stated Sonny Su, Technology Director for TRENDnet. “With the proliferation of so many wireless networked devices, performance matters more than ever before.”
Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) also makes connecting wireless devices straightforward. Press the WPS buttons on each device and they connect up securely.
The TEW-692GR will be available this coming April for $249 from online and retail TRENDnet partners.
Side note: the Wifi standards 11b and 11g use the 2.4 GHz frequency and 11a uses the 5 GHz frequency. However the latter never gained widespread adoption. 11n can use both frequencies, though until now most 11n wireless equipment used either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz but not both.