Tag Archives: 3G

Wi-Ex zBoost Signal Boosters for Cell Phones



zBoost by Wi-Ex logo

zBoost by Wi-Ex is a range of signal extenders that will improve cell and mobile phone coverage in weak areas. Todd and Don discuss zBoost’s latest products from Sharon Cuppett, VP of Wi-Ex (and they get a mention on Wi-Ex’s blog)

Wi-Ex launched two new products at CES, the first being the zBoost 4G-V, a signal booster for 4G frequencies on Verizon, the largest mobile carrier with over 100 million subscribers. A whole 4G product line is under development, including dual- and tri-band boosters. Available in Q2 2012 for around $220.

The second is an in-car booster, the zBoost zForce, which comprises a cradle for the phone and a magnetised antenna for the outside of the vehicle. Powered from the cigarette adaptor, the zForce can boost coverage by about 10x, eliminating dead spots and increasing range in rural areas. Retailing at only $99, it will be available shortly.

(You’ll have to watch the Blue Microphone interview to realise this, but in this video Sharon borrows Don’s phone to demonstrate the zForce and then walks off with the phone at the end of the interview!)

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor, for the TechPodcast Network.

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LifeStation Web managed Pill box



From the CES 2012 floor, Jamie Davis from Promed Network talks with David from LifeStation about their new web enabled pill box for people on daily medications. The pill box had compartments for up to 4 doses a day and once full holds a week’s worth of pills. The pillbox doors flash when it’s time for that dose and if after a time, the door isn’t opened it starts beeping. If the person still doesn’t take their meds, it sends and email, text and automated phone call to the patient and their care giver. In tests, the pill box got a medication compliance of up to 92% (which is very good)

For more information go to medicationstation.com or lifestation.com

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Three Reports Jump In Data



Three LogoSqueezing among all the CES news, UK mobile telco Three reports a huge jump in smartphone data over the past year. On New Year’s Eve, smartphone traffic was up nearly 600% in the UK compared with the same evening a year before. On 31st December 2010, 14 TB of data was transmitted.  For the same date in 2011, it was 80 TB.

A similar pattern emerged on New Year’s day, with 74 TB in 2012, compared with 14 TB in 2011. Facebook seems to have become the place for New Year’s wishes with a 20% rise in traffic between midnight and 1am.

I sometimes think people should look up from their phones a bit more often. Now I know I’m right!


Price of Chromebook Drops. Will You Buy it Now?



Chromebook Display at Google Places Event
Chromebook Display at Google Places Event

Google announced they are dropping the price of the Chromebook by 30%. Some Chromebooks will be as low as $299. But questions still arise if a Chromebook is in your holiday wish list, when you can get a Kindle Fire, nook Color for less. Even the iPad could be in more stockings than the ultra-portable laptop.

Chromebook came out back in June as Google’s answer to a PC that didn’t have a complicated OS to it. You would load the Chromebook up to a Chrome browser; inside, all your applications would be in the cloud and the data you create would also mostly reside in a cloud drive. However, if you were in a 3G deadspot or didn’t have Wifi, then your work would be rather limited.

Competing with a Tablet

Chromebook’s price drop is pretty much an attempt to counter the prices of the Kindle Fire and nook color tablets, which debuted to the general public last week at $199 and $249 respectively. The tablet – which you could connect a bluetooth keyboard and mouse – could technically become a more functional notebook than a Chromebook itself. And with prices at $100 lower than the device,  will a Samsung or Acer Chromebook even be in your holiday purchase radar?

What is Chromebook’s Market?

Google Chair at SF Airport
Google Chair at SF Airport

Chromebook has to figure out where their niche is going to be. Maybe as a laptop for the kids, or a machine you can keep in the kitchen to call up recipes or as a kiosk in a public place? Back in September, I saw the Chromebook lounge in the San Francisco Airport. Those kiosks would be great for people that have hours to wait but don’t have a computer to check their Facebook profiles or email on.

Remember when the Netbook was a popular item two years ago? What happened to that? The answer is the netbook disappeared fast. You can still get a netbook, but just like the Chromebook, why should you spend $300 or more for a device that is the same speed and power as a Kindle Fire or nook Color?

So now we can start to see the impact of these two new tablets are bringing to the holiday shopping season. Chromebook has to compete with something more compact and useable. Google has not released any data regarding Chromebooks sold, but a DigiTimes report (premium content site) says it all:

“In June 2011, Acer and Samsung launched their Chromebooks ahead of other PC brand vendors, but by the end of July, Acer had reportedly only sold 5,000 units and Samsung was said to have had even lower sales than Acer, according to sources from the PC industry.”

What does that mean to Chromebook? Simply: It’s time to drop prices and hope the Chromebook will sell well in Q4.


Cox Leaving Wireless Business on March 30, 2012



Cox Logo
Cox Logo

A confidential document got leaked out stating the Cox cable has decided to get out of the wireless business. Within 24 hours, Cox officially stated this was true – on March 30th, 2012, Cox will end their wireless service.

Back in 2008, Cox bought part of the 700 MHz spectrum to start Cox Wireless. Last year they launched the service, however, the plan didn’t pan out. Maybe part of it was because Stephen Bye left in March (he headed the wireless division).

“Cox is working to make this transition as seamless and easy as possible for our customers,” said Len Barlik, executive vice president of product development and management.  “We are proud of our employees’ dedication to delivering the excellent customer service that Cox is known for, and we will continue to keep our wireless customers’ satisfaction a top priority during this transition period.”

This affects customers in the  Hampton Roads, Roanoke and Northern Virginia; Orange County, San Diego and Santa Barbara, Calif.; Omaha, Nebraska; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; and Rhode Island and Cox communities we serve in Connecticut and Cleveland, Ohio. This only affects wireless and 3G services. Cox will be giving a $150 credit to those who had the multi-service.

 

 


GNC-2011-10-24 #716 Back to Basics



Back to basics on this show and, I tighten up the timeline. Lots of tech as always and a huge number of comments have come in pre-show… Today I try pulling unique articles from Google+. Hope you like the new sources.

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Edimax 3G-6200n 3G Wireless Router



Taiwanese Edimax has been making steady inroads at the cheaper end of the market with a range of products which typically undercut the market leaders on price. As with its Chinese sibling TP-Link, I’ve always been a bit wary of their products but recently I had the opportunity to try out the Edimax 3G-6200n, a 3G 11n wireless router and I was pleasantly surprised by the build standard and the features on offer.

To start with, the 3G-6200n cost £40 from Amazon. For comparison, the equivalent Netgear (MBRN3000) costs about twice as much. The Edimax device is quite an old device released in mid-2009 so the 11n is only of the 150 Mb/s variety and the LAN ports are only 100 Mb/s. The Netgear’s 11n runs to 300 Mb/s but still only has 100 Mb/s LAN ports. If you are only routing internet traffic, 150 Mb/s is going to be perfectly adequate.

On opening the box, there was the router itself, a PSU that usefully has an on/off switch, a short USB lead, various manuals and a CD. The router itself is plastic but it’s not really plasticky, if you follow. I’ve had Belkin devices that were worse. Interestingly, there’s a switch on the back that turns off the wifi – that’s not something I’d ever seen before.

Getting the basic router up and running was straightforward. Turn it on, plug one end of a network cable into a LAN port and connect the other to a PC or laptop.  Open a web browser with and login into the router using the provided username and password.

As with all routers, there’s a plethora of sections to go through and configure – basic setup, WAN, LAN, wireless and so on. I’d say the device was well featured without being advanced. For example, the wifi only allows you to setup one SSID and there was no auto setting on the channels, but port forwarding and virtual servers are there too. After I’d set up the wifi, I was able to disconnect the cable and work wirelessly.

As you might guess, the main reason for getting this router was for its 3G functionality. Round the back of the router is a USB port into which a 3G modem dongle can be plugged in. Once connected, the router can share the 3G connection wirelessly. Helpfully, there’s a short USB cable included that can be used to position the dongle for the best reception.

How is this different from a “Mifi” or similar device? First, the Edimax is not battery powered, secondly it has LAN ports and finally it doesn’t have to use 3G all the time. It can be configured to use a DSL or cable modem normally and only fall back to the 3G modem when the modem connections fails.

In this instance I was only interested in a 3G connection. Unfortunately, you can’t plug any old 3G dongle into the 3G-6200n but Edimax provides a compatibility list (zipped pdf). I was using an Huawei E1550 which was listed as being supported and sure enough, it was.  To get the connection to work, I had to configure the APN, username and password for the mobile provider that I was using within the router’s web interface. These details are easily available from the internet via a Google search or the mobile providers website.

I was able to connect using both Three and Vodafone SIMs in the Huawei E1550. Download speeds were usually over 1 Mb/s and less than 2 Mb/s but it varied a good deal depending on how the dongle was positioned. I noticed that the router started and stopped the 3G connection as required so it wasn’t constantly connected. One minor issue with that was that sometimes an initial request for a web page was met with a timeout as the connection hadn’t been made fast enough. Upon refreshing the page, it would be served successfully. This only happened a couple of times and I suspect the problem is more with the mobile phone network being slow to respond than the router.

Overall, I was impressed by the Edimax 3G-6200n and at £40 I think it’s excellent value. If you do need to share a 3G connection, particularly when you need both wired and wireless connections, then this is a good solution. The only downside is that it’s not a portable solution. And finally, remember to check that your 3G dongle is compatible.