While all laptops these days have built-in wireless connectivity, it is still not included in every device on the market. For those unconnected pieces of hardware there is still the trusty USB stick wireless adapter, and D-Link has pushed the envelope a bit for those devices by releasing a new 802.11ac dual-band adapter.
The AC1200 comes with a host of new features that will hopefully improve your connectivity. In fact, the company refers to this as “next generation” technology, but benchmark tests are still needed to bear that statement out.
Wireless AC Technology for Superior Wireless Performance – Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Dual Band N Technology for use in 2.4GHz or 5GHz Networks
Compatible with Existing Wi-Fi Networks (a/g/n)
Access Secure Networks using WPA™ or WPA2™
Wi-Fi Protected Setup™ (WPS) Push Button for Easy Connection to a Wireless Network
USB Extension Cradle for Placement Flexibility
The new D-Link AC1200 is available right now online from retailers like Amazon for $69.99, which isn’t a bad price providing it lives up to it’s billing. It certainly sounds promising enough. As with all of the modern wireless standards, it is backwards-compatibale with earlier standards and uses a simple WPS button for easy setup. You can learn more by visiting D-Link.
Let’s say you’re a crack team at Palm who suddenly has nothing to do because HP decides to get out of the mobile device market. What do you do to follow up on the Treo, the Centro, WebOS and the TouchPad? You create Hiku, a pebble-sized gadget that “turns everyday grocery shopping into something modern, magical and fun” and fund it via Kickstarter.
What is Hiku? Basically, it’s a barcode scanner with built-in wifi that’s intended to send your shopping list to your mobile phone so that when you are in store, you can get everything that you need. And if you don’t have a box or tin handy to scan, you can talk to Hiku and tell it what you want.
Out of the box, it’s going to support iOS with Android coming along soon after launch. There’s also integration with Evernote and Remember the Milk. Check out some of the videos on Kickstarter or YouTube – they show what the Hiku can do and it is really cool. More advanced features include checking prices on the Net and showing where a product can be bought cheaply.
One of the cleverest things is how you program your wifi settings onto the Hiku. It uses Electric Imp‘s BlinkUp technology which uses light pulses to transmit information and the light pulses are generated by your smartphone. Amazing – there’s a video of the prototype working on YouTube.
I’m backing this project partly to support the ex-Palm guys, but mainly because it’s such a clever kitchen gadget. The Kickstarter funding round closes in about 2 days and they need another $24k-odd to hit the $80,000 target. $99 gets you on the list for a Hiku so if you are thinking of ordering one, get your pledge in now.
The launch of 4G services in the UK by Everything Everywhere today has been heralded by the majority of the tech blogs and news sites as a long-overdue success. But is this a victory for common-sense or has Ofcom simply managed to cover-up its own incompetence? (For those outside the UK, Ofcom is the regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries.)
Here’s part of article from GNC that I wrote in October of last year.
“Ofcom, the UK’s regulator for the telecommunications industry, issued an update on its plans for the auctioning off of the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum bands. These are the frequencies that will be used for the delivery of 4G services.
There has already been one consultation on the auction of the frequencies but based on the responses received, Ofcom has decided to carry out an additional second consultation at the end of 2011 which will run for around 8 weeks. The outcome of the consultation and auction proposals will be published in the summer of 2012, with a delayed frequency auction expected in Q4 2012. More likely Q1 2013, based on their track record.”
So how is it possible that Everything Everywhere, or EE, as it is going to be called, can a launch a 4G service when the frequency auction hasn’t even begun?
The answer is that Orange and T-Mobile, the partners in EE, put a proposal to Ofcom that they should be allowed to use one of their existing frequencies (1800 MHz) to launch 4G services in the UK without waiting for the auction. Ofcom thought this was a brilliant idea and gave the go-ahead. As you can imagine, some of the other players in the UK’s telecoms market (Three, Vodafone, O2) were less than thrilled at Ofcom handing EE a 4G monopoly for at least six months. Imagine how tempting it would be to switch networks if a 4G iPhone 5 was available from EE and only EE.
Depending on your point of view, the launch of 4G in the UK is either a victory for a common-sense approach to available spectrum or else it’s a monumental cover-up over the way Ofcom has failed to manage the transition to 4G.
I’m in the latter camp and I won’t be buying a 4G device or service from EE.
If you follow tech news then you may have already heard that there is a new WiFi standard coming. Today, router maker D-Link began shipping their first product using the 802.11ac standard. The company claims a staggering 1,750Mbps speed for The Cloud Router 5700 (DIR-865L).
According to reports, the router is “capable of reaching speeds of up to 1,750Mbps speeds when operating in this dual mode, which is made up of 1,300Mbps wireless-AC and 450Mbps wireless-N speeds.” The router also contains a cloud app that makes it accessible from anywhere in the world. In addition, there is also an app that allows users to connect a mobile device to the USB port and share data across it. Finally, there are also four 10/100/1000 ethernet ports for gigabit wired connections.
The new router carries an MSRP of $190 U.S. and is available from various online retailers such as Amazon. Of course, the router is backwards compatible for all of your current devices.
Before you get too excited about the whole cellular radiation debate, which is mostly debunked by the way, this in-depth report was about tower workers falling to their deaths due to poor regulation of safety issues while climbing these monstrous metal towers (climbers are 10 times more likely to die than construction workers). Frontline aired the show on PBS May 22nd and the entire episode is now available for streaming on their web site.
To nobody’s surprise all of the cell companies refused comment during the show. In fact, we learned that virtually none of them have even been fined by OSHA for any of the accidents. They are above responsibility thanks to layers of protection they have put between themselves and the actual contractors who do the dirty work. Incidentally, many of those workers make around $10 per hour to climb hundreds of feet, mostly unprotected because that allows them to climb faster and get more jobs done. One of the worst offenders turns out to be AT&T, who pushed hard for fast work to be done during their iPhone expansion.
While one retired AT&T executive did talk with the show, the other interviews are with contract companies and the actual workers. You can watch chapter 1 of the episode in the embedded video below. A word of warning – there are a few graphic images of bodies laying at the base of towers.
Based on the entirely unscientific method of “asking my friends”, British mobile telco Three has pretty much cornered the market in personal wifi hotspots. It’s probably a combination of having the MiFi trademark and offering competitive data rates that has led to their success.
Their current model, the Huawei E586, is shortly to be joined by a budget version, the Huawei E5331, according to today’s press release from Three. Like the original model, the E5331 offers HSPA+ with a theoretical download limit of 21 Mb/s and a battery life of 4.5 hours. There’s no word on what the budget price will actually be but you can buy the E586 for £50 upfront with a £15 / 5GB no commitment rolling contract.
The budget E5331 has a narrower longer screen showing signal strength, no of connected devices, battery strength and waiting text messages. The MiFi supports up to five devices at a time.
Mark Brewer, head of mobile broadband at Three said, “As the market leader in mobile broadband it’s great to be able to bolster our range with yet another high speed mobile Wi-Fi device. The Value MiFi offers fast browsing and a seamless streaming experience, all on Three’s award winning mobile broadband network.”
I will be reviewing the Huawei E586 for Geek News Central shortly, but these are very handy devices. It’s much more cost effective to have one of these serving multiple wifi-only tablets than it is to buy 3G devices and multiple data contracts.
TP-Link had a large stand at The Gadget Show Live with a huge range of different products on show. Switches, ADSL modems, wireless routers, IP cameras, Powerline adaptors; you could easily build a complete home IT infrastructure using only TP-Link products.
What caught my eye was a range of portable mini wireless routers, “nano routers”, that were smaller than paperback books. Three different models were on show; the first was the TL-WR702N, a relatively standard 11n wireless router but only 57 mm square and 18 mm deep – it’s the one shown in the picture left.
Second was the TL-MR3020, a bit bigger at 74 x 67 x 22 mm but offering 3G connectivity via a dongle as well.
Finally, a brand new wireless router was on display, the TL-MR3040, that included a rechargeable battery giving several hours of use. More rectangular than square, it uses a 3G dongle (rather than integrated SIM tray), to get mobile connectivity. Price is expected to be less than £50.
Eric from TP-Link took me through their range in more detail.
Veho probably isn’t the first name that springs to mind when thinking about gadgets but they have a sizeable range from miniature video cameras to digital photo frames and Bluetooth headsets. In the UK, their products are sold in the main big boxes – PC World and Currys.
On Veho’s stand at Gadget Show Live, I played with a USB microscope which showed magnified images on the PC screen. Perhaps a little limited with just two magnification levels (20x or 200x) but good fun nevertheless.
In this interview, James Farmer from Veho takes me through some of the Veho range, including their Muvi miniature DV cameras, Pebble portable battery packs and Mimi wireless speakers. I really liked their Pebble range of battery packs as they had a lovely smooth shape, like the original Palm Pre.
For the price of watching an ad every 40 minutes, AT&T wants to give you free Wi-Fi (in the Dallas-Fort Worth Int'l Airport...for now)
AT&T is taking a shot at free, ad-supported Wi-Fi for travelers spending time at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Gigaom.com reported earlier this month that AT&T will provide free wireless network access starting in September of this year to the nearly 60 million travelers that pass through DFW each year that are willing to suffer a 30-second video ad for every 40 minutes of Wi-Fi usage.
According to Gigaom.com, the specifics of the deal are still a bit sketchy. The type of devices this service will be made available to will likely depend on whether the actual ad can be served to that device – for example, a laptop, smart phone, or tablet.
The question then becomes, as Gigaom.com proposes as well, if this is a successful venture for AT&T, then how could they leverage the strength of their existing Wi-Fi hotspot infrastructure across the country to build out this ad-supported network.
Personally, I would sit through a short ad every 40 minutes for free Wi-Fi. If the only other alternative is paying exorbitant rates to connect my laptop or device to the Internet, I would suffer a lot more advertising than that.
Also, think about this as an opportunity for advertisers – plenty of services and products would do well to reach thousands of people sitting in airport terminals. If managed right and fully scaled, AT&T could generate some significant ad revenue from this.
New LU70 mobile broadcasting unit - image courtesy LiveU
Portable broadcasters will have a lot to digest at the 2012 NAB Show thanks to the newest LiveU video-over-cellular offering – the professional-grade LU70 Mobile Uplink Unit.
The big boost with this newest incarnation of LiveU’s backpack broadcasting unit comes in the antennae array on the LU70 – an internal/external arrangement designed to improve connectivity in less than desirable conditions. After all, a portable video broadcasting unit is only as good as its ability to get that signal.
“The internal antennas support a larger number of frequencies, ensuring enhanced signal performance with long-range reception and increased uplink capability, “ LiveU announced just days before this year’s NAB show in Las Vegas. “The new external antenna array provides additional resiliency for extreme scenarios, such as heavily crowded locations. Boosted by its remotely-located antennas, the LU70 supports up to 14 cellular links simultaneously. The unit can automatically swap between internal and external antennas as needed, according to the network conditions.” Read the rest of this entry »