Faster Wifi in Airplanes Coming Soon…

wifiThanks to the FCC you might be able to finally watch your Netflix from the plane.

Due to a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission, they are looking to take over a handful of newly acquired airwaves. The new spectrum could make your in-flight Wifi experience 30 times faster than what you experience now. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and several colleagues voted unanimously to move forward with this plan.

“The reality is that we expect and often need to be able to get online 24/7, at home, in an office, or on a plane,” said Genachowski.

Companies like gogo wireless will still be controlling in-flight Wifi and you will (for now) still have to pay a fee as you go. However, with a speed as good as a coffee shop, they expect more users pull out their smartphones and tablets to connect up and watch a movie, check email and surf the web while 30,000 feet in the air.

The new Wifi format will share 14.0-14.5 GHz of the spectrum. This will allow data transfer of up to 300 gigabits per second – shared by all aircrafts using Wifi at that moment.

 

 

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0

Parrot AR.DroneRemote control vehicles are fun and remote control aircraft doubly so. Imagine then how much fun a remote control quadricopter is, especially when it’s controlled by wifi from your smartphone. Todd takes flying lessons from Parrot’s Julian.

The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is an update of the original AR.Drone, with the main difference being an HD camera on the drone which streams video footage of the flight back to the device so the operator can see what the Drone is seeing. The AR.Drone 2.0 is controlled via wifi from either an Apple or Android  tablet/smartphone.

There’s some pretty sophisticated technology in the AR.Drone. For example, it has a downward-facing camera that the Drone uses to track motion over the ground. On a windy day, the Drone can hold position over a spot by using this camera to detect wind-blown motion and then compensate for it. Very clever and cool.

The AR.Drone is pricey enough but not unaffordable at $299. Available now from good retailers worldwide.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Daniel Lewis of The Audacity Podcast for the TechPodcast Network.

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TP-Link announces new wall socket WiFi extender

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Hiku on Kickstarter

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.

Hiku Scanning

Hiku

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.

 

Buffalo MiniStation Air

Buffalo LogoStoring data in the cloud for access anywhere is certainly popular, but there are times when it’s better to have the your own data in your own sticky paws. Buffalo‘s new 500GB MiniStation Air gives the best of both worlds, with wireless 11n access from smartphones and tablets in a pocketable form-factor; it’s only 84 x 23 x 130 mm.

The 500 GB drive has plenty of storage for films and music which can be quickly uploaded to the unit thanks to the USB 3.0 connection. Up to three clients can connect to the MiniStation Air at the same time and each is able to stream their own media selection. The internal battery gives around 4 hours use and it can be charged via USB or a mains adaptor. Looks pretty cool too.

Buffalo MiniStation Air

Paul Hudson, Sales Director Northern Europe at Buffalo, said, “In 2011 the global smartphone and tablet market surpassed the PC market for the first time, with 448 million smartphone sales and tablet sales compared to 415 million PC sales. Despite this, there remains a very limited storage capacity for these devices compared to that for PCs. Users who want to watch movies or listen to music that is stored on their PC can now access it wirelessly on the go by syncing their mobile or tablet device up to the MiniStation Air.

Smartphone and tablet clients are available for both iOS and Android. Although I don’t have a MiniStation Air to hand, I downloaded the Android app and had a look. At first glance, the app seems a great deal better than some of Buffalo’s earlier efforts.

The Buffalo MiniStation Air will be on sale shortly in the UK for £119.99.

 

D-Link Shipping 1,750Mbps Router

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)