A problem with most distributed-Wi-Fi setups is that certain building materials and construction techniques can reduce their performance. Examples of this include where an extension is built on to a house that has double-brick or sandstone walls, or you have foil-lined insulation or metai-based window tinting as an energy-saving measure.
Here, your distributed-Wi-Fi system may support Cat5 Ethernet as a backhaul option in lieu of Wi-Fi wireless technology. But you may find problems with, for example, having Cat5 Ethernet pulled through the double-brick wall. Or you simply are renting your premises and cannot easily have additional wiring installed there.
You would then have to consider using HomePlug AV2 powerline technology to create a wired backbone for your setup. Most setups would require you to buy a pair of “homeplugs” which simply bridge the powerline network segment to a Cat5 Ethernet segment and use these devices to create that wired backhaul. Only a handful of manufacturers have dabbled in the idea of mixing HomePlug-based powerline technology and distributed Wi-Fi technology at the moment.
AVM offered a firmware upgrade for their Fritz! devices including their Fritz!Powerline HomePlug adaptors and access points for this purpose. Here, you could manage the distributed Wi-Fi network through your Fritz!Box Web management interface and this exploited the different backhaul options like Wi-Fi, Ethernet or HomePlug powerline that the devices offered.
Now TP-Link has implemented Wi-Fi 5 and HomePlug AV2 1000 to create a credible flexible distributed-Wi-Fi setup. This system, known as the Deco P9, can work with other TP-Link Deco distributed Wi-Fi devices using the best Wi-Fi backhaul or, where applicable, Ethernet or HomePlug AV powerline wired backhaul that the device offers. It does combine the wired and wireless technologies for use as a wider-bandwidth backhaul or as a failover measure.
One of these review articles said that the HomePlug setup offered by the TP-Link Deco P9 system excelled when it came to latency which they considered for gaming use cases. The other review described the P9 system as being fit for purpose with houses that have cellars and garages, more as a way to do away with those range extenders. I would add this this as being fit for extending Internet to bungalows, granny-flats, converted garages or similar outbuildings that have AC wiring to the main house — the HomePlug AV2 technology may do this job better due to its increased robustness. This kit’s use of HomePlug AV2 technology may even come in to its own with that static caravan or campervan used as a sleepout and connected to the main house by AC wiring.
.. and may work well for that man-cave garage or barn
More companies could come on board with distributed-Wi-FI devices that use HomePlug AV2 MIMO technology as a backhaul option to answer these needs. Similarly, they could offer HomePlug AV2 adaptors that can work in tandem with their distributed Wi-Fi devices that offer Ethernet as a backhaul option.
At least there is another company offering HomePlug powerline network connectivity as a wired backhaul option for their distributed Wi-Fi setups.
Previously, I have covered how AVM, a German home-network infrastructure company, have approached the idea of a distributed home network. This is through a firmware update to some of their newer Fritz!Box routers and network-infrastructure hardware (Wi-Fi repeaters and HomePlug AV access points) such as the Fritz!WLAN 1750E repeater and Fritz!Powerline 1240E HomePlug access point.
What also impressed me about their approach is the use of a wired or wireless backhaul rather than just sticking to a wireless backhaul. Here, it can be about serving areas which are out of the router’s radio range, including providing support for multiple-building home networks. This is while providing a simplified setup and operating process for your home network.
Initially this was a beta firmware update that may not be considered stable and only applied to a few devices. But AVM have got the firmware to a stable condition and have written it to work with more devices. This includes the Fritz!Powerline 540 and 546E HomePlug AV500 802.11n single-band dual-stream access points and the Fritz!WLAN 1160 802.11ac dual-band and Fritz!WLAN 310 and 450E single-band 802.11n repeaters.
Of course they have underscored a simplified setup experience with firmware delivery and network configuration. This includes a Web-based configuration dashboard which shows how the network is set up as well as the condition of the wired and wireless backbones. The support for a HomePlug wired backbone will please those of us who live in stone or double-brick houses where HomePlug is more surefire as a backbone or who have multiple buildings on that large property.
Like with other distributed Wi-Fi setups, there is an emphasis on bandwidth optimisation such as steering high-throughput Wi-Fi devices to the sparsely-occupied 5GHz band if they can support it. Let’s not forget the fact that these systems set each access point on a Wi-Fi channel that they determine works best.
But why should AVM support single-band access points and repeaters that work the 2.4GHz band as part of their mesh? This may work out by allowing these devices to, perhaps, provide infill coverage on that band using a different channel. For example, other devices that work on that band like Bluetooth or 2.4GHz DECT devices, or the microwave oven may cause interference for Wi-Fi devices and a properly-designed mesh system could re-optimise the channels to avoid the interference.
What I still like of AVM’s approach to distributed Wi-Fi wireless setups is that they are enabling this functionality simply through deploying newer firmware to existing products rather than requiring users to buy a new system. This saves the users money when it comes to hardware costs as well as seeing newer hardware in to the long term.
Solwise PL-1200AV2-POE HomePlug adaptor combines HomePlug AV2 MIMO and 802.3at Power-Over-Ethernet in one device
In 2013, Solwise became the first to offer for the UK market a “homeplug” that could work “best case” with a HomePlug AV500 segment and provide power to Ethernet-connected devices “over the blue wire” using the 802.3af Power-Over-Ethernet standard.
Now this UK-based network-equipment supplier have raised the bar with a Power-Over-Ethernet “homeplug” which works to the HomePlug AV2 MIMO 1200Mbps standard. This high-throughput standard offers a more robust powerline network link highly suitable for multiple-building setups like this example or small business and community organisations using HomePlug technology for temporary or semi-permanent networks in traditional business-grade premises. It is facilitated by use of all three wires (phase/active/line, neutral and earth/ground) of the standard AC plug to transfer the data along with the other improvements associated with high-throughput, robust data transfer.
Power Over Ethenrt concept
But wait, there’s more! This GBP£74.78 device doesn’t just provide Power-Over-Ethernet power through its Gigabit Ethernet port according to the baseline 802.3af standard but to the high-power 802.3at Power-Over-Ethernet-Plus standard. This can allow for multiple-band multiple-radio access points answering to 802.11ac standards, highly-powerful access points or IP videosurveillance cameras that can yield high-quality pictures.
I have covered the issue of bringing your home network and Internet service to other buildings on your property, whether they be a garage, barn or granny flat (mother-in-law apartment).
You may consider this as being of value to, for example, achieve a quieter house by having your teenagers playing their video games in the converted garage; bringing Netflix and similar services to the man-cave or just simply allowing whoever is sleeping in the guest-house to have access to the Internet.
Europeans will benefit from the fact that one right-sized satellite dish could cover your property’s satellite-TV needs including the ability to watch from that granny flat thanks to SAT>IP technology that exploits your home network as a satellite-antenna link.
This will provide what I have been talking about as a single diagram that you can understand.
Methods to link buildings in a multiple-building home network
He has his cable TV and download-to-view in the man-cave!
Most of you may have seen me incite the use of HomePlug powerline-network technologies as a viable option for multiple-building home network situations like linking that granny-flat, garage or barn to the Internet service coming in to the main house but may have doubts about whether I have seen it work for myself. Now I have set up such a network and seen it work for myself.
Last Sunday, I had visited some friends of mine who had just moved to a new house. This outer-suburban house had come with a detached garage where some of the space was purposed as a “man-cave” by the man of the house and he even had cable TV installed out to this location.
But the cable-TV service was augmented with a “download-to-view” movie-rental service which depended on the set-top box, which was a PVR, being connected to the Internet. The main set-top box in the house was already connected to the Internet and the home network via a HomePlug AV500 powerline-network segment using HomePlug adaptors supplied by the cable-TV provider. But the man of the house, who is IT-savvy, had a pair of “homeplugs” compliant to the same HomePlug AV500 standard as the existing segment.
What this is all about
Here, I integrated one of the “homeplugs” in to this segment using SimpleConnect push-button pairing to make sure it works as part of the segment. Then I took this adaptor to the “man-cave” garage and connected it to the set-top box there. This setup worked reliably and promptly with the pay-TV provider’s “download-to-view” movie-rental service by permitting the download of two standard episodes of an American TV series.
This setup underscored the idea of the HomePlug technologies working as part of a multi-building home network. The requirement for this to work properly is that both main building and the outbuilding have to be on the same electrical service i.e. behind the same electric meter. As well, they will work properly where the buildings are located relatively close which may be around 150 metres (164 yards), typically represented by a suburban block or a cluster of buildings on a country property located close together.
For reliable operation, the electrical connection between the house and the outbuilding of concern has to be sound and not likely to deteriorate during bad weather. This can be a concern with older houses where the electrical infrastructure has been allowed to “go to pot”.
Part 2 – Accessories, Peripherals and the Home Network
Just before, I had covered the trends affecting desktop and mobile computing with such things as 4K and OLED screens, narrow bezels, Intel Skylake internals, business computers appearing at a consumer-focused show, and gaming computers that are rated for Oculus Rift.
Now I will be covering various peripherals, accessories and how your home network will evolve.
The display monitors for your computer are following a similar trend to what is happening for TV. This includes 4K ultra-high-resolution screens and curved displays. But a few manufacturers are rolling out OLED screens in their product lineup. This will mean that you could see the benefit of increased contrast and colour definition on your computer’s display whether it serves as a secondary or “desktop” monitor for your laptop or primary or secondary monitor for your desktop.
Expect the USB Type-C connector to be common on this year’s monitors and peripherals
One of tbe trends starting to appear is for a display monitor to have a USB Type-C connector, more so with DisplayPort over USB-C connectivity. This capitalises on the fact that the monitor will be connected to a suitably-equipped laptop, tablet or 2-in-1 and will be this cable is the one cable that will provide power to charge or run the portable along with a physical link for data and video. Most of these monitors will have a self-powered USB hub along with an integrated Webcam and speaker system. On the other hand, there are the 15”-19” portable monitors with USB-C connection and powered by the host computer which will serve as portable “extra-screens” to use with these computers.
ASUS has presented the latter type of these displays with their MB169C which is a 15” portable monitor that features a 15.6” Full HD LCD screen and connects to the host computer via a USB Type-C connector. They also launched the MX27UQ which is a 27” 4K UHDTV screen with Bang & Olufsen ICEPower amplification for the sound and can stream sound from your computer or smartphone via Bluetooth. This is available in an Icicle Gold finish. They also launched a 34” curved monitor with a UQWHD (3440×1440) resolution that has a Qi wireless charging base and has its sound amplified using B&O ICEPower technology.
Lenovo ThinkVision X1 4K monitor
Lenovo has added the ThinkVision X1 monitor to their premium “X1” computing product lineup with this one being equipped with a 27” 4K IPS screen set against a very narrow bezel. It is intended to be an “at-base” companion to the latest crop of laptops thanks to a USB Type-C connection that provides power to the laptop that it is connected to as well as being a USB hub. It also comes with a 1080p Webcam that has a microphone array, LED lighting and mechanical privacy filter; along with a stereo pair of 3W speakers. It can also be connected to other devices thanks to an HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2 connector.
The Lenovo ThinkVision X24 Pro adds on an Intel RealSense camera and the option for a WiGIg connection bar for wireless connectivity with suitable laptops and tablets. Gamers will relish in the fact that Lenovo has catered for them with the Y27g Razer Edition curved gaming monitor which has a 27” Full HD display and RGB lighting on the back to providing interesting effects. This also can work tightly wiht G-Sync-capable display cards.
LG advanced the 27UD88 27” 4K gaming monitor that optimises itself to work with the latest AMD graphics subsystems.
Dell has not been quiet on the display monitor front with them offering a range of 21” and 23.8” wireless monitors that can work with Windows and Android devices. These also have a Qi / PMA wireless charging base with the smaller variant having 2 three-watt speakers and the larger variant having a narrow bezel and improved colour accuracy.
They alos premiered the UltraSharp 30 which is a 30” 4K OLED monitor that also uses a USB Type-C connector as a way to connect to the host device.
Computer Peripherals and Accessories
With the computer manufacturers releasing more devices that are equipped with USB Type-C connectors, especially as a way to power these devices, the peripherals and accessories scene has responded with a range of devices that have USB Type-C connections.
Lenovo will be fielding the WriteIT 2.0 which adds pen capabilities to any Windows-based tablet or 2-in-1 that implements a touchscreen. This could then allow you to benefit from pen-based operation without paying dearly for that function. Wacom are also selling this same stylus as the Bamboo Smart and thsi works with “active electrostatic” or capacitive touch screens.
The Lenovo Link 32Gb memory stick celebrates mobile and regular open-frame computing very finely by allowing you to connect your Windows and Android devices to each other. This allows you to mirror your Android phone’s display on your Windows computer and provides local file transfer between both platforms. It will work with Android 5.0, Windows 7 and newer versions of these operating systems and your smartphone will have to have a USB On-The-Go connection or USB Type-C connection.
Lenovo also added to the ThinkPad Stack an external battery pack and a pico projector.
Samsung 2Tb solid-state external storage device
Samsung used their expertise in developing solid-state flash storage to prepare a USB portable storage device that can hold up to 2Tb of data, the same quantity as a lot of USB hard disks. This connects to the host device using a USB 3.1 Type-C connection but you could connect it to existing devices using a USB Type-C adaptor cable.
Griffin are known for aftermarket accessories and peripherals that are typically pitched to the Apple ecosystem but, in a lot of cases, can work wiht omst computers. They have fronted up with the BreakSafe cable which gives USB Type-C connections the same “safe disconnect” abilities as Apple’s MagSafe connection, a boon to those of you who own the latest 12” Apple MacBook that uses this connection. They also launced an external battery pack that attaches to your keyring so you can charge up your Apple Watch when out and about. They also launched the Survivor Slim Case which is a ruggedised case for the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.
Seagate have launched one of the slimmest USB external hard disks around in the form of the Backup Plus Ultra Slim external hard disk. This device has a thickness of 9.6mm and is about more data in a slimmer package. As required for Seagate external hard disks, this unit has backup software with one-touch or scheduled host-system backup. Similarly, LaCie have launched an external hard disk that has Porsche design and connects to your host computer via USB Type-C. But this unit has another USB Type-C connection so you can charge your MacBook or other USB Type-C computer without forfeiting hte ability to use the external hard disk.
Scosche have also launched a lineup of USB Type-C cables, port hubs / chargers and adaptors. One of these is the StrikePort USB-A + HDMI + USB-C adaptor which has a USB Type-C connector for charging while another of these is the StrikeDrive USB-C car adaptor which plugs in to your vehicle’s cigar-lighter socket so you can charge your USB-C devices – this can charge or power 2 12-watt USB-C devices. There is also a range of StrikeLine charge-and-sync (data) cables with ones that connect a USB-C device to a USB-A device and another that connects a USB-C device to a MicroUSB device.
Panasonic have established the case for BluRay optical discs as a “cold-storage” medium for archived data and this is based on what Facebook is storing those selfie snaps, holiday pictures and other images that you tender to the social network. They have started with 100Gb disks bot are moving towards 1 Terabyte disks which they are calling “Freeze Ray”.
Braven have come forth with a slew of accessories for your smarpthone or tablet. One of these is the BRV-BANK Pro LE which is an ultra-rugged modular battery pack . This pack has a 300-lumen LED torch and is built in aircraft-grade alumium housing and can charge devices via a 1.4A USB port and a 2.1A USB port. The device has a waterproof rating for IPx7 and houses a 6000mAH battery.
Braven BRV-PRO LE modular rugged power bank
But it is part of a Braven accessory ecosystem with a solar charging panel, speaker, multi-tool, GoPro action mount and a stacking plate. A smartphone app which links to this battery pack via Bluetooth supports a “Find Me” function which causes the torch to flash SOS in Morse code. Campers will also appreciate the “Bear mode” that uses the smartphone’s motion sensors to alert the BRV-BANK Pro LE and cause it to flash the torch light and sound an alarm if the phone is disturbed. Here, the idea is to pack the phone with your food supply and be alerted if the local wildlife starts raiding your food supply and is a problem that faces North American campers because of bears being too dependent on campers’ food supplies.
Razer have even provided Intel RealSense technology in to an add-on Webcam in the form of the Stargazer 3D Webcam. This can give existing desktop computers that don’t necessarily come with integrated RealSense abilities this kind of sensing and could open them towards Windows Hello facial recognition along with 3D scanning.
In an out-of-the-ordinary move, Black & Decker, know for those power drills, have integrated USB device-charging functionality in to their power-tool batteries. They also implement an app to support a “find-me” functionality along with the ability to support a “check-in / check-out” function and the ability to control when the batteries are used.
Your Home Network
Yhere are a few trends that are affecting the home network and how it is set up. One of these is 802.11ac Wave-2 Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO operation. The MU-MIMO function effectively creates dedicated bandwidth for each MU-MIMO device that uses the network but also frees up more bandwidth for ordinary Wi-Fi devices. This function is moving down towards the mid-tier routers and starting to appear in wireless range extenders with this function being about optimised bandwidth on the backhaul link and the device-side link.
It was also the time that the IEEE and Wi-FI Assocations have cemented the 802.11ah 900mHz “HaLow” wireless-network specification. This uses a lower frequency than 2.0GHz 802.11b/g Wi-Fi thus having a longer range and lower power but it doesn’t have the same data bandwidth as the Wi-Fi standards that we currently use for the home network. This will be pitched towards the “Internet Of Things” application case where a lot of sensors and allied devices will rely on batteries expected to run for a long time.
As far as HomePlug AV2 is concerned, the concept of the HomePlug access point which supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi and HomePlug AV2 has finally hit American shores thanks to Netgear.
Linksys have released their EA9500 4×4 802.11ac MU-MIMO router with Gigabit WAN and 4 x switched Gigabit LAN. This uses eight antennas to provide the MU-MIMO function. There is also the EA7500 3×3 802.11ac MU-MIMO router which is similar to the EA9500 but has reduced MU-MIMO abilities.
The Linksys RE7000 4×4 MU-MIMO range extender optimises the bandwidth used for the downstream devices whin it is linked to a MU-MIMO access point. As well, this multifunction range extemder has a Gigabit Ethernet port and can be set up to serve as a wired client bridge for a wireless network or as a MU-MIMO wireless access point – the latter being a way to upgrade your wireless netowrk to MU-MIMO abilities without throwing out your existing router. They also offer a MU-MIMO USB wireless network adaptor so you can join MU-MIMO wireless netowrk segments using your existing laptop.
Linksys have released DOCSIS 3.0 cable-modem hardware including a cable modem-router. They also exhibited the X6200 which is an ADSL2/VDSL2 modem router works on the 802.11ac standard.
D-Link have sold the AC4300 MU-MIMO wireless router and AC1300 MU-MIMO range extender as a kit in order to appeal to those of us who have larger houses.
Netgear have released the R7800 Nighthawk X4S Smart Wi-Fi Router whcih handles MU-MIMO with four streams and a processor improved on the previous model. This device also has the ability to work on 160Mhz channel bandwidth.
They also released the C7000 which is an AC1900 cable modem router that is part of the Nighthawk router lineup. For that matter, new firmware that will be available for the Nighthawk router lineup will offer native support for Netgear’s Arlos lineup of network cameras.
As for range extenders, the EX7300 Nighthawk X4 is a wall-plugged AC2200 unit with MU-MIMO for both the upstream and downstream paths. There is the EX6400 range extender which is the first wall-plug AC1900 range extender. Both these range extenders can also serve as access points to work wiht Ethernet or HomePlug wired backbones or as client bridges to serve wired network devices like smart TVs.
The PLW1000 HomePlug AV2 wireless access point can establish an 802.11ac wireless segment and can provide a HomePlug AV2 SISO (two-wire) backbone to the router. This functionality was offered by Devolo and was available only within Europe. But now, the Netgear device is the first device of its kind that is offered by a major home-network name to offer this kind of functionality to the North American market.
TP-Link have demonstrated a router that may have ordinary capabilities but be a “smart home” hub. The SR20 offers a throughput of 1300Mbps on 5Ghz 802.11ac and 600Mbps on 2.4GHz 802.11n and implements beamforming along Gigabit Ethernet for WAN and LAN. But it can be a “smart home” hub for Z-Wave and Zigbee devices and works alongside the Kasa mobile-platform dashboard app. This is similar to the Securifi Almond series of routers which have this kind of functionality and is the first of such devices to be released by a major home-network name.
After seeing a USB-C-driven direction for peripherals, OLED starting to light up computer display monitors, along wiht MU-MIMO increasing the throughput on Wi-Fi home networks, I will be covering in the next article about photography, audio and video trends from CES 2016.
Next, I will be covering the trends affecting digital photography and videography along with audio and video recording and reproduction technology.
Devolo have released a highly-compact HomePlug AV500 wireless access point that only takes up the space needed to plug in an ordinary appliance in to that power outlet.
The dLAN 550 WiFi works with HomePlug AV500 powerline network segments and is a Wi-Fi access point for 802.11g/n N300 two-stream wireless networks along with having a single Ethernet socket.
But the dLAN 550 WiFi is a small cube which has the same effective volume as a typical AC plug-head on the end of an appliance’s cord or a small plug-in nightlight in Europe or Australia, something I have observed with the situational photos that Devolo has published on their Website. This means that it only occupies the power-outlet space needed to plug in an appliance, thus avoiding problems that can occur with most HomePlug devices where you can’t plug in other devices in to a neighbouring socket on a double outlet when one of the sockets is occupied by a HomePlug device. There isn’t the temptation to unplug the Devolo dLAN 550 WiFi from that power socket (then leave it unplugged) because you couldn’t plug the hoover in to the neighbouring power socket .
It also answers situations where there isn’t much space around a power outlet, typically due to furniture being located nearby or a power outlet that is near shelving where you crowd out that shelving with books and other objects. As well, the Devolo dLAN 550 WiFi looks more discreet this pleasing whoever is in charge of the house’s aesthetics.
The Wi-Fi access point has a specified radio range of 300 metres which would make it good enough for improving coverage in that Wi-Fi dark spot in your home and it supports a simplified “push-to-setup” routine when you want to extend a WPS-capable router’s coverage. Let’s not forget that this unit supports WPS device enrollment for setting up “open-frame” computers and devices that implement this function – press the WPS button on the nearest access point to have that Windows laptop or Android smartphone on your network in a snap.
What I see of the Devolo dLAN 550 is that it could be a step in the right direction towards making HomePlug access points effectively become less obtrusive yet are able to extend the coverage.
The HomePlug powerline adaptor – a no-new-wires network best for that desktop computer
This last Saturday, my church’s pastor opened up to me that he was running in to difficulties with connecting his desktop computer to his home network. This happened after he moved to a new location due to a new ministry placement.
In his previous location he ran an integrated Wi-Fi setup because the router for his home network was located in the lounge area, next to his home office and this wasn’t causing any problems for him. But the new location required the computer and router to be further away from each other.
A follow-up call led me to find that he had bought a wireless range extender with an intent to use as a wireless-Ethernet bridge but found that this device was difficult to configure. Here I suggested something better in the form of a HomePlug AV500 powerline network segment which is something I have always advocated on this site as a “no new wires” solution for situations involving desktop computers and similar devices. He was confused about how these network segments worked because he was used to either a “new-cables” Ethernet setup or a wireless setup as a network setup and though this technology wasn’t going to work in his situation.
After the church service, we went out to lunch at a local shopping centre and afterwards, he and I went to a local JB Hi-Fi store in the shopping centre and he bought a HomePlug AV500 kit upon my recommendation. I had him have a look at the concept diagrams that were on the boxes of some of the other HomePlug devices stocked nearby this kit to understand what these devices were about and how they work.
Later on, my pastor rang me for assistance in setting up the HomePlug AV500 network and I helped him over the phone through the setup process where you have to press the SimpleConnect paring buttons to pair the adaptors over the AC wiring and establish the connection. This involved holding down the SimpleConnect button on one device for 10 seconds then pressing the SimpleConnect button on the other device for 2 seconds but watching for the lights to flicker in a certain way. I also suggested that this procedure is done on power outlets that are located close to each other before finally connecting them to the desktop computer and the router.
I also stressed that these adaptors had to be plugged directly in to the wall or in to an ordinary powerboard or double adaptor that doesn’t have surge-protecting or line-conditioning features. A few minutes later, I received a text-message of success that he had established the HomePlug AV500 powerline segment and set this up with the desktop computer and router.
Here, this support situation illustrated the fact that Wi-Fi wireless networking doesn’t suit all network needs and situations; and that a HomePlug AV500 powerline network can provide a better “no-new-wires” solution for sessile devices like desktop computers or home entertainment equipment.
Most of us think of filling in our home network’s Wi-Fi dark spots where there is poor wireless reception or extending its range through the purchase of a wireless range extender. But these devices can be a headache to use and, as I have heard for myself when I talked with a friend regarding their home network, these devices are likely end up being returned to the store very quickly.
As well, when I advise someone on filling in that Wi-Fi dark spot, I recommend using an access point that connects to the router via a wired backbone i.e. Ethernet or HomePlug powerline.
NETGEAR and Best Buy has answered this problem by offering the DST package which consists of a NightHawk R7300DST wireless broadband router and DST adaptor. The DST name stands for “Dead Spot Terminator” which is about eliminating these dark spots in a home network’s Wi-Fi segment. This will also get rid of frustrations that Best Buy face with handling the number of wireless range extenders that come in as returned stock.
Here, once you have set up the Netgear DST router and given your Wi-Fi network segment its ESSID name and WPA2-Personal passphrase, you can simply plug the DST adaptor which is really a HomePlug AV2 simultaneous dual-band access point in to the power outlet in the area you need to expand Wi-Fi coverage to. Then you press the WPS and DST Sync buttons on both these devices to effectively transfer the settings to extend the network.
You could “revise” your network using the router’s interface and have these settings transmitted to the DST Adaptor. As well, you can separately purchase extra DST adaptors so you can cover that large house easily. The HomePlug AV2 segment created by this router can be used for other HomePlug AV, AV500 and AV2 devices but, as far as I know, you don’t have the ability to transfer Wi-Fi network parameters from the router to other HomePlug access points.
I would like to see Netgear offer this feature across more of their routers including the modem routers and offer these products beyond the USA. This feature can be augmented through manufacturers implementing nVoy in to their consumer and small-business networking equipment to allow for simplified network setup using the best network medium for the job,
As well, the Netgear NightHawk DST router supports up-to-date requirements like IPv6 dual-stack operation and the system supports operation up to AC1900 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and HomePlug AV2.
It shows that it is feasible to have one-touch setup of multiple-access-point Wi-Fi networks and that there is a future in maintaining the concept of access points with a wired backbone as a way to assure Wi-Fi coverage across a home. Who else will come up with such a package. As well, it is a first for a major appliance chain to encourage a supplier to factor in HomePlug technology as a valid solution for a problem.
Previously, in Part 1 of my series about the Internationaler Funkaustellung 2015 in Berlin, I had covered the trends affecting regular computers, tablets and smartphones especially with Intel just releasing the Skylake processor silicon which yields better performance for the same amount of power used. This has caused manufacturers to effectively refresh their desktop and portable computer lineups. As well, nearly every computer manufacturer is offering a lineup of desktop or portable computers that shine on gaming-grade performance to appeal to the core gamer and e-sports communities.
ASUS ZenWatch 2
The smartwatch scene is slowly maturing with manufacturers offering more of these watches in their product lineups. The key trends here are about smartwatches that are designed to “look right” for the user and occasion. Here, we are seeing premium smartwatches that would look the part if you are to “dress to impress” on that date or in the corporate boardroom, but there are a few sports smartwatches with the rugged look along with a few “ladies’ watches” that look the part on her wrist.
Samsung had just launched the latest Tizen-based Gear S2 which has a traditional-looking round face and they have co-opted Alessandro Mendini, a well known Italian designer, to design accessory bands and watch faces for this watch.
ASUS has come along with the Zenwatch 2 Android Wear which uses an OLED display and Gorilla Glass protection and comes in 2 different sizes. It even has an add-on battery pack for if you want to get that more runtime out of the watch. Fossil has come up with another Android Wear watch as part of their range.
Motorola 360 smartwatches for her
Motorola have built out their Moto 360 range of Android Wear smartwatches with the Moto 360 Sport which is their smartwatch equivalent of the sports watch along with a slender “ladies’ watch” variant that will look good on her wrist. There are different finishes available such as a rose-gold look, a gold look, a silver look and a black-metal look with these watches up for preorder. This is also accompanied with a 1” TV commercial which they used to promote this watch.
LG Watch Urbane Luxe – fit for the boardroom
LG have also brought out the LG Watch Urbane Luxe which is a more premium variant of the LG Watch Urbane. This comes with an OLEP flexible display that works like the OLED displays and has a 24-carat gold finish. Huawei’s Android Wear watch can be had gold plated for US$800, gold with a leather band for US$649, black metal for US$449 and a stainless steel look for US$349.
The home network
The main trend affecting the home network is the availability of 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless-network technology which implements the MU-MIMO multi-path technology. This has led to some very powerful routers hitting the European market lately which have four MIMO streams and support the “multi-user” feature that effectively creates a Wi-Fi “switch” out of the access point.
ASUS RT-AC5300 router
ASUS has launched the RT-AC5300 which is considered the world’s fastest Wi-Fi router. This router, which uses spike-shaped antennas can run 1Gbps over the 2.4GHz band and 2.167Gbps over the 5GHz bands.
NETGEAR also fielded the 7800 Nighthawk X4S which is the first modem router to offer this kind of performance. This modem router has a DSL modem on the WAN (Internet) side that can work with ADSL2 or VDSL2 (fibre-copper) networks alongside a Gigabit Ethernet connection for fibre-to-the-premises, fibre-coaxial or Ethernet-based fibre-copper networks; and has on the LAN side, Wi-Fi capable to AC2600 4×4 MU-MIMO dual-band standards along with 4 Gigabit Ethernet connections. It is available in Europe and Australia for a recommended price of AUD$529, EUR€299 or GBP£269. The American press were moaning that they didn’t get this modem router first but they work on a service provisioning method very different to Europe and Australasia where self-install or BYO-modem provisioning of DSL based services is the norm.
D-Link have fielded some home-network hardware in the form of the DIR-885L router which supports 4×4 MU-MIMO AC3150 for its Wi-Fi functionality. They even fielded a USB Wi-Fi network adaptor which can allow any computer to work with an 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless network. This device’s best-case abilities is to work with Wi-Fi network segments up to 3×3 MIMO AC1900 standards.
AVM Fritz!Box 6820 LTE “Mi-Fi”
AVM has been very productive with its home-network hardware although this has been very much “in the comfort zone” with existing technology. They have launched the Fritz!Box 4020 which is a small Internet gateway with an N300 dual-stream single-band Wi-Fi access point along with the Fritz!Box 7430 VDSL Internet gateway that has an N450 three-stream single-band Wi-Fi access point. They also launched the Fritz!Box 6820 which is a “Mi-Fi” that can work with LTE mobile-broadband services and implements 802.11n Wi-Fi and a Gigabit Ethernet connection on the LAN side.
AVM Fritz!Powerline 1220 – AVM enters the HomePlug AV2 fray
They have bought in to the HomePlug AV2 MIMO arena by offering the Fritz!Powerline 1240E HomePlug wireless access point along with the Fritz!Powerline 1220E HomePlug adaptor with pass-through AC outlet. This is in conjunction with the Fritz!WLANRepeater 1160 which is a dual-band Wi-Fi repeater.
Devolo haven’t been quiet lately. Here, they are pitching custoem HomePlug-based powerline solutions including HomePlug access points to ISPs and telcos so they can provision these devices to customers for optimum Wi-Fi coverage. They intend to sell these solutions more likely on an OEM basis. As well, they have launched the dLAN 550 WiFi which is a HomePlug AV500 wireless access point that can establish a single-band N300 Wi-Fi segment. They also used this show to exhibit their existing dLAN 1200 HomePlug AV2 hardware including the dLAN 1200+ WiFi AC which is a wireless access point that answers to the HomePlug AV2 MIMO and 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi.
Next I will be talking about the home-entertainment trends that are expected to cover Europe and Australasia such as the ultra-high-resolution TV and networked audio. Stay tuned!
Part 4 – Home Automation and the Internet Of Things
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