Category: Network Management

Wi-Fi now the expected feature for digital cameras and camcorders

Wi-Fi as a feature for digital cameras and camcordersRecently, I have been going through news articles about the digital cameras that are being launched or premiered this year and most of them are offering a common feature. What is this feature?

It is Wi-Fi wireless-network connectivity which allows you to link your smartphone or tablet with your camera using the same technology that is used to link these devices to your home network and the Internet when you are at home.

One of the key advantages that Wi-Fi wireless connectivity offers is that it offers a wider bandwidth than Bluetooth which would earn its keep with transferring the high-resolution RAW or JPEG pictures to your computer or mobile device.

Camera set up as access point

The camera serves as an access point for the smartphone or tablet

The typical situation is that you have to install software on your smartphone, tablet or computer that is written by the camera’s manufacturer to take advantage of this feature. This software would allow you to transfer photos and video from your camera to your computing device or have the computing device’s screen work as a viewfinder for the camera. In a lot of cases, it could serve as a remote control for your camera such as to be able to trip the shutter remotely. If the computing device is a smartphone or tablet, you may have the ability to geotag the shots you took using your camera with the smartphone’s GPS sensor providing the information. As well. some Panasonic camcorders use this software to create a multiple-camera setup using your smartphone’s camera along with the camcorder’s own camera function.

Using your smartphone's wireless-tethering feature as an access point

Using your smartphone’s wireless tethering feature as an access point

As I have highlighted before, Ricoh uses an integrated Web page rather than a client-side app for their GR II digital camera when it comes to remote control. This would appeal to those of us who use regular computers or Windows smartphones as partner devices for our cameras.

In some situations, the camera may offer an “on-ramp” to a manufacturer-hosted Web gateway which allows you to upload and share the pictures using the Web. As well, some of these Web gateways may offer a further “on-ramp” to social-network, image-sharing or file-exchange services that you have accounts with so you can take advantage of these services.

Using an existing network

Your Wi-Fi-capable camera as part of an existing home network

But how can these cameras work with Wi-Fi? Most of these cameras can be their own access point, typically serving one device like a smartphone or laptop. But they also have the ability to connect to an existing access point. This can be of benefit when you use a phone with Wi-Fi-based tethering, a “Mi-Fi” router or your existing home or small-business network.

How to get the most out of this technology

Interlinking with your smartphone

Facebook and Dropbox desktop

Facebook and Dropbox can benefit here

If you use your smartphone or tablet to post pictures on Facebook, Instagram and the like, you can take the pictures you want to post using your Wi-Fi-capable camera rather than the smartphone’s rear-facing camera and these pictures could impress people more. This is because the good digital cameras implement optics that are better than what would be integrated in a smartphone’s integrated camera.

Instagram Android screenshot

… as can Instagram

Similarly, when you take those holiday pictures, you can take advantage of your smartphone’s GPS to geotag the pictures and use them as part of an interactive map that a social network may offer.

Here, you use the camera for most of the photography while your smartphone’s camera can work as a fallback if your application calls for something small and light and you don’t care about the quality. Similarly, your smartphone’s camera would earn its keep with video-conferencing.

The best network setup for the job

The Wi-FI feature along with the “remote-control” functionality will come in to its own when you dig out that tripod. Here, you could be able to interact with the subject yet keep tabs on how it will look in the viewfinder and how the exposure will come off using your smartphone.

An existing network served by a powerful router could earn its keep here if you need to be further away from the camera such as filming a presentation or interacting with a subject. If you are “out and about”, a Mi-Fi could serve this role easily because of it working as an access point on its own battery rather than you finding that the battery is being depleted very quickly during a long shoot.

What needs to be done

DLNA integration

Once you have NAS units, especially mobile NAS units being equipped with the Upload and Download functionaliy for their DLNA MediaServer functionality, these cameras would have to support DLNA MediaUploader functionality to allow you to deliver the pictures you took on to these devices.  Similarly the idea of “throwing” images and footage you just took to a DLNA-capable smart TV via your home network would need to be investigated as a feature for these cameras.

Here, this could be approached through identifying standards and specifications that apply to the photography and videography ecosystem. As well, this concept could be taken further to allow different software to gain access to the camera’s sensor or controls for different applications.

Wi-FI Passpoint support

Another area that may need to be worked on for these digital cameras and camcorders is support for WI-Fi Passpoint. This allows for a simplified yet secure login experience when you use these cameras with a public-access Wi-Fi hotspot like what your favourite hotel or café provides. Here, you are not dealing with a login Webpage which would be difficult, if not impossible, to use with a digital camera because of the absence of a Web browser and reliance on “pick-and-choose” data entry.

The concept of a “trusted device cluster” could be looked at in the context of Wi-Fi Passpoint so you can provide a surefire “local-network-link” between two or more devices that are using a public-access network. Here, it would earn its keep when you are controlling your tripod-mounted camera from your smartphone during a presentation or downloading those pictures to your Ultrabook or tablet while you are in your hotel room.

Wi-Fi as another path to control lighting and other peripherals

Serious hobbyists and professionals will be dealing with advanced lighting setups in order to get the best out of their photographs and footage. This may involve continuous-light devices like video and photo lights along with flash-based devices like Speedlites or studio flash units. LEDs are also making it more feasible to vary the lighting colour of a particular lamp at an instant.

Here, Wi-Fi along with some of the “Internet Of Things” proposals being put forward by the UPnP Forum and AllSeen Alliance could open up the ability to use your smartphone or camera as a control surface for your lighting setup. This would also include being able to trigger flash units manually or in sync with the shutter.

For video applications, Wi-FI technology could also earn its keep with picture-sound synchronisation by working as a “common path” to transmit SMPTE synchronisation data between audio recorders and video camcorders. This could allow for “best-quality” sound recording and multiple-camera setups with devices having their own recording transports.

Conclusion

What I see of this year’s trend for cameras and camcorders to have Wi-Fi wireless network abilities is something that will make them increasingly capable.

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Sky Broadband rolls out an IPv6 firmware update

Article IPv6 logo courtesy of World IPv6 Launch program

UK ISP Sky Broadband Push Router Firmware Update with IPv6 Support | ISPReview.co.uk

My Comments

Another of the main broadband providers in the UK is getting ready to “go” IPv6.

This time, it is Sky Broadband and their first step towards widespread deployment is to roll out a firmware update to their SkyHub SR101 and SR102 modem routers which are the latest modem routers they are offering for their consumer-facing Internet service. Most likely, this may be a “blind update” where customers don’t need to do anything to facilitate the update being put in place.

Like all other ISPs, Sky is running out of its stockpile of IPv4 IP addresses which will make life increasingly difficult when it comes to provisioning Internet service to newer customers. This is a similar analogy either with phone numbers as people and businesses sign up for standard telephony services or add functionality to their existing telephony services, or with motor vehicle registration numbers (license-plate numbers) in a jurisdiction as people register new vehicles or move and garage their vehicles into that jurisdiction. It may involve passing IPv4 public IP addresses around multiple customers or having to bite the bullet and go IPv6.

The main questions that could be raised with this deployment is whether it will primarily be a dual-stack deployment and also whether routing between IPv6 and IPv4 addresses will take place within the router or host equipment at Sky’s backend.

For Internet service providers and Internet content hosts that serve consumers and small businesses, the reality of having to go IPv6 will be coming upon them all and they will have to factor this in soon. This will also have to apply to any “carrier-supplied” customer-premises equipment which will have to support IPv6 either out-of-the-box or after a firmware update.

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What is MU-MIMO and how does it benefit your Wi-Fi network

Article

Linksys EA8500 broadband router press picture courtesy of Linksys USA

Linksys EA8500 broadband router – One of the first MU-MIMO capable wireless routers

Why You’ll Want MU-MIMO | SmallNetBuilder

My Comments

A feature that is appearing at the top-end of manufacturers’ wireless router and access-point lineups, but will trickle down to more modest offerings including ISP-offered equipment is MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output).

This answers a situation faced with home, business and public Wi-Fi networks where individual users’ bandwidth is reduced because there are more Wi-Fi client devices using these segments.

It effectively provides an effective total throughput improvement where there is at least one MU-MIMO Wi-Fi client device on the wireless network. The trick used here is to use “beamforming”, which is effectively steering radio waves between radio endpoints, to achieve simultaneous AP-client data transfer for up to three client devices.

It is effectively like what an Ethernet switch does for an Ethernet network where it allocates the maximum bandwidth to the network client rather than sharing that bandwidth amongst a group of devices.

Previously, if you had a three-stream access point or router with 3 antennas, a third of the total bandwidth would be offered to the single-stream devices. These devices would also limit the bandwidth offered by the access point for that Wi-Fi segment and share that amongst the other devices. But a MU-MIMO setup would send the needed bandwidth to each device simultaneously, creating a “fat Wi-Fi pipe” for each device.

It also answers a reality where a Wi-Fi network would be serving plenty of legacy devices based on 802.11a/b/g/n or 802.11ac SU-MIMO technology along with the newer MU-MIMO devices. Here, the remaining Wi-Fi bandwidth would be freed up for the legacy devices to share while each MU-MIMO device has its own bandwidth.

But to see some real throughput benefit from a MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless network segment, you would need to be using an 802.11ac MU-MIMO client device on that segment. This would appear as devices are upgraded to newer models that have this feature.

A good question to raise with MU-MIMO would be whether clients and access points still benefit from multiple-access-point setups that are used to increase coverage and whether these setups also increase network capacity.

Other than that, it is the sign of things to come for the Wi-Fi wireless-network segment where they will benefit from increased throughput.

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Pay-TV providers are pushing for integrating access-point functionality in to consumer-electronics devices

Article

Time for Pay TV industry to get serious about Wi-Fi | VideoNet

My Comments

LG's 4K OLED curved TV press picture courtesy of LG America

Could a smart TV like one of these be an access point for your lounge area?

Previously I have raised the idea of having integrated Wi-Fi access point functionality in consumer electronics devices as a way to provide infill coverage for your wireless network. This is due to an increasing number of network-capable consumer-electronics devices like printers, set-top boxes, smart TVs and the like having network functionality in the form of both an Ethernet socket and integrated Wi-Fi wireless networking.

Some of these devices actually repurpose the Wi-Fi network functionality as an access point during their setup routine so you can supply your home network’s Wi-Fi credentials from a smartphone or tablet for subsequent wireless-network operation. But I was drawing attention to situations like a Wi-Fi-capable smart TV installed in the secondary lounge down the back of the house where there isn’t the good Wi-FI coverage and this TV is connected to the home network via a HomePlug AV500 powerline segment, or a premium desktop printer with Wi-Fi and Ethernet used in the garage that serves as the home office and. again, is linked to the home network via a HomePlug AV2 powerline segment.

There was some attention in the TV-technology scene when AirTies put forward their Air 4920 802.11ac concurrent-dual-band wireless-network repeater which was considered capable of pushing out 4K UHDTV data streams reliably. It led to the device winning the Connected TV Award for the Best Consumer Device.  This was due to it also supporting Wi-Fi Mesh functionality which uses a mesh setup in a Wi-FI network.

But TV Connect also showed interest in a 4K set-top box which also implemented the Wi-Fi Mesh technology for receiving the data but having an integrated wireless access point. It was also targeted with the point of view of a broadband provider who provides a multi-play service that includes pay-TV being able to troubleshoot and service the Wi-FI connectivity if the connection is below par.

Of course, wired backbones are used by pay-TV providers to link set-top boxes to the home network typically to provide IPTV services, download video-on-demand content or stream content from a DVR to another set-top device servicing the bedroom TV. Typically this is facilitated using a “no-new-wires” technology like HomePlug AV powerline or MoCA  coaxial-cable which links back to the home network’s router. Why hasn’t the integrated access point functionality been investigated in these setups?

The concept can be easily implemented in to most of these devices using WPS-assisted “network-clone” functionality and automatic tuning for a simplified setup experience. As well, the ability to detect a wired-backbone connection can be used to determine whether to set up the integrated Wi-Fi functionality as a n access point, a standalone Wi-Fi network like a guest network or not run it at all.

At least those in the pay-TV scene are waking up to the idea that an access point which is part of Wi-Fi network infrastructure doesn’t have to be part of a dedicated network-infrastructure device. Instead it can be part of a device that makes use of the network.

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Preferring highest-throughput on your dual-band Wi-Fi setup

Article

Specify 2.4 or 5 GHz WiFi bands on Surface Pro 3 | Barb’s Connected World (blog)

My Comments

A problem that Barb Bowman had highlighted in her blog was that the Surface Pro 3 was preferring to connect to her Wi-Fi home network on the 2.4GHz band rather than the 5GHz (802.11ac) band that it was capable of. This may be a problem with a lot of dual-band 802.11n/ac devices.

Here, she had ran the same SSID and security parameters for both the bands on her network and the Surface preferred the 2.4GHz band. To work around this, Barb had used the Device Manager to force her Surface Pro 3 to stay on the 5GHz 802.11ac band. With this 2-in-1’s network adaptor, there was an “Advanced” option to lock on 2.4GHz or 5Ghz or simply switch between the bands. The problem would become worse when she took the Surface on the road because of having to head to the Device Manager to set these parameters.

Another way to work around this is to run separate SSIDs for each band, having the 2.4GHz and 5Ghz networks work as separate segments. Here, the network could be set up as MY-NETWORK for the 2.4GHz band and MY-NETWORK-54 for the 5GHz band. Most simultaneous-dual-band access points and routers allow you to set this up and your can prefer to connect to a particular band using your device’s network-selection function. If you wanted to allow automatic switching, you then just set both SSIDs up on your device for automatic connection.

On the other hand, it could be feasible for operating systems to have support for “preferred” bands or operating modes for wireless networks in a similar way to how you can determine in Windows whether a network is a public, home or workplace network and adjust its sharing behaviour according. This kind of manual override could allow a device to prefer the 5GHz band for better performance but fall to the 2.4GHz band if this band works better. 

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Consumer Electronics Show 2015 – Part 4 – The Home Network

Over the past three days, I have covered some very interesting trends that were exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 in Las Vegas. Part 1 covered the changes concerning personal computing including smartphones and tablets whereas Part 2 covered the increasingly-connected lifestyle which is brought on by the Internet Of Things. Part 3 has covered home entertainment especially as 4K UHDTV, wireless multroom audio and high-resolution file-based audio via the home network approach points of market maturity.

Now I am covering computer peripherals including USB 3.1 with the Type C either-way connection along with the “glue that holds it all together” – the home network. This is brought on with the arrival of Wave 2 802.11ac (AC2600 and AC3200) wireless networks and the highly-resilient HomePlug AV2 MIMO powerline network technology.

Computer Peripherals

A major innovation that is taking place with computer peripherals and accessories is the implementation of USB 3.1 with Type C connectors, something I have covered regularly on this site. Here, it is living up to the promise of high throughput with setups clocking a real-world throughput of 800Mbps on a demonstrator. Nokia’s N1 tablet is the first tablet device to be marketed with USB 3.1 technology and Type C connectivity. MSI are pitching the G772 gaming notebook and X998 Gaming 9 ACK motherboard with the USB 3.1 and Type C connectivity along with regular USB connectivity and they are intended to be available in March. Creative Technologies have not taken computer audio lying down. Rather they fielded a USB digital amplifier in the form of the X7 which you can connect to some decent speakers. It uses Sound Blaster chipsets for the computer interface and has enough connectivity to amplify line-level or digital sound sources or provide the Sound Blaster goodness to other amplifiers, digital recorders or digital-analogue converters. It also has on-board Dolby Digital decoding along with enhanced sound processing to get the best out of anything from compressed MP3s to high-grade FLAC files.

As for displays, most of the monitor manufacturers are running at least a few 4K ultra-high-resolution models. HP are running an new monitor lineup including some 4K models and even a 5K model. Two of these monitors have curved displays like the TVs shown at this show while there is a “virtual-reality”display that works with 3D glasses. Samsung joined the party by premiering 34” curved monitor with 21:9 aspect ratio and WQHD+ (3440×1440) resolution – their TV-display knowledge fits in here on the desktop.

There is a huge run of Bluetooth-capable audio devices at this show. Braven have premiered the Braven Bridge portable conference-call device. This uses a microphone array and noise-cancelling technology for clearer and understandable voices and can even come clear in loud environments. It has that deluxe leather look that appeals to travelling executives and can serve as a powerful Bluetooth speaker and mobile charge bank.

They also fielded a series of deluxe-look Bluetooth speakers with TruWireless stereo pairing. These are known as the 2200b and the 2300b with the latter having improved sound output. Braven also pitched a wireless audio mixer that mixes the sound from two Bluetooth A2DP sources and distributes it to two Bluetooth speakers.

Samsung cracked the storage capacity ceiling for solid-state storage by offering a 1 Tb external solid-state storage device that connects to the host via USB 3.0. Ultra fast, Ultra large! SanDisk had come to the party by offering a “memory-key-type” external storage device that connects to “open-frame” smartphones via their microSD card slots or a regular computer (or other device) via its USB 3.0 socket. These are available at capacities up to 64Gb.

The very fast no-new-wires home network

D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 6 stream wireless router press picture courtesy of D-Link America

D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 6 stream wireless router – an example of what Wave 2 802.11ac is all about

One major technology that is being premiered at CES 2015 is the 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless segment, especially the faster variants that implement at least three input and output streams and use MU-MIMO technology. This has a theoretical media-level throughput of 2.6 Gbps or 3.2 Gbps. This technology has been “cemented” courtesy of IEEE releasing the Wave 2 set of specifications for the 802.11ac wireless network along with Qualcomm, Quantenna and Broadcomm releasing the chipsets for this specification.

MU-MIMO is a high-throughput variant of MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) wireless technology that can allow an access point to concurrently serve data to multiple client devices with best-case performance and reduced network congestion. The benefits that this provides also extend to non-MU-MIMO client devices because the higher-throughput devices aren’t taking up the lion’s share of the traffic.

It was also run alongside the Wi-Fi Aware proximity-based service discovery mechanism for the Wi-FI wireless network standard which is to come later this year. Working in the background, this setup allows a device to discover other Wi-Fi devices and what they offer before actually connecting to them. It is being pitched to be like what Bluetooth was known for where you could spontaneously discover a person to share a namecard or picture with in the same room or set up a multi-machine multi-player game with friends on the couch. It also would serve a similar function to the Bluetooth Beacons and orthodox Bluetooth “push” advertising as a way to reach mobile users..

All of the major home-network hardware vendors are releasing at least one premium-level router with this technology. This has also pushed down the availability of AC1750 and lower-spec 802.11ac routers to prices that most of us can afford and allow carriers to supply such gear to their customers.

D-Link DHP701AV HomePlug AV2 MIMO adaptor press picture courtesy of D-Link America

D-Link DHP701AV HomePlug AV2 MIMO adaptor

As for HomePlug AV2 powerline networking, each of the major home-network companies is releasing a HomePlug AV2 MIMO-capable adaptor package that allows you to start setting up a robust powerline network segment with a theoretical throughput of around 1.5 Gigabits per second. It gives legs to this “wired now-new-wires” technology when being used in commercial premises or multi-building home networks.

Amped Wireless have released their 802.11ac range with AC750-compliant routers and range extenders that use touch-screens as their control surfaces. Sadly, these are their low-tier models for this specification. They are also running more 802.11ac range extenders with two desktop models having a Gigabit Ethernet switch to make them work as wireless client bridges for many devices along with two wall-plugged models that have a Gigabit Ethernet port for wireless-client-bridge functionality. In each form-factor, there is a two-stream variant along with a three-stream variant.

Linksys launched their fastest 802.11ac home-network router which uses four streams with MU-MIMO(AC2600) and has Snapdragon horsepower, a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch and USB and eSATA sockets to allow it to serve as a NAS. They also released the “AC1200” variant of their WRT1900AC “son of WRT54G” router along with the styled-alike WRT Network Storage Bay which is a dual-bay NAS enclosure with eSATA and USB external-disk connectivity. Oh year, it has DLNA network media server functionality.

D-Link have shown off their out-of-this-world 8-antenna MU-MIMO AC2600 router and also launched the AC1900 USB wireless network adaptor. This is so you can gain the benefits of a Wi-Fi wireless segment running to the latest 802.11ac wireless specification with your existing laptops or desktop computers. They have launched their HomePlug AV2 MIMO adaptor (DHP701AV) and HomePlug AV2 SISO adaptor (DHP601AV), both having Gigabit Ethernet connections.

TRENDNet TPL-421E2K HomePlug AV2 MIMO adaptor (US variant) with AC socket plugged in to typical US AC outlet - press picture courtesy of TRENDNet USA

TRENDNet TPL-421E2K HomePlug AV2 MIMO adaptor (US variant) with AC socket

TRENDNet are also running one of the first “travel routers” to have 802.11ac technology. This unit implements AC750 single-stream technology along with the ability to be a USB file server as well as having Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. They also launched an AC3200 “tri-band” (all 5GHz band and 2.4GHz band) six-stream router with six antennas along with their AC2600 four-stream router, both having Gigabit Ethernet for WAN and LAN, USB file serving and IPv6.They haven’t forgotten about the HomePlug AV2 MIMO powerline network and are re-exhibiting their HomePlug AV2 adaptors and exhibiting a variant with an integrated power outlet.

TP-Link launched their Archer 2600 router with 4 x 4 AC Qualcomm Wi-Fi and Archer C3200 with 2 3-stream 5GHz front-ends and 1 3-stream 2.4GHz front-end and Broadcomm chipset. They also have launched a 3-stream AC1750 range extender and an AC750 range extender. As well they have contributed HomePlug AV2 MIMO adaptor which is the first of this product class to have a 3-port Gigabit Ethernet switch

Netgear have launched a lineup of range extenders including an AC1900 model, AC1200 model, AC750 model. These devices can use one band for their wireless backhaul while the other serves the downstream devices and can be set up to be access points with Ethernet (or HomePlug AV2 MIMO) wired backbones. They are the  EX7000 which is the AC1900 3 stream variant with a 5 port Gigabit Ethernet switch and a USB 3.0 file server, along with the EX6150 which is a 2-stream AC1200 wall plug that has a Gigabit Ethernet connection, and the EX3700 Essentials Edition which is a 1-stream AC750 wall plug.

NetGear GS108E 8-port Gigabit Ethernet "Click" swithch with power supply bracket press picture courtesy of NETGEAR America

NetGear GS108E 8-port Gigabit Ethernet “Click” swithch with power supply bracket

They also launched their PL1200 HomePlug AV2 MIMO adaptors – the PL1200 and the PLP1200 which has an integrated AC outlet. Let’s not forget their value-priced unmanaged desktop Ethernet switches which Netgear have been well known for and is something I would specify, and they have shown up with a new device in this class. Here, they have launched a pair of these Gigabit switches which dock in to a power-supply bracket thus eliminating the need to use a wall-wart that falls out too easily. They have a 16-port variant along with an 8-port variant which comes with two USB gadget-charging ports.

NETGEAR ReadyNAS RN1040 NAS press picture courtesy of NETGEAR America

Latest generation of the Netgear ReadyNAS family

Netgear also launched the latest iteration of their ReadyNAS multi-function NAS units as the 100 and 200 Series ReadyNAS series. The 2-bay and 4-bay NAS units have improved processors for quicker throughput along with using ReadyNAS OS 8.2 as their operating system.

Around Town launched a 4G LTE 802.11g/n Mi-Fi router with a “boosting cradle”. This is a charging dock that has an Ethernet LAN socket, and 2 better MIMO antennas for 4G. This reminds me of some consumer-electronics devices released through the early 1980s like a portable VHS video cassette recorder setup that Hitachi implemented where the video recorder docked in to a large L-shaped tuner-timer base which had a full-function infra-red remote control, or some “ghetto-blaster” setups that had a tape unit that could be removed to become a Walkman.

The NAS is being seen by some vendors as being a “personal cloud”. But some of these vendors are taking an integrated approach with interlinking with existing online storage services like Dropbox along with acceptiance of the new BitTorrent Sync technology. This is being pushed more so by Seagate with their home NAS units.

QNAP had launched some AMD Steppe Eagle x86 powered NAS units which came in 4 bay, 6 bay and 8 bay variants. They had 4 gigabit Ethernet connections for throughput-bonding or serving multiple networks, a 10 Gigablt Ethernet upgrade option for small businesses and ran QTS 4.2 OS. This operating system provided various “connected-home” functions along with various business-focused snapshot backup options.

Conclusion

What I have seen of the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 is that certain technologies like 4K UHDTV, HomePlug AV2 MIMO, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and lightweight highly-capable personal computing have hit points of maturity in the marketplace or are close to achieving that goal.

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Devolo marries the latest HomePlug and Wi-FI standards in an access point

Article

Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac (Continental Europe (Schuko) variant) in action - press image courtesy of Devolo

Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac (Continental Europe (Schuko) variant) in action

devolo détaille son dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac | EreNumérique (France – French language | Langue Française)

From the horse’s mouth

Devolo,

dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac

Product Page (German Language – Deutsche Sprache / English language)

Press Release ( German Language – Deutsche Sprache / English language)

My Comments

Devolo, a German network-hardware manufacturer, has done the most incredible act with their support for HomePlug technologies.

Here, they have released in to the European market a simultaneous dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi access point which can work with HomePlug AV2 MIMO powerline network segments. Here, these use the three AC wires to achieve a media-level power-line network speed of 1.2Gbps for the powerline backbone. This is in addition to using the three wires to create a highly robust HomePlug AV2 segment that could work in difficult environments like commercial premises where there are motors that can create a lot of electrical interference.

Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac access point - Continental (Schuko) variant - press picture courtesy of Devolo

Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac access point

For the wireless segment, you have a single stream for the 5GHz band which goes to 866Mbps and two streams on the common 2.4GHz band which goes to 300Mbps. There are two Gigabit Ethernet sockets which come in handy with a lot of sessile devices like Smart TVs, desktop computers as in those “gaming rigs” and printers.

These access points come with an integrated “pass-through” power outlet which means that you don’t have to forfeit a power outlet so you can use HomePlug AV2.

Lets not forget that the Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac supports WPS clone which is a simplified method to set up a multiple-access-point home network. Here, you press the “setup” button on the access point then the WPS button on the router or access point you are extending for it to learn the ESSID and security parameters of that access point so you quickly have it work as that extension access point.

Devolo have answered a need to allow users to quickly extend Wi-Fi coverage out to outbuildings, charming old caravans serving as extra living space and the like or answer Wi-Fi coverage difficulties yet be able to work with the latest HomePlug and Wi-Fi technologies. Try this device with handling Wi-Fi issues with that mas en Provence or other stone-built European building.

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What is an ideal home network?

Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

A wireless router that is part of a full broadband service

A home network needs to support both a wired and wireless local-area-network path for many different reaons. If you just use a wireless-only home network, you are exposing everything to the vagaries of the radio technology that the wireless network is all about such as interference to or obstruction of these radio signals. As well, a lot of sessile devices like desktop computers have the antenna and radio circuitry for the wireless network functionality located towards the back of the equipment and this can cause interference for equipment that uses a metal chassis.

It would be ideal to implement an Ethernet + wireless setup with a Wi-Fi network of at least 802.11n dual-band multi-stream specification providing the wireless coverage and Gigabit Ethernet wiring pulled through the house to all of the rooms. But a lot of factors can get in the way of this ideal such as the cost to pull Cat5 Ethernet wiring through an existing house or factor in Cat5 Ethernet wiring to each room in a new building.

On the other hand, I would head for a wireless + HomePlug powerline setup or one covering wireless, Cat5 Ethernet and HomePlug. Here, I would use at least 802.11n dual-band multi-stream technology for the Wi-Fi wireless segment and at least HomePlug AV500 for the HomePlug powerline segment. Using all three paths, where I include Gigabit Ethernet to some rooms like one or two of the main living areas, the office / den area and one or two bedrooms along with the other two technologies. This could create a home network that covers the house on what would be effectively a “beer budget”.

Devolo dLAN 1200+ HomePlug AV2 MIMO adaptor press picture courtesy of Devolo

Let’s not forget HomePlug as a network connectivity tool (European setup)

In some environments like a multiple-building setup or a network in a commercial building or apartment block, I would consider implementing HomePlug AV2 MIMO technology to assure reliable operation.

Why a wired and wireless network setup?

A wireless link provided by the Wi-Fi segment is to primarily serve the mobile and portable devices that are intended to be located on a whim. Whereas a wired link provided by Ethernet and/or HomePlug AV is to serve the devices that are normally fixed by providing reliable network connectivity to these devices.

Another advantage is to set up an extra wireless access point to increase your wireless network’s coverage. This can do that job better than the typical wireless network range extender because this setup can supply full wireless-network bandwidth in the remote area due to the use of a wired backbone rather than a weak wireless network with all the vagaries of radio.

Why include HomePlug AV even if Ethernet wiring exists?

WD MyNet Switch rear Ethernet connections

8-port Gigabit Ethernet switch for use when you wire for Ethernet

HomePlug AV can serve as an “infill” solution for a wired no-new-wires setup especially if you find that you have to locate a normally-fixed device in an area that is further from an Ethernet infrastructure socket. This can be of importance if you have to shift it temporarily to suit a new need or you have network-capable devices in an area where you didn’t factor the need for Ethernet connectivity in the first place.

This could also allow you to work an Ethernet wiring setup on a “beer budget” with a few rooms covered and use HomePlug AV or similar technology to provide wired connectivity to other rooms. Similarly, you may have a part of your house that is separated from the rest by a thick wall made of brick, masonry or cinder-block where the Wi-Fi network won’t perform past that wall and it is prohibitive to pull Ethernet or other wiring past that wall. Here, the HomePlug AV technology “takes it past” the obstacle.

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Ruckus now runs a range of Wi-Fi access points for small-time setups

Article

Ruckus Announces Affordable AP Line | SmallNetBuilder

From the horse’s mouth

Ruxkus Wireless – XClaim Wireless range

Press Release

Product Page

My Comments

Ruckus Wireless have launched a series of business-grade access points that are pitched at independent IT contractors, “enthusiast-grade” home networks and small businesses.  They are offering this series of access points under a new “sub-brand” called XClaim Wireless which is totally focused on equipment and solutions pitched at and priced for the small-time user who doesn’t have their own IT staff.

Unlike a lot of business-tier access points, these aren’t bound to a particular controller appliance provided by their vendor. Rather, they can be managed by the Harmony mobile app which is user-friendly enough for this class of user. In some cases, it could appeal to a few “big-time” setups where an extra access point with “enterprise abilities” may come in handy for troubleshooting, temporary setups, new locations or similar activities before committing to expand a controller-based setup.

But they do have the business-grade access-point “tricks” like client isolation (essential for a properly-designed public wireless network),channel and band management, amongst other things. This also includes the multiple-VLAN / multiple-SSID functionality that allows the same physical Wi-Fi network to serve multiple networks such as a dedicated VoIP network and a general data network or Wi-Fi in a building lobby serving the building’s tenants’ networks and a public-access Wi-Fi service.

The series comes in the Xi-1 a dual-band single-radio 802.11n dual-stream (N300) variant, the Xi-2 which is a simultaneous-dual-band 802.11n dual-stream-per-band (N600) variant and the Xi-3 which is a simultaneous-dual-band 802.11ac dual-stream-per-band (AC1200) variant of the Xi-2 access point. There is also an outdoor model of the Xi-3 802.11ac unit, known as the Xo-3 which has the weatherproof requirements that make it fit for outdoor use. They all support 12-volt power from a supplied AC adaptor or can support power from a standards-compliant 802.3af/at Power-Over-Ethernet setup.

For that matter, the Xi-1 was called at a list price of US$89 while the Xi-2 was called at a list price of US$149 which underscored how they were to be positioned to the small business and similar users. The fact that these worked independent of a controller appliance had me think of them as appealing to small-time independent IT contractors who would be deploying or optimising small wireless networks using enterprise-grade abilities but without being required to sell controller appliances or be tied to a particular vendor.

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Why do I describe non-Apple operating systems and hardware as being open-frame?

Sony VAIO Fit 13a convertible Ultrabook at Rydges Hotel Melbourne

Windows 8 – open-frame as can be

I make references to computer systems or mobile devices based on platforms like Windows, Linux or Android as being “open-frame”.

This is compared to Apple’s computer systems and mobile devices which are focused around hardware and software interfaces are peculiar to that manufacturer’s devices. As well, it takes a long time for Apple to integrate a common hardware or software standard in to a platform although other platforms are already implementing the standard; or an accessory or peripheral vendor has to go through hoops to have a device considered “fit” to work with Apple’s products.

Android - also open-frame

Android – also open-frame

Computer systems that are based on an “open-frame” environment has the ability for one to connect peripheral devices easily to it no matter who the hardware or software vendor is. An example of this includes smartphones and tablets implementing a microUSB Type-AB socket for charging or transferring data.

Open-frame computer systems can attach themselves to a network or quickly discover and benefit from or share network resources using commonly-available standards that aren’t particular to one particular vendor. As well, the companies behind the platforms are quick to meld support for most. if not all. of these common standards and specifications in to the next major version of their software platforms and will nurture these standards through their platform’s lifecycle.

Naim UnitiServe - provides music va UPnP AV / DLNA to equipment independent of vendor

Naim UnitiServe – provides music va UPnP AV / DLNA to equipment independent of vendor

There are many examples here that I could mention.

One example is a Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer or an Android smartphone can quickly associate with a WPS-capable Wi-Fi wireless network segment at the click of a button on the wireless router as what happened when I stayed with some friends up in Sydney and when I stayed with another friend up in Ballarat. In both instances, I brought in my Samsung Android smartphone and a Windows-based review-sample laptop  to these locations and brought them on to the hosts’ networks to benefit from their Internet access.

DLNA collections listed as sources on the TV

DLNA content collections listed as sources on a Samsung Smart TV

Another example is to have the ability to discover multimedia content held on a network-attached storage device or media-server software using UPnP AV / DLNA standards which many manufacturers and software developers offer. I have seen this demonstrated many times with setups based around different manufacturers and software developers and, one time, this provided a simple on-ramp for a couple to show travel pictures to the mother-in-law.

Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth headphone adaptor NFC tie clip

Touch your NFC-capable phone on the clip to pair it with the headphone adaptor

Yet another example is my Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth headphone adaptor that quickly pairs with my Samsung Android phone when I touched them together in a same vein as a Braven Bluetooth wireless speaker that I reviewed. In some cases, this even applies to the ability for Android users to exchange contact details with each other or Windows 7/8 computers via Bluetooth or NFC.

How I see the personal-computing scene for both regular (desktop) and mobile applications is that there will be balkanisation taking place between Apple and the rest of the field and this has been underscored in the computer press as simply “the cult of Apple”.

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