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.
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.
802.11ac wireless was introduced at CES 2012. Unfortunately when the devices were launched there were no adapters to support it. This meant that people were buying expensive wireless products without having any way to support the speeds they were capable of. Fortunately at CES 2013 a couple of manufacturers started releasing 802.11ac adapters. However, there are two schools of thought about how to implement these adapters. We will be taking a look at both in the next couple of weeks, but we will kick things off with a look at the USB 2.0 NETGEAR A6200 Dual Band 802.11ac WiFi Adapter. Let’s dive in and take a look.
Home networking gear has been making some leaps in speed and sophistication since its introduction. These leaps have made wireless in the home more usable and configurable. Much of the work on this side of the product (making things easier to configure and use) has been behind the scenes, but this work has pushed wireless technology further into our homes. Now the big ticket item is the new 802.11ac wireless standard. However there is still a huge market for 802.11n wireless products with dual concurrent bands (2.4GHz and 5GHz). Right now these wireless products are what you are going to see in the market and what consumers are interested in simply because of their prevalence. So with that in mind we are taking about an 802.11n wireless router from Asus, the RT-N66U Dark Knight Wireless router.
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.
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.
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.
One of the nice things about the latest generation of the 802.11 wireless specification (802.11n) is that there is a lot of headroom available in it before there is a need to move to a new generation. When 802.11n first hit the market it was limited to around 150Mbps. This was due to quite a few factors, most notable of these was the use of spatial streams (breaking the signal into separate streams and reassembling them in proper order at the far end. Once this was combined with MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out) things really took off. Now we are hitting the upper edge of the 802.11n spectrum with the 450Mbps routers and adapters. This new line is getting up there and finally pushing the upper limits of what you can do with this latest revision of the 802.11 protocol. We have another one of TRENDNet’s 450Mbps wireless routers in the lab. This time it is the TEW-692GR a 450Mbps concurrent dual band gaming router with a price tag of around $135. So follow along as we find out if this is really worth your time and money.
For the majority of people the term wireless means a simple router or access point (AP) and that is that. However, when you look at wireless on a larger scale you have to have a means to control access points in your organization with a little more efficiency. The thought of going from AP to AP and manually making changes to ensure proper coverage or channel plans is one that would keep most network engineers up at night. However systems that offer a centralized management point for multiple Aps are typically out of the range of small and even medium sized businesses. NETGEAR has stepped in and created a few products to cover this market. We have their WC7600 Wireless controller and a pair of WN370 Access Points in the lab, so let’s check this bundle out and see how it fits in.
Apple is famous for many things. They are famous for making the iPhone and iPad, they are famous for their never ending stream of patents for things that already exist and last but not least they are famous for making sure that you cannot use their mobile products without their approval. You see if you buy an iDevice your core file system is pretty much locked down. Now there are ways to get into the file system and move things around, but it can get messy and things do not always make the transition intact. The other side of this is that there is no way to add more storage to any of their products. It is not like an Android or Windows based tablet with an SD card slot or USB ports. So what can you do if you bought one of the 16GB non-3G iPads or if you only own the iPad touch? Kingston has an answer for you. Kingston has put their expertise in making flash drives to good use and attached a flash drive to a wireless controller that can also act as a wireless bridge. They are calling it the Wi-Drive and when you pair this up with the WiDrive app from the AppStore you might just have a relatively low cost answer to a lot of people’s needs. So follow along as we take a look at the $180 32GB Wi-Drive on a first generation iPad.