Buffalo AirStation N450 USB Adapter

The Buffalo AirStation N450 USB adapter (aka WLI-UC-G450) is a 2.4 GHz 11n wireless adapter capable of a theoretical 450 Mb/s using a 3×3 antenna array. Sweet.

Buffalo N450 USB adaptor

If you are used to small wireless adaptors and tiny memory sticks, then the N450 will be a bit of surprise. It’s a pretty chunky number at a little under 9.5 cm long, including the USB jack. The otherwise plain, but shiny, exterior has a single blue LED to advertise activity.

Buffalo N450 USB Adapter

Setting up the N450 was a doddle. Insert CD, follow the prompts, reboot, insert N450, job done. On my laptop, the adaptor appeared as Wireless Network Connection 2. In order to use the N450, I found that it was necessary to disable the internal wireless card otherwise it seemed to take priority over the N450. (On my laptop there’s a switch for that, otherwise right-click on the icon and choose Disable.)

Network Adapters

Initially, the laptop couldn’t see my 11n wireless network, but it could see a different 11g network. I’d had this problem before so I knew what was up. The 11n network uses channel 13 as the frequencies there are clear from interference in my neighbourhood, whereas I have the 11g network down on channel 1. Unfortunately, some Wi-fi devices only recognise channels 1-11 as these are the channels allowed in the US, and it appears that the N450 is one of them.

Once I’d pushed my 11n network down into channel 11, everything went swimmingly. Regrettably I wasn’t able to test out the full 450 Mb/s connection as my access point only supported 300 Mb/s, but it was pretty quick regardless. Even then you never get the full 300 Mb/s but I regularly saw data transfer figures around 80 Mb/s, which I think is about right. Your mileage may vary, of course, and you’d probably get over 100 Mb/s data transfers connecting at 450 Mb/s.

The high data transfer rates will make the N450 of interest to those wanting to stream HD movies over a LAN to a laptop for viewing, but the adaptor needs to be paired with a suitably fast router or access point to get the maximum speed.

Available on-line for around £30. Thanks to Buffalo for the loan of the adaptor.

Buffalo AirStation Nfiniti Router with DD-WRT

On review here is Buffalo’s AirStation Nfiniti HighPower dual band wireless-n router and access point with DD-WRT pre-installed, aka WZR-HP-AG300H. I’ve had the AirStation on loan from Buffalo for a couple of months and it’s really rather good.

Buffalo Nfiniti Router

As you can see from the pictures, it’s black and about 18 cm tall, excluding the antennae which swivel and tilt to give the best Wi-fi coverage. The unit can support two 300 Mb/s networks, one in the 2.4 GHz band, the other in the 5 GHz range.

Buffalo Nfiniti Router - rear

Round the back, there a four Gigabit Ethernet ports and as this a router, there’s the extra WAN port (the blue one) for connecting to an Ethernet modem (or hotel network port). There’s a single USB socket too that can used either by a storage device or by a 3G modem. In a nice touch, a USB extension lead is supplied, presumably to get the 3G modem positioned away from the high power antennas.

The supplied AirStation Navigator CD gets the AirStation router up-and-running with the minimum of fuss via a straightforward setup wizard. However, it’s largely superfluous as all the configuration of the AirStation can be done through the web interface. A handy tool on the CD that will find the AirStation on your network and provide the IP address. Once you’ve got that pasted into your web browser, you can access a whole plethora of settings.

DD-WRT Interface

Seriously, there are an awful lot of settings in here, from the usual IP setup through to setting up an advert supported Wi-Fi hotspot. I counted no less than 41 pages of settings and frankly, some of the stuff I had to look up to find out what it was about. Fortunately, you can leave the vast majority of the settings at their defaults and there is a setup assistant to start you off. All the usual features of a wireless router are here and then some. If you do find it all too intimidating, it is possible to flash the firmware back to more typical Buffalo wireless router software.

In use, the AirStation was fire-and-forget. I setup the router a few weeks before Christmas and since then I’ve only had power-cycle the device once, which in my experience is very good. Performance was also good with no problems streaming HD media from a network NAS and QoS settings can prioritise video and gaming traffic over other packets. I had a wide range of devices connected to the AirStation including laptops, Android smartphones, an HP TouchPad and a Nintendo Wii, with no lock-ups or unexpected drops apart from the one mentioned previously.

Using the Android app Wifi Analyzer, the AirStation’s range was a few metres better than my other 11n wireless access point, but whether that was attributable to the “HighPower” or the directional antennas is hard to tell. Perhaps it doesn’t matter as long as the extra distance is there.

Overall, this is an excellent wireless router that should be seriously considered by anyone who wants to tweak performance to the max.

The Buffalo AirStation Nfiniti Router is available from the usual retailers for around £80. Thanks to Buffalo for the loan of the WZR-HP-AG300H.

Loftek CSX 2200 Remote Wireless IP Camera

I recently started looking to purchase a remote IP camera that would allow me to remotely view my home via the Internet. There are quite a variety of remote IP cameras that offer a number of different viewing options at widely varying price points. After a bit of looking, I ended up purchasing a Loftek CSX 2200 wireless IP security camera via Amazon.Com based mostly on the large number of positive buyer reviews.

Among other features, the Loftek CSX 2200 offers VGA/QVGA/QQVGA resolutions, a built-in microphone, supports external audio, UPNP/port forwarding, 802.11 b/g WiFi, 270-degree horizonal pan, 120 deree vertical tilt, automatic motion detection and alarm, alarm notification via email or FTP server, infrared LED’s cover up to about 15 feet, and support for all major browsers.

The Loftek CSX 2200 offers a lot of features for the $67.99 price tag. The downside is that the small included quick start guide is printed in very small type and isn’t all that helpful.  A fair amount of networking knowledge is required in order to be able to get all of the features working properly. Simple Windows setup software is included, and even though once it is set up it will readily work with Apple and other non-Windows devices, Windows is required for initial setup. Initially it has to be plugged in directly to an Ethernet port so the included software can detect it. Once detected via Ethernet and into the browser setup screens, WiFi can be enabled. A more complete PDF manual can be downloaded from the Loftek website.

I was able to go into my ISP’s DSL router and enable port forwarding to port 1029 and get remote access to work from outside my home network. I was also able to get the automatic email alarm notification feature to work on motion detection. Motion detection sensitivity can be selected, but it seems to work good so far at the default setting. When motion is detected, it will automatically take a series of 6 photos and email all 6 photos to up to four pre-determined email addresses. One quirk I ran into is that when setting up an email account the email “test” feature won’t work even if all of the parameters are correctly set up until the configuration has been saved to the camera.

Since this camera is designed to work with it’s own infrared LED’s in complete darkness, the color balance can be a bit off in normal lighting conditions. I’m including two photos of the same scene, one with my compact florescent lights on and the other with the lights completely off.

 

Even though one of the Amazon.Com reviewers claimed he was able to get this camera to work with an iOS app designed to work with Foscam brand IP cameras, so far I’ve been unable to get any of the free iOS apps to work with the Loftek. On the other hand, I can easily access the camera directly in Safari both on my iPad and my iPod Touch using an Internet connection completely external to my home network DSL connection.

Overall I’m quite pleased with my purchase. The Loftek CXS 2200 offers a lot of value for the $67.99 price.

Diamond Wireless Range Extender and Set-Top Box Preview

Diamond Wireless Range Extender WR300NI remember building a PC many years ago and at that time, Diamond Multimedia was one of *the* graphics card companies. I even seem to remember that it was VL-bus card, so that dates it to a pre-Pentium era. Anyway, it’s great to see that Diamond is still around when so many others have fallen by the wayside. Todd interviews Louis Kokenis from Diamond Multimedia on the latest products.

The Diamond Wireless Range Extender has three functions in one. First, it’s a wireless repeater that eliminates deadspots in wireless coverage. Second, it’s a wireless bridge that will connect a wired network device to the wireless network and third, it’s a standalone wireless access point, creating wireless hotspot from a single network point. With regard to the last mode, the WR300N’s small size means that it’s great for travelling and creating a wireless network in a hotel room. On-sale now for around $60.

Diamond will be introducing an Android-based TV set-top box that combines web browser, media player, ebook reader, game console, anything that can be downloaded from the Android Market. It won’t be tied to any particular media provider as it will either be able to download an app, e.g. Netflix, or else it will be able to browse to any website and play media directly. Sounds cool, especially if it runs ICS.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Steve Lee of NetCast Studio for the TechPodcast Network.

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Canon Vixia Camcorders

Canon Vixia CamcordersThe Canon Vixia camcorders have been popular with consumers and Canon have upgraded the range with six new models. Jeffrey Powers has been a Vixia owner for some time and chats to Ben Thomas from Canon to learn more.

Some of the new models have built-in wi-fi allowing live streaming from the camera to iOS devices such as the iPad and iPhone. The footage can be captured by the free Movie Uploader app and, if desired, uploaded to Facebook and other video sharing websites.

There’s also new dynamic image stabilization technology that has four different stabilization modes that kick-in depending on the particular situation.

The Vixia camcorders normally record the AVCHD format but they can record direct to MP4 which is great for sharing on media players and mobile phones. The cameras take SDXC cards (up to 64GB) and have internal memory; the price determines exactly how much. Roughly, 32 GB will give 12 hours of 720p footage.

Prices start from $349 for R-series and $549 for the M-series.

Sorry we didn’t get to see Kellie Pickler. Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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Shogun Bros X-1 Chameleon Gamepad Mouse

Shogun Bros X-1 ChameleonShogun Bros X-1 Chameleon converts between a mouse, a game pad and a presentation controller at the flick of a switch. Sounds like a great idea but does it work in practice? Nick checks it out.

The Chameleon X-1 looks like any ordinary cordless optical mouse when placed on a desk, but flip it over and there’s an array of game-pad controls and buttons on the underside. The X-1 comes in a range of bright colors and the clever design won it a CES Design and Innovation Honoree award. It runs off a single AA battery, making the mouse lightweight, too.

For the gamers, there’s a product tie-in with Assassin’s Creed using customized versions to match in-game characters, including a leather covered mouse – don’t ask me which character this is supposed to be. These limited editions will be on-sale in about a month: the standard X-1 is on-sale now for around $60.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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Fulton Innovation Brings Wireless Charging Everywhere

Fulton Innovation was a founding member of the Wireless Power Consortium and were recently at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to show off their latest, no pun intended, innovations.  They are working to unify a standard for wireless charging of all of your devices from phones to tablets and more.  The standard is called Qi (pronounced “Chi”) and it will bring together all of the makers of your favorite mobile devices and allow them all to charge wirelessly in a standards-based way.  Users will be able to charge a smartphone simply by sitting it on a table, or in many other ways.

Fulton Innovation is looking at a lot more than just phones and tablets though.  They are looking at entering your kitchen with such things as wireless blenders that will charge right on your countertop, induction ranges, even charging your electric car by simply parking it in a particular space.

All of this futuristic sounding technology has been developed and was on display at CES.  Now Fulton Innovation is working with third-party manufacturers to get their technology built and out into the marketplace.  You can visit them online to find out more and you will definitely want to watch the video below.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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Zimri Speakers Brings Incredible Wireless Sound

zimri speakers logoZimri Speakers was recently at the Consumer Electronics Show to display their latest line of speakers.  They have a full range beginning with tiny bluetooth speakers that can be used with a laptop or even tablets and smartphones.  What sets their speakers apart is both battery life and the lack of distortion, even at the highest levels.

Moving up the line from the smallest speaker already mentioned, Zimri’s next entry is nearly identical, but has a slightly bigger body for better base and also an SD Card slot, allowing it to be a stand-alone music player.  Zimri also offers battery packs that can not only recharge your speaker, but also your mobile device.

You really have to watch the video below to get the full concept of Zimri Speakers.  The demo of the bluetooth range, especially in a crowded and noisy CES show filled with other  bluetooth devices, is absolutely amazing.  For more information you can visit Zimri Speakers.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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Altair Semiconductor Powers 4G and LTE

Altair Semiconductor logoThe Altair Semiconductor Company specialises in 4G and LTE wireless chipsets for the mobile telecoms industry. Andy and Courtney chat to the CEO of Altair to find out more more about the transition to the latest wireless standards.

4G, LTE and mobile broadband were all key technologies at CES this year, with products incorporating 4G announced from Motorola, Samsung, Nokia and LG, to name but a few. When compared to the relatively slow penetration of 3G, 4G uptake is happening much faster and it’s even surprising the industry. Verizon is expected to have most of the USA covered by the end of 2012. China and India are not far behind with major deployments.

Tablets and smartphones are driving the market but Altair’s chipsets are included in 4G dongles, MiFi-type units and wireless broadband routers.

Interview by Andy McCaskey  and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Vertix Raptor Helmet Communicator

Vertex Raptor II Helmet Communicator

Veteran biker, Andy “Hog” McCaskey, checks out Vertix‘s Raptor helmet communicator. Let’s roll!

Vertix Raptor-i is a Bluetooth-based helmet communication system that brings together phone, intercom, radio and music player functions into a single unit. It’s perfect for any activity where wearing a helmet is the norm including motorcycling, motorport and skiing.

A microphone and speaker are fitted inside the helmet and Raptor unit goes on the outside. The unit’s controls are designed to be operated with gloves on and a remote control will be available in a few month’s time. Noise-cancellation and auto-gain control to ensure that voices can be heard clearly even at speed.

For the intercom function, two Raptor units can be paired together so that rider and pillion can talk or two riding buddies can chat between bikes.

The MSRP for the Vertix Raptor-i is $160 and it’s available now.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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