In my time in IT I have worked with a number of wireless devices for the consumer and for businesses. These have ranged everywhere from simple $40 products that are only meant to get you online (not fast, but online) to multi-component wireless systems costing thousands of dollars. All of these still use the same basic technology to get you connected and to pass traffic between your device and the internet. At their heart is going to be a wireless radio, but this does not mean that all wireless products are the same; quite the opposite in fact. There is a clear line between wireless for the average home and wireless for the average business. The factors are mostly in the software used and the features that you have at your disposal, but you also will often have more advanced hardware under the hood as well. Today we will be taking a look at standalone wireless access point that is aimed at the business market (although there are many things that consumers will like about as well). This is the NETGEAR WNDAP360 ProSafe Dual Band Wireless Access Point; let’s see if worth the $290 it will cost to put one of these in your office.
With the big push for everything in the cloud we have been focusing on ways to consumers and businesses to bring their data back into their own control. One of the least expensive methods for this is through the use of a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device. These are devices that have a minimum of two drive bays and allow for you to set up RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) Volume for performance and/or redundancy. Today in the Lab we have a five-bay NAS device from Thecus. This is an Atom based system with support for up to 15TB of RAW space and 3GB of memory. So let’s take a look at the Thecus N5550 and see what this $600 (empty) NAS has to offer as we dig deep into its design, build and features.
Storage is something that everyone needs. No matter if you are a single end user or a gigantic corporation you have to have a place to keep your data. This one little fact has never changed and probably never will. The difference is that home users are now higher on the scale when it comes to storage needs than many small and medium sized business. Home users are maintain more and more data in the form of movies, music pictures and even installation files while many small businesses are only storing simple documents and perhaps a few databases. It has changed the dynamic in the way storage products are marketed in many ways and this is not truly a completely good thing. While a normal consumer might store more information than a small business they do not have the same need to never be offline or unavailable. The typical home user also does not have the same number of connections to their data as a medium or even small business. There needs to be a class of NAS that can handle these requirements without pushing the price tag over the top. Synology has a very solid answer for these questions and more all bundled up inside the new DS1513+; this is a five-bay NAS that includes four 1Gbps LAN and a ton of other features. Let’s dive in and take a look shall we?
Wireless networking is one of those things that we all have come to rely on. We tend to expect to be able to connect just about anywhere now. I mean, even McDonalds has wireless now so why shouldn’t we? But what do you do when you come across one of those places that either does not have it, has poor quality (like many hotels) or you are just concerned about your security when on those open networks? Well there are a few companies that have a solution to this and we are going to take a look at one from EDIMAX today. It is one of the world’s smallest 802.11n wireless routers the EDIMAX BR-6258n.
We have our third victim… um test subject in our continuing Network Attached Storage (NAS) device reviews. This time it is from a company with a fair recognizable name in the industry, NETGEAR. For many the name NETGEAR means low cost consumer networking products and maybe a lower reliability rating. We have to agree that some of that reputation was rightfully earned in the past, but they have since changed things around and are now making some fairly solid products for the consumer, SMBs and the enterprise. We have already covered their ProSafe WNDAP360 wireless access point and found it to be a well put together product. Now we are going to dive into their pro line of NAS products with the ReadNAS Pro 6. This is a 6 bay device that can support up to 12TB of RAW storage and has more than its share of features to boot. So let’s take a look at what you get with the ReadyNAS Pro 6 from NETGEAR.
We have another network storage device in our labs; the Thecus N2800. This is a 2-bay NAS with dual network controllers, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and eSATA connectivity. We have tinkered around with some of Thecus’ products before and found that they usually are looking at getting you solid performance, but you are not going to get a ton of frills with them. This is not to say they do not have their own feature set that is worth talking about, but that in the past we have found them to be very straight forward products. Good performance, good price and they will do what you need them to. We have been told that this has changed at Theucus and they are moving in the direction of adding in a wider feature set with their NAS Products. So let’s take a look and see if there has been any improvement.
The launch of the 450Mbps segment of the 802.11n specification was sort of backwards. We saw some of the first routers last year in the September – October time frame. Then at CES we got our first glimpse of one of the new 450Mbps wireless adapters. This was the TRENDNet TEW-687GA that we just finished testing. But we are not going to stop there as we have another 450Mbps adapter from TRENDNet in the lab. This one is more PC specific and connects over USB 2.0. You lose the universal appeal that the 687GA had but gain more on portability. So let’s introduce the TRENDNet TEW-684UB 450Mbps Dual Band USB wireless adapter.
When wireless networking was first introduced it was a very cool concept and people bought into it. The problem was that it was also about as slow as dial-up internet was. The good news is that all technologies advance and wireless was non exception. Once the idea caught on we quickly ramped up in speed, but wireless was never quite able to keep up with a wired connection. We saw these connections leap ahead by a factor of 10 while wireless had small incremental speed jumps. All of that changed in 2011 when researchers built up the next specification for wireless speed, 802.11ac. This speed increase more than doubled what wireless was able to do previously. Suddenly wireless was just as fast as a wired connection (in theory). We have a few routers and adapters in the lab and will be taking a look at them. Today we are going to show you the TRENDNet TEW-812DRU AC1750 dual band wireless router.
In the world of the enterprise bandwidth is everything. If you do not have enough or you cannot keep your systems running then you are sure to lose money. The problem is getting the bandwidth you need without spending too much to get it. The current backbone to client standard is 1Gbe (Gigabit Ethernet). This give you plenty of bandwidth for client operations as well as voice traffic (which is typically about 20% of your data usage. Now this is great when you are talking about client to server traffic, but what happens when you need servers to talk to each other or servers to talk to storage? Here you need significantly more bandwidth than you do out to clients. Right now at the high-end of the spectrum you have 40Gbe (with 100Gbe coming very soon) and just under this is 10Gbe. Traditionally 10Gbe has been the playing ground for fiber optics or for TwianAixal cables. The problem is that these are not all that economical and end up out of the hands of all but larger enterprise networks. Things have changed though, just like 1Gbe over 10 years ago, 10Gbe is now hitting the price range that puts it into the hands of small and medium sized businesses. We are going to take a look at one of these options today in the form of the NETGEAR ProSafe XS708E 8-port 10Gbe Ethernet Switch.
Since its introduction there has been something of an internal battle with wireless. On the one hand it is very convenient; you just connect to an access point and you have freedom as long as you are inside the network rand. On the other the speed is not always that great and, if the signal is too weak, you can end up dropping packets, files and losing data. Over the years there have been great improvements in wireless speed, but no matter what it has never been able to match the speed of a wired connection. At least it could not until 802.11ac wireless arrived on the scene. This new specification offers a theoretical limit of 1.3Gbps over a 5GHz wireless connection. We have already taken a look at a router and USB 2.0 adapter, now we are going to look at what happens when you put USB 3.0 into the mix with the TRENDNet TEW-805UB adapter.