Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Pure Jongo at CES Unveiled

Posted by Andrew at 5:34 PM on January 21, 2013

Pure LogoAt this year’s CES, Pure launched Jongo, the world’s most affordable (and colourful) multi-room music system. Vicky tells Todd all about it.

The Jongo range will shortly include a couple of wireless speakers and a hi-fi adaptor, all with both Bluetooth and wi-fi built-in. Music can be streamed using the Pure Connect app via wi-fi to any speaker in range or else smartphones and tablets can stream music directly to the speakers using Bluetooth. Both Apple iOs and Android devices are supported and it uses the existing wi-fi infrastructure: there’s no need for special transmitters.

The S340B speaker will be available soon and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Price is listed as $229.
The stereo speaker (T640B) and the hi-fi adaptor (A140B) will be on-sale in the summer with MSRPs of $329 and $119, respectively.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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TP-Link announces new wall socket WiFi extender

Posted by Alan at 3:15 PM on January 10, 2013

Wireless extenders are not new and tiny ones that sit right in your wall outlet are not even new. However, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, networking company TP-Link unveiled its latest — the TL-WA850RE. It brings a sleek look and a bit more functionality to these tiny extenders.

Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prn/20130110/NY37671

This one packs in wireless “n” which is the new standard, although it is backwards compatible with older standards as well.  There is a host of features which company has oulined:

  • Supports domain name-based login for a more user-friendly setup experience
  • CD-less installation
  • Easily extend wireless coverage at a push of the Range Extender button
  • Profile function helps users remember previously paired wireless networks
  • 300Mbps wireless speed ideal for smooth HD video, music streaming and online gaming
  • Works seamlessly with all 802.11b/g/n devices

The product is expected to hit the market in the second quarter of this year, but the price has not yet been revealed.

D-Link Cloud Cameras and Routers at CES

Posted by Andrew at 2:00 AM on January 7, 2013

D-Link LogoD-Link announced at CES today a range of IP cameras and routers with cloud connectivity for remote monitoring and viewing.

The two new cameras are the Cloud Camera 1050 (DCS-931L) and Cloud Camera 1150 (DCS-933L) which come with remote monitoring as standard via mydlink and mobile devices, but also offer new capabilities such as audio detection with image alerts based on sound, not just motion, and an integrated wireless repeater mode for expanded coverage that eliminates wi-fi dead zones and lets consumers easily add more Cloud Cameras without worrying about existing wireless coverage. That’s a pretty clever idea, building a repeater into the camera. Of course, these are 802.11ac devices and the 1150 also offers infra-red illumination for night operation.

 

DCS-931L CameraDCS-933L Camera
To go with the IP cameras, D-Link’s new 11ac routers are the wireless AC1750 Dual-Band Gigabit Cloud Router and Wireless AC1200 Dual-Band Gigabit Cloud Router (aka DIR-860L and DIR-868L) which deliver speeds of up to 1750 Mb/s and 1200 Mb/s respectively by combining both 11ac and 11n technologies. In addition, both Cloud Routers offer easy remote network management with the free mydlink Lite app from an iPhone, iPad or Android device, which is interesting and could be useful in a number of environments.

Catering directly to today’s increasingly mobile lifestyles, D-Link’s new Cloud Cameras and Cloud Routers offer the latest features and performance available for home network and monitoring needs,” said Daniel Kelley, Associate Vice President of Marketing, D-Link. “Keeping an eye on loved ones and valued possessions is easier than ever with greater Wi-Fi coverage and higher quality viewing and recording day and night. And, the new 11ac Cloud Routers give today’s connected homes with multiple user and high-bandwidth activities the ultimate in network performance and remote management capabilities.

The cameras and routers will be available in the next few months – The Cloud Cameras 1050 and 1150 will be available in February for $79.99 and $99.99 respectively. The dual-band gigabit Cloud Routers DIR-860L and DIR-868L will be later in April for $149.99 and $169.99.

Buffalo MiniStation Air Review

Posted by Andrew at 5:58 PM on November 25, 2012

Buffalo LogoThe Buffalo MiniStation Air is “wireless streaming storage” for smartphones and tablets that provides 500 GB of extra space. Simply, it’s a 500 GB portable hard drive with wifi and complementary apps for Android and iOS. The idea is that the MiniStation Air connects to your PC or laptop via USB 3 and gets loaded up with stacks of music and video which can then be played via an app when out-and-about. It’s a great idea, but how does it stack up against “the cloud” and other solutions such as Pogoplug? Let’s find out.

Buffalo MiniStation Air Box

The MiniStation Air itself is a small black and grey unit, 130 x 84 x 23 mm. The top is a polished black surface with four pinprick status LEDs embedded in it and the sides and bottom are a silvery-grey with buttons and connectors on two of the sides.

Buffalo MiniStation Air

This is a USB 3.0 device which is immediately apparently from the shape of the connector. (Apologies for using stock photos but my own photos were all rubbish).

Buffalo MiniStation Air USB3

Connecting the MiniStation Air to the PC was simply a case of plugging it in with the device appearing as a removable drive. Copying media files took no time at all thanks to the USB 3 connection. It works with USB 2 as well, things just take a bit longer.

Once the Air is loaded up, it can be disconnected from the PC and then powered up on its own. At this point, the MiniStation Air is broadcasting a wifi signal (802.11n/g/b) and it’s easy to connect to it using the SSID and passkey details provided on the bottom of the Air.

Browsing the MiniStation Air

To get the MiniStation Air to work fully with smartphones and tablets, Buffalo provide an app for both Android and iOS which can be downloaded from the application app store. I was only able to test out the Android version, but once installed, it’s easy to browse the files and folders on the Air.

Music PlayerPlaying music or watching videos is just a case of tapping on the file. Photos and music are handled within the app, but videos are handed over to the default video player on the device. Movies started up within a couple of seconds (if that) and music started almost instantly. The music player is basic and as with many of these devices, doesn’t correctly pick up track tags, so albums are arranged alphabetically rather than in track order.

There isn’t a full “HD” app for the tablets, but there is some differentiation between tablets and smartphones. For example, on a tablet, pictures are previewed alongside the folder but this doesn’t happen on a smartphone, even when rotated to landscape. However, the four expanding arrows in the toolbar at the bottom shows that this isn’t a native tablet app.

Tablet Preview

The Edit part of the app allows files to be up- and downloaded from the MiniStation Air. It’s the usual check-box / select operation affair but for the small numbers of files that are likely to be transferred this way, it’s fine.

The Settings area provides access to the SSID and passkey plus other details such as hostname and workgroup. Nothing particularly unexpected here but the MiniStation Air has one last trick up its sleeve. The Air can be connected to another wifi network, preferably one that has a connection to the Internet. This means that although the smartphone is connected to the Air’s wifi, an onward connection to the Internet is provided for other queries or web surfing while listening to music. It’s pretty slick and very handy. It’s also something Buffalo should make a bit more obvious.

Performance-wise, it says that the Air can support eight simultaneous connections with three HD streams. I tested two HD simultaneous streams and it worked flawlessly. Battery life is claimed to be “up to 4 hours” and I wouldn’t disagree – I saw over three hours with a mix of video and music. The Air is powered and recharged via USB so it’s easy enough to hook it up for extended operation.

Any problems? Not really. A couple of wishes, though. First, a Windows / Mac app to use the MiniStation Air wirelessly would be good. Second, some kind of security on the device would be handy as being portable, it’s going to be awfully easy to lose. Finally, an SSD version with longer battery life but perhaps less storage would be interesting but probably too expensive to be considered.

Overall, the MiniStation Air is a good product that will appeal to those smartphone and tablet users who need more-than-average storage…much more than average. The Air is available now from all good retailers with a street price of £100-£120.

The MiniStation Air app was tested on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone and a Motorola Xoom 2 ME tablet.

Thanks to Buffalo for the loan of the MiniStation Air.

 

D-Link Releases 802.11ac Dual Band Wireless Adapter

Posted by Alan at 2:53 PM on November 13, 2012

Easy WPS Push Button SetupWhile 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.

Features

  • 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.

Buy it now: D-Link Systems, Inc. Wireless AC1200 Dual Band USB Adapter (DWA-182)

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition

Posted by Andrew at 12:55 AM on October 18, 2012

GoPro have announced the latest addition to their lineup of action cameras, the Hero3 Black Edition and it’s some camera. Capable of 4k video recording, albeit at 12 fps, and 60 fps at 1080p, this captures adrenalin-fuelled action in all its glory. Other features include burst modes, time-lapse, wi-fi video preview and a wi-fi controller.

GoPro Hero3

 

If you want to show off your extreme adventures, this is the camera to have. It’s pricey enough at $399 (£379) and there are lesser models at $299 (£279) and $199 (£179) for the silver and white variants respectively. As expected, there’s a range of accessories for attaching cameras to machines, helmets, bodies and other sporting equipment. The Black Edition will be out in November.

To show off the features of the Hero3, GoPro commissioned this film which was shot entirely with a Hero3. It’s stunning.

“Mermaids!” says my daughter.

 

D-Link Shipping 1,750Mbps Router

Posted by Alan at 6:14 PM on July 17, 2012

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.

D-Link Systems, Inc. Amplifi Cloud Router 5700 (DIR-865L)

Three Brings Budget MiFi to the UK

Posted by Andrew at 4:39 PM on May 16, 2012

Three LogoBased 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.

Huawei E5331 MiFi

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.

Which Type of Wi-Fi Hog are You?

Posted by JenThorpe at 11:58 PM on May 11, 2012

Starbucks, and other cafes, have spent a great deal of energy in trying to make their businesses as comfortable and welcoming as possible. Those that offer free Wi-Fi end up attracting people who intend to use that free service for hours. A survey found that there are four categories of what could be called “Wi-Fi Hogs”. Which of these types describes you?

How many times have you walked into a Starbucks, (or other cafe), only to find that the majority of the tables are occupied by people who are typing into their laptops while listening to their iPods? Personally, I have seen this a lot.

A survey found that there are four different types of “Wi-Fi Hogs”:

Type One: “FIRST!”
This group believes that by virtue of having found an open seat, or empty booth, that they are now entitled to sit there for as long as they want to. They got to it first. They will sprawl across the table or booth, scattering their stuff all over it, so no one else can sit next to them. They might have bought something when they first came to the cafe, but, this is not necessarily true all the time.

Type Two: “I’m renting this space – forever”.
This group feels that it is perfectly acceptable to occupy a table or booth for as long as they like – but only if they actually bought something. After all, if they made a purchase, then it means that they are, officially, a customer. They will proudly display their empty coffee cup on their table, signaling to the people who are looking for a place to sit that they do, in fact, have a right to stay put.

Type Three: “I’m not done yet.”
This group feels that it is perfectly okay to take up a table in a cafe if you are actually eating or drinking something that you purchased from the cafe. They will get refill after refill, until their bladders cannot take any more. They might eat or drink very slowly, so they can take up the table for a longer span of time, without feeling bad about doing so. Once they run out of product, they will get up, and let someone else take their seat.

Type Four: “I paid for an hour.”
This group believes that buying a drink or a pastry entitles them to take a seat, or a booth, for about an hour. When that hour is about to end, they feel that it is acceptable to stay, but only if they buy another drink, or another pastry. This gives them another hour that they take up space at that table and continue to use the Wi-Fi that the cafe offers for free.

Image: Office Coffee by BigStock

TP-Link Mini Wireless Routers at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 12:22 AM on April 25, 2012

TP-Link WR702N wireless-n routerTP-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.