Synology RT2600ac review: The best router any savvy user could ask for

Synology RT2600ac review: The best router any savvy user could ask for

he Good The RT2600 has long range, fast Wi-Fi speed and plenty of features. The router can host more than one broadband connection, and also works as a robust network storage server More »

Google Daydream View review

Google Daydream View review

The Google’s new Pixel handset is the first and only Daydream-ready phone. It has finally set the company’s real VR plans in motion. The newest headset, Google Daydream View shows that the More »

Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200

Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200

Netgear released a new generation of wireless ADrouter – the Nighthawk X10 wireless AD7200 multi band router delivering total bandwidth of up to 7200Mbps with three distinct bands. It was powered by More »

TP-Link AP500 Home Wireless AC Access Point

TP-Link AP500 Home Wireless AC Access Point

TP-link  releases AP500 wireless AC1900 Access Point, so you can use to upgrade your legacy wireless N network with high speed wireless AC1900 network in homes, ideal for high speed 4K video More »

Hands on: Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN review

Hands on: Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN review

Our Early Verdict To build a VPN service with a customisable router appears to be a no-brainer as they both target the same audience and in this particular case, the WRT 1200AC More »

 

Untangling the mesh: Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi systems

ally plus

You want to have Wi-Fi in every corner of your home, so you bought a top-tier router. But you have found that a large part of the house still has no signal at all. What gives?

Why ‘traditional’ routers often disappoint

A powerful router’s Wi-Fi signal can be strong enough to cover approximately a 3,000-square-foot home, but only if it’s placed right in the middle of the house. This is because the signal spreads out equally from the router’s location. Most people, however, place the router where the service line (DSL, cable and so on) comes in, which is usually in one corner of the house. In the end, half of the router’s Wi-Fi coverage is actually outside of the house, leaving the farthest part of the home uncovered.

Home Wi-Fi systems such as Google Wifi, Netgear Orbi, Eero, Amped Wireless Ally Plus, and Portal — also known as home mesh networks — are designed to solve this problem. Instead of just one router, they come in two, three or even more units, allowing you to blanket your home with Wi-Fi.

But Wi-Fi systems aren’t perfect. Before you invest in one, consider these pros and cons.

Popular Wi-Fi systems

US price (per set units) Web interface Vendor connected Signal loss Features Protection against malware
Almond 3 $400 (3) Yes Yes Yes Limited No
Amped Wireless Ally Plus $300 (2) Yes Optional Yes Full feature Yes
Eero $500 (3) No Yes Yes Limited No
Google Wifi $330 (3) No Yes Yes Limited No
Linksys Velop $500 (3) No Yes Minor Limited No
Luma $400 (3) No Yes Yes Limited Yes
Netgear Orbi $400 (2) Yes Optional No Full feature No
Portal $319 (2) Yes No Yes Extremely limited No

Why Wi-Fi systems work

These are the benefits you can expect from a Wi-Fi system.

Custom Wi-Fi coverage

Not only will you get expanded coverage with a Wi-Fi system, you can also tailor the Wi-Fi signal according to the shape of your home by placing the extra units where they’re needed.

Generally, each unit can be placed as far as 30 to 50 feet from the last (one or two rooms apart). So if you have one long property, a set of three hardware units in a daisy-chain setup will deliver signal from one end to another. And with most Wi-Fi systems, you can expand your coverage by buying and adding more units.

They’re easy to use

If you can use a smartphone and have plugged something into a wall socket before, you then can set up a Wi-Fi system.

All Wi-Fi systems are dead-simple to use — at least those I’ve worked with, anyway. Usually, you can use your phone — not a clunky web interface — to set up the first unit and connect it to an internet source like your broadband modem. After that, all you have to do is place the rest of the units around the house and plug them into power outlets. And that’s it.

They’re frequently updated

Most Wi-Fi systems are managed by vendors and get regular software update to improve their performance, features and security. Even those that are not connected to a vendor also get automatic firmware updates to address any issues that might arise. So getting a Wi-Fi system means you won’t need to worry whether your home network is up to date with regard to security or updating (commonly known as “flashing”) the firmware yourself. And at times, you might even get a pleasant surprise when a new feature is added or the performance is suddenly greatly improved.

Built-in protection

Like many single routers, more and more Wi-Fi systems are now available with built-in protection for the entire home network against malware and online threats. This is a great feature to have if you have a lot of IoT devices — such as appliances, IP camera, printers and so on — at home that you can’t run security software on. Keep in mind that even with this feature, you still need to take precaution by changing the default password of each IoT device.


The caveats

There are a few concerns that one might have about using a Wi-Fi system. They are not necessarily applicable to every system, and I will explain how to mitigate or eliminate each one, when possible.

They’re expensive

Wi-Fi systems are generally expensive. Currently, the most affordable option I’d recommend is Google Wifi, which is still pricey at $300 for a set of three units.

What you’re paying for here is convenience — not higher-tier Wi-Fi. Google Wifi, like many other Wi-Fi systems, uses a relatively low-tier Wi-Fi standard oftentimes being AC1200, which is a dual-band, dual-stream (2 x 2) system that has top the speed of 867 megabit per second on the 5GHz band and 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. In short, it’s quite low on the performance chart and generally used by routers in the $50 range. So, if you know how to link three routers together manually, a mesh network-like setup will only cost you $150. However, in this case, it will take a lot more effort. So yes, with Wi-Fi systems, you pay for the convenience and ease of use.

Privacy risks

This doesn’t apply to all Wi-Fi systems, but many of them are required to be connected to the vendor at all times to function properly. In fact, you can’t even manage your home network without logging in to an account with the vendor first. Examples of systems that require this are Google Wifi, the Eero and the Plume. Some of those that don’t are the Netgear Orbi or the Portal.

Keep in mind that most other home routers don’t need to connect to vendors to work. Having your home network connected to the vendor at all times means the vendor potentially could be monitoring all that’s going on in your network, including internet traffic. All vendors say that they don’t collect user’s activities as websites you visit and so on. But no vendor can give absolute assurance that they won’t be hacked, either.

That said, for vendor-connected Wi-Fi systems, make your choice based on how much you trust the vendor.

Slow Wi-Fi speed

This is mainly due to two reasons, signal loss and signal degradation.

Signal loss is phenomenon that takes place when a Wi-Fi signal is extended wirelessly. In this case the signal hops from the main router unit to a satellite unit. This secondary unit will then have to do two jobs at once: receive the Wi-Fi signal from the original router and then rebroadcast it. And when the device uses the same band for these two jobs, it loses 50 percent efficiency, meaning devices connected to the main router unit will have double the real-world speed compared to those connected to a second satellite unit.

If you use three units and daisy-chain them sequentially to extend the signal farther in one direction, devices connected to the third unit will further suffer in speed — up to four times slower than those connected to the main router. The more units you use farther from the main one, the more the speed will degrade. A few Wi-Fi systems on the market don’t suffer from this phenomenon, however, like the Netgear Orbi or the Linksys Velop and more are coming soon, which don’t have signal loss if you use no more than two units.

But all systems suffer from signal degradation, which happens when you place the satellite unit more than 20 or 30 feet away from the main router unit. This happens because Wi-Fi signal generally gets worse the farther away from the broadcaster.

This makes it tricky to use a Wi-Fi system; if you place a satellite unit close to the main router unit to maintain the speed, it doesn’t help much with the range. But if you place it too far, the range is great but there’s not much signal from the original broadcaster to extend, so the real-world speed will suffer.

Most systems help users find out where it’s best to place the satellite units via the mobile app, but they tend to favor range over speed. To find the best balance, you’ll need to test the speed of your local Wi-Fi network during the setup process.

That said, unless you’re having weekly LAN parties, frequently transferring files between computers in your home, or you have a Gigabit-class internet connection, the signal loss and degradation won’t matter much since Wi-Fi is so much faster than most residential broadband connections anyway. Generally, if your internet speed is 200Mbps or less, chances are a Wi-Fi system (with no more than three units) can still deliver it in full most of the time. But if you have faster internet speed or need a fast local wireless network, a Wi-Fi system generally won’t cut it.

To mitigate the speed problem you can try placing the satellite units around the first router unit. And to eliminate it completely, connect the units using network cables. But if you choose this option, you’d lose the convenience factor.

Signal handoff

When you use multiple broadcasters, a connected mobile device like an iPad is supposed to automatically and seamlessly move from one to another as you move it around the house. This is called signal handoff. If you have a Wi-Fi system with excellent signal handoff, you will experience no disconnection when this transition takes place. But a system with bad handoff will cause interruption for applications that require a constant connection such as Wi-Fi calling or online games, when you’re moving around the house.

Lack of features and settings. Also: Not future-proof

All Wi-Fi systems I’ve reviewed, except for the Netgear Orbi, have a very limited number of features and settings that let you customize your network. Most of the time, Wi-Fi systems have just one or two features — mostly for prioritizing connections and parental controls — and that’s it. If you’re used to deep customization of your network, or like to have a web interface — the way things are with traditional routers — you’ll find most Wi-Fi systems very lacking. On top of that, most systems have just one LAN port on one each unit, so if you want to hook up wired devices (like servers or desktop computers) you will definitely need to resort to switches.

What’s more important is, once you’ve gone with a Wi-Fi system, you’re stuck with it. There’s no easy way to upgrade the hardware of such a system. So, if at some point you’re no longer happy with either your Wi-Fi speed or the feature set, you’ll need a new system entirely.


The alternative

Wi-Fi systems are here to stay. This is because they are set to solve the biggest problem in home Wi-Fi: coverage. That said, it’s expected that you will soon have even more options that might have better performance and more features — and the cost might go down, too.

One thing for sure, though: The best alternative to Wi-Fi systems is to run network cables to certain parts of your home. In this scenario, you have one main router, with all the features you want, and more access points (or routers in access point mode) around the house that connect to it via network cables. That’s the best way to have both fast performance and the most features at the lowest cost. Obviously, this tends to require a lot of work or even a major remodeling of your home.

Synology RT2600ac review: The best router any savvy user could ask for

Synology RT2600ac review: The best router any savvy user could ask for

he Good The RT2600 has long range, fast Wi-Fi speed and plenty of features. The router can host more than one broadband connection, and also works as a robust network storage server when coupled with an external hard drive. It also includes state of the art firmware that delivers a stellar set of extra features.

The Bad There’s no support for combining two LAN ports into a single superfast connection and you might wish the router had more than five network ports.

The Bottom Line If you’re looking to create a fast and highly customizable home network with advanced features, look no further than the RT2600AC.

Synology’s RT2600 wireless router is a major upgrade to last year’s RT1900AC. At the suggested price of $230 (currently you might have to pay a bit more on the street,) the new model is about $80 more expensive than its older brother but it’s totally worth the cost. That price converts roughly to £185 in the UK and AU$300 in Australia. The RT2600 is one of the fastest Wi-Fi routers on the market,which has the most comprehensive set of features. And when you connect an external hard drive, the router also works as a network storage (NAS) server so you can share data and stream contents to local as well as remote clients.

This is a router that can build a robust, non-compromising, secure home network.

Killer firmware

Like all AC2600 routers, the RT2600AC is a quad-stream (4×4) router with top speeds of up to 1,733 megabits per seconds on the 5GHz band and up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHZ band (keep in mind that these are just the ceiling speeds). What makes it stand out from the rest is its operating system (or firmware) called Synology Router Management (SRM).

With most routers, the firmware — managed via a web page — is rather primitive, and often bloated with menus and submenus. SRM works like that of a modern operating system, similar to Windows or MacOS. Within a web interface, it allows for opening multiple windows, search, notifications, transition effects and so on.

More importantly, things are organized in a way that’s easy for anyone who’s ever worked with a computer to figure out. There’s a control panel where most settings are located, a desktop with shortcuts to its main features and settings, a Start button that brings up more shortcuts and even a Package Center where you can install packages (applications) that add more functions to the router.

And if you don’t like the web interface there’s also a free DS Router app (for iOS and Android) that allows you to manage some of the router’s settings and built-in features on your smartphone, both locally and when you’re away from home.

 SRM is by far the most advanced firmware for routers I’ve seen both in design and functionality. Configuring the RT2600AC, therefore, is more akin to setting up a computer than a network device, reflecting the fact that the RT2600AC is designed for advanced users who want to customize their home network. Home users who just want to get online fast without having to fiddle with settings.

Comprehensive add-on features

The RT2600AC is the Package Center is the most powerful feature. It’s basically an app store where you can add more functions/features to the router. Want your router to work as a VPN server? Install the VPN package. Want the router to download files by itself? Get the Download Station package. Need to keep your entire home network secure? Don’t miss the Intrusion Prevention package.

Currently Synology offers eight free apps with more to come. The router also supports packages developed by third parties. And of course, if you don’t want any of these, you can uninstall them at anytime.

It’s important to note that each of these free apps are extremely well-designed, comprehensive and deserves a separate review of its own. The Download Station, for example, can download files from any sources, including FTP servers, DHCP servers, or file sharing services like BitTorrent (it includes a comprehensive BitTorrent Search function.) The Intrusion Prevention package can protect your home network in various ways. It also gives detailed reports and analysis, including the ability to pinpoint on a world map where detected threats are coming from.

By the way, since the router doesn’t have a lot of built-in storage space, you need a USB external hard drive or an SD card (the router has two USB ports and one SD card slot) before you can install most of the packages. Once you’ve given it some extra storage space, the router will also work as a robust network storage server, very similar to a dedicated NAS server from Synology such as the DS416 Play. That makes it easy to share or stream data to multiple devices.

One other cool thing about those packages: some, like the Download Station or the Media Server, include their own mobile app (for iOS or Android) so that you can manage tasks on or stream media to your mobile device even when you’re out and about. And you can choose to use an account with Synology for convenience’s sake or create your own remote access to the router so you can use these mobile apps without the router being connected to Synology at all.

Stellar built-in features

Optional extra packages aside, the RT2600AC is great straight out of the box thanks to a strong slate of built-in features and settings. For example, the web-filtering, which is part of the Parental Control feature, can block internet access based on categories (adult, social media, advertising and so on) or block specific domains. You can set the block to work manually or schedule it to work at specific times. All of it worked extremely well when I tested it out.

In fact, the router is one of very few I’ve known that can block secure HTTPS sites (like Facebook or YouTube). Most other routers can’t, including my other favorite, the Asus RT-AC88U. And when I chose to block advertising to my computer, I could surf the web on it ad-free.

Another useful, comprehensive feature is the Traffic Control that allows you to manage and monitor internet bandwidth. Again, you also get the detailed analysis and reports on the network’s online activities.

Needless to say, the RT2600AC also allows for deep customization of your Wi-Fi network and other common network settings. It has all the settings you’d need, such as port forwarding, Dynamic DNS, MAC filtering and so on. If it’s something you’d want from a home router, the RT2600AC has it and likely more.

Dual-WAN-ready but only four LAN ports

There’s one thing I wish it had more of, however: the network ports. The RT2600AC has the usual one WAN (internet) port to connect to your modem and four LAN ports for wired clients. It also lets you turn one of the LAN ports into a second WAN port in case you want to use two broadband services at the same time. Most people don’t need this but if you want to either maintain the internet speed during heavy usage or make sure you’ll be online all the time, this is a great feature to have. Just know that when you use it, you’ll have just three LAN ports left for wired clients, before you need to resort to a switch to add more ports.

The reason the number of ports is an issue for me is because the Asus RT-AC88U, which also features Dual-WAN, has eight LAN ports. It also has link aggregation, meaning it can combine two LAN ports into a single superfast connection. The RT2600AC can’t do that, which is a bit disappointing given that servers, including NAS servers, are the devices that benefit the most from link aggregation. Hopefully, Synology adds the feature via firmware update.

Synology RT1900ac review: A great router and NAS server (in one) at an excellent price

Synology RT1900ac review: A great router and NAS server (in one) at an excellent price

The Synology RT1900ac delivers excellent Wi-Fi performance. It ia a great router that has lots of features and can work as a capable NAS server when hosting an external hard drive. The router is cheaper than most competing devices.

But its range on the 5GHz band is a little short, and you need an external drive to enjoy its NAS features.

Synology RT1900ac review: A great router and NAS server (in one) at an excellent price

The RT1900ac is a Wi-Fi router, also it is a network-attached storage server. The fact that it’s the first router from Synology — a company that’s known for making NAS devices — probably has something to do with it.

When hosting an external hard drive connected to its USB 3.0 port, the RT1900ac is indeed a formidable storage server. And in testing, as either a Wi-Fi router or a NAS server, the device was excellent, for the most part edging out more expensive competitors, such as the Asus RT-AC68U or the Netgear R7000. It’s not perfect, however, with a relatively short range on the 5GHz band and only average network storage data rates. But at the current cost of just $150 (converted, that’s about £105 or AU$200), it’s the least expensive AC1900 router.

That said, if you want a router that delivers excellent Wi-Fi performance and can also work as a host for Time Machine backup, file sharing, media streaming and pretty much anything else you can do with a typical NAS drive, the RT1900AC is an excellent buy.

For more excellent home network router options, check out CNET’s list of best 802.11AC routers.

Synology RT1900ac review: A great router and NAS server (in one) at an excellent price

Hardware

As the name suggests, the RT1900AC is an AC1900 router. It has a top on-paper speed of 1,300Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. On the inside, it’s powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor and 256MB of DDR3 memory. The router has more powerful specs than the Asus RT-AC68U (which runs a dual-core 800MHz predecessor) but weaker than the Linksys WRT1900ACs (dual-core 1.3GHz.)

The router has one USB 3.0 port and one SD card slot on its left side. You can use these ports to host an external hard drive and an SD card to take advantage of the router’s storage features. Using a storage device allows you to add even more features to the router. (More on this below.) And though it’s designed to lie flat, the router can also be mounted on a wall.

Synology RT1900ac review: A great router and NAS server (in one) at an excellent price

Software

What makes the RT1900ac stand out from other AC1900 routers is its Linux-based operating system (also known as the firmware) called Synology Router Manager (SRM). This firmware is a variation of the DiskStation Manger (DSM) operating system used for all of Synology’s NAS servers. If you’ve used a Synology NAS server before, you’ll find the interface of the RT1900ac extremely familiar.

And even if you’ve never used a Synology product, the SRM is easy to figure out. The router’s interface, accessible via a browser, is very similar to that of a traditional desktop operating system, like Windows or Mac OS. In fact it’s the most comprehensive interface for a router I’ve seen, with items tied together and organized in an intuitive way.

Linksys Velop 3 Band Mesh Wifi System

Linksys Velop Mesh wifi system

There is new Velop three band modular home mesh wifi system that comes from Linksys, which is a whole home wifi system with auto-fix and instant alerts.

Linksys Velop

Few networking vendors introduce home mesh wifi system to replace wireless router and range extender in homes as there is new wave of the way wifi connects. Linksys Velop comes to compete with other existing mesh home wifi system in the market including Orbi by Netgear, new series of Amplifi by Ubiquiti (Standard, Long range and High density), Eero and Google home mesh wifi system. And now Linksys offers similar product, Linksys Velop mesh wifi system.

What this product does

Dead zones in a traditional single wireless router in large homes is common. One thing that you might to do is to add a wireless range extender to eliminate the dead zone such as Linksys RE6500 wireless AC1200 extender or Netgear EX7300 Nighthawk X4 AC2200 range extender.

However, sometimes speeds of the devices in area where you add a wireless extender deteriorate and sometimes moving devices don’t roam seamlessly. So that’s why home mesh wifi system comes to solve the problem and Linksys Velop is one of best home mesh wifi system, modular system with easy to scale up.

Highlight

  • Whole home mesh wifi system with auto-fix and instant alerts
  • Simultaneous Tri-Band (2.4Ghz + 5GHz + 5GHz)
  • Compact and sleek device with modular system
  • Each Velop covers up to 2,000 sq ft area
  • Based on wireless AC2200 (867 + 867 + 400Mbps)
  • Supports Multi-User MIMO and 256 QAM technologies
  • 6x internal high power antennas on top of tower
  • Powered by high performance 1.4Ghz Quad core processor
  • Memory 4GB Flash and 512 MB RAM
  • Works with Amazon Alexa
  • 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports WAN/LAN with auto sensing technology
  • Linksys app for easy network management via your mobile devices

The model is designed nice and elegant you can place in your home as part of your home décor with white color.

 

Linksys Velop Mesh wifi system

3 band wifi

Linksys Velop is a three band mesh home wifi system based on wireless ac2200 technology delivering speeds of up to 867Mbps (5Ghz #1) + 867Mbps (5Ghz #2) and + 400Mbps @2.4Ghz band for total of 2200Mbps in a single network configuration.

When you compare Velop with Netgear Orbi, you can find that Orbi offers higher speed. Orbi delivers total bandwidth of up to 3,000Mbps (1733Mbps + 866Mbps + 400Mbps) with three band technology.

Both Velop and Orbi support Multi User MIMO (MU-MIMO) and QAM256 technologies to allow concurrent data transport to multiple devices at the same time as opposed with non MU-MIMO router which sends data to multiple devices one by one in a series.

2,000 Sq ft coverage

Each of single Velop covers up to 2,000 sq ft area and you can add one Velop to extend another 2K Sq ft coverage. Two Velop units can cover up to 4,000 Sq ft area, the same coverage as two units of Netgear Orbi can cover.

Velop is modular wifi solution you can scale up when your wifi grows, strong signal and speed from edge to edge of your home.

Linksys app

The good thing with Linksys Velop is the auto-fix feature. When a node looses connection you might not be able to get connected to the internet. Velop will fix that, system will automatically re-establish internet connection for the remaining nodes.

Velop comes with Linksys app to help you manage your network via mobile device including setting parental control, guest network, auto-fix node, add nodes for scale up and all other networking tasks.

High performance hardware

Linksys Velop is powered by high performance Octa core processor with clock speeds 716Mhz. Normally wireless three band routers come with dual core processor, you can mention Linksys EA9500 AC5400 is embedded with 1.4Ghz dual core processor, so is Netgear Nighthawk X8. See also comparison between Linksys EA9500 vs Nighthawk X8.

The new Netgear AD7200 is powered by higher speed of 1.7GHz Quad-core processor, a new router with new wireless AD standard.

Spec comparison

To understand spec comparison between Linksys Velop and Netgear Orbi, take a look at the following spec comparison table between the two.

Table 1 Velop Vs Orbi

Model Linksys Velop Netgear Orbi
Wifi technology AC2200 with MU-MIMO and QAM256 technologies AC3000 with MU-MIMO and QAM256 technologies
# bands Tri-Band (2.4Ghz + 5GHz + 5GHz) Tri-Band (2.4Ghz + 5GHz + 5GHz)
Speeds 2,200Mbps (867 + 867 + 400Mbps) 3,000Mbps (1733 + 866 + 400Mbps)
Network coverage / device Up to 2,000 sq ft / Velop Up to 2,000 sq ft / Orbi
Ethernet Port 2x Gigabit WAN and LAN ports 4x Gigabit Ethernet ports1xWAN and 3xLAN for router

4xLAN for satellite

Hardware 716Mhz quad core processor with 4GB flash and 512 MB RAM quad core processor with 4GB flash and 512 MB RAM
Price $349.97 / two pack $399.99 / two pack

 

There are few more home mesh wifi products available in the market including Google mesh wifi, Luma wifi system, Eero and Ubiquiti Amplifi and they will compete to prove which one is the best to meet your need.

Summary

Linksys Velop is a whole home three band mesh wifi system delivering total bandwidth up to 2,200 Mbps and coverage up to 2,000 sq ft each device. It is a modular system with auto-fix feature, MU-MIMO and high performance quad core processor.

Microsoft has a patent for a foldable phone-to-tablet device

Microsoft has a patent for a foldable phone-to-tablet device

There are many companies that fill patents for the foldable phones. The latest company which is found to have applied for one is Microsoft.

Microsoft discovered the technology by MSPoweruser and appears to be patenting a 2-in-1 foldable device which can function as a phone and tablet. The patent describes the device as flexible and supported by a flexible hinge structure. The diagrams accompanying the patent reveal a phone device which can be folded and transformed into a tablet similar to what you see on Lenovo’s Yoga tablets today.

The Verge noted that this patent is significant as the design is invented by Kabir Siddiqui, the same person who successfully patented Microsoft’s Surface kickstand and Surface camera angle. Microsoft is said to be releasing three variants of the Surface Phone by April this year. The three models will come with different specs ranging from 3GB RAM to 8GB RAM and 32GB to 128GB internal storage space.

LG and Samsung are expected to launch foldable smartphones later this year although the latter’s Galaxy X smartphone is said to be launched in the first half of 2018. Nokia was recently granted a patent for a foldable device which has two identical sides connected by a hinge with a single screen panel that can fold in half.

Can an iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4 Tablet Replace Your Laptop?

Can an iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4 Tablet Replace Your Laptop?

In the past 70 years, we used five high-end tablets at a desk, on trains, on buses, and on planes to see if we could recommend any of them for in-depth work: tasks such as serious writing and editing, taking extended notes in Evernote, and answering volumes of email at greater length than we’d want to do on a phone. Also, we asked artists and other professionals how they’ve incorporated these pro-tablets’ styluses into their work. Though we don’t think a pro tablet is a great choice as a laptop replacement yet—issues like multitasking restrictions and software that hasn’t really been optimized for these devices are limiting—their active styluses can make them good choices as secondary devices for those who prefer drawing or writing to keyboard entry.

 

 

Actually, a tablet based on a smartphone-descended operating system, like the iPad Pro (iOS) or Google’s Pixel C (Android), imposes limits on how you can work with multiple programs and get data on or off the device; and tablets running a touch-optimized version of a desktop operating system, like Microsoft’s Windows 10-based Surface Pro 4, don’t have those multitasking or input/output challenges, but struggle to match the battery life of a mobile-first operating system.Our takeaway is that no single pro tablet is the best for everyone, and a nonpro tablet or an entry-level laptop may be a better fit for many people. But we can at least clarify what you get—and give up—with each of three major pro tablet platforms: iOS, Windows, and Android.

Linksys LAPAC2600 Vs Netgear WAC740 Wireless AC Access Point

Linksys LAPAC2600 Vs Netgear WAC740 Wireless AC Access Point

For many people, they need a high performance wireless network in offices to support your businesses with the emerging of mobile devices with built-in wifi adapters to connect to existing wifi network. With high density clients in your businesses, home wifi AP such as TP-link AP500 is not appropriate to accommodate business need. Linksys LAPAC2600 is one of business class wireless ac access point to meet your businesses.

What this product does

Linksys LAPAC2600 is a compact device, wall mount or ceiling mount model blending with your wall or ceiling decoration, good looking in offices environment.

4x data streams

The equipment is based on wireless AC2600 with 4 data streams technology delivering aggregated bandwidth of up to 2,530Mbps; up to 800Mbps @2.4Ghz plus up to 1,1750Mbps @5Ghz band. The previous model is LAPAC1750 which comes with 3x data stream technology (see also Negear WAC730 and Linksys LAPAC1750 wireless AC access point with 3 data streams). They are all based on traditional 80Mhz channel width data streams technology.

Linksys introduces new Linksys WRT AC3200 routers based on 3 data streams of 160Mhz channel width technology delivering total bandwidth of 3x867Mbps (2.6Gbps) @5Ghz band.

MU-MIMO

LAPAC2600 supports Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology to deliver multiple data to multiple wifi clients (with MU-MIMO compliant devices) simultaneously as contrarily to non MU-MIMO product that delivers data to multiple clients one by one. In new wave 2 wireless technology, MU-MIMO is one of its feature to boost the performance of data rate throughput in high density clients.

Linksys LAPAC2600 Vs Netgear WAC740 Wireless AC Access Point

Linksys LAPAC2600 wireless ac2600 Access Point

New models of next generation of wireless AD routers such as TP-link Talon AD7200 and Netgear Nighthawk X10 come with this MU-MIMO feature. and new models of home wifi system Orbi by Netgear is also featuring MU-MIMO.

As a nutshell, the following lists the highlights of this product.

Highlights LAPAC2600

  • Based on wireless AC2600 with MU-MIMO technology
  • 4x data streams technology
  • 4×4 dual band delivering total bandwidth of up to 2.53Gbps (1,750Mbps + 800Mbps)
  • Single point control for clustering and captive portal
  • 1x Gigabit POE port and 1x Gigabit uplink port
  • Multi mode operations – WAP; WDS and wireless bridge

With POE supports, you need a POE switch to support all of the POE access point devices to connect to the switch to eliminate the hassle of providing power outlet on ceiling or on the wall. One UTP CAT5e or CAT6 cable for transmitting both data and power makes installation is easier.

Linksys Vs Netgear

Now, let’s compare Linksys LAPAC2600 with its competing product Netgear WAC740 which is the ultimate wireless ac access point product offered by Netgear. To help you compare the two products, the easiest way is to present the spec comparison in the following comparison table.

Wifi technology

Unlike Linksys LAPAC2600 which is designed based on wave 1 wireless ac technology, Netgear WAC740 is designed based on wave 2 wireless ac technology. Wave 2 standard could open the door for gigabit wifi thus supports more connected devices with MU-MIMO technology. Wave 2 is also available option of 160Mhz channel width for higher bandwidth support.

Ethernet Ports

So far, you might not find a single Ethernet port that deliver data speeds up to 2Gbps unless in some high end routers you can configure two teaming ports for two gigabit port aggregation such as Asus wireless AC5300 router and Netgear Nighthawk X8 wireless AC5400 router. But Netgear WAC740 offers 1x 2,500Mbps Ethernet POE port in addition of 1x 1,000Mbps Ethernet uplink port. With the wave 2 ac technology the availability of 2.5 Gigabit POE Ethernet port is valuable for more data rate throughput to the network, more connected wifi clients to network with high performance connection, eliminating network bottleneck and saturation.

Management

Netgear WAC740 offers better performance with wave 2 wifi technology and with multi-gigabit Ethernet port. However, you need separate hardware controller to manage the APs, you need either WC7500/7600/9500 for management controller. Linksys doesn’t need hardware controller. You may also consider Ubiquiti Unifi series – business class wireless ac access point with affordable price that allows you manage multi-site networks easily with controller software such as Ubiquiti UAP-PRO-AC.

Take a look more detail on the table, other spec differences if any between Linksys LAPAC2600 and Netgear WAC740.

Table 1 Linksys LAPAC2600 Vs Netgear WAC740

Model Linksys LAPAC2600 Netgear WAC740
Wireless technology Wireless ac2600 Wireless ac2400 wave 2
Streams 4 data streams 4 data streams
MU-MIMO Yes Yes
Management Single point control: clustering Controller managed by WC7500/ WC7600/WC9500 (not included)
Speeds Up to 800Mbps @2.4GhzUp to 1,750Mbps @5Ghz Up to 600Mbps @2.4GhzUp to 1,750Mbps @5Ghz
Ethernet Ports 1 x Primary Gigabit LAN Port with IEEE 802.3at PoE+1 x Secondary Gigabit LAN Port for Link Aggregation 1x 10/100/1000/2500Mbps Gigabit port with auto uplink POE support (Multi-Gigabit switch needed)1x 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit port with auto uplink
Antennas Internal PCBA Antenna4.4 dBi @2.4GHz; 5.2 dBi @5GHz Four (4) reverse SMA antenna connectors for dual band 2.4 and 5GHz external antennas (not included)
Mode Wireless APWDS

Wireless Bridge

Wireless APP2P wireless WDS

P2MP wireless WDS

Repeater mode

Security features 16x SSID, SSID broadcast, SSID to VLANWPA/WPA2 personal/enterprise

RADIUS, Rogue AP detection

WPA/WPA2, 802.11i; Block SSID broadcast; secure SSH Telnet.MAC filter; Rogue AP detection,

Remote mngnt login

Peer-to-peer blocking

 

Price $355.00 $599.99

 

You may also consider Aruba IAP-205 for medium business that may contain up to 16 APs and with single AP to act as the primary virtual controller that will failover to another AP when this primary AP fails. Or you may also consider Cisco Meraki M32 for enterprise – a cloud managed AP with multi sites.

Summary

Linksys LAPAC2600 is business class wireless ac access point delivering aggregated bandwidth of up to 2,535Mbps dual band with 4×4 MU-MIMO technology with business class security features. Unlike Linksys, Netgear WAC740 requires hardware controller for networking management.

Google Daydream View review

Google Daydream View review

The Google’s new Pixel handset is the first and only Daydream-ready phone. It has finally set the company’s real VR plans in motion.

The newest headset, Google Daydream View shows that the company is getting serious about virtual reality. Clay Bavor, Google’s head of VR, notes that it’s far lighter than other devices – specifically 30% – and is able to work with both the 5-inch and 5.5-inch Pixel smartphones. There’s also a bevy of other Android handsets on the way that will be able to work with View.

It’s still more expensive than Google Cardboard but it’s cheaper than the $99 Samsung Gear VR. That’s of course not counting the price of the smartphone Daydream View needs to actually run.

So how does it actually fare? Well, we’ve been using the Cardboard sequel for a while now and it’s become clear that Google’s view of VR is on the right track.

Google Daydream View: Design

There’s no doubt that Daydream View is immediately eye-catching. It just looks so damn soft and oddly appealing, like a comfy pair of sweatpants. It’s not the nicest sounding comparison, but every time I’ve mentioned the analogy to someone, their eyes light up in agreement.

Simply put, Daydream View’s cloth design is inviting and cosy, invoking the same feeling you’d get from lazing about without a care because it hides the tech we’ve come to associate with hard plastics and metals – and so far, this look is unlike any other VR mobile headset out there. Sure, Oculus Rift is swathed in stretchy cloth materials but with View, there are no wires, it’s far smaller and of course, portable.

Google Daydream View review

This alone is a combination that would entice anyone interested in trying out VR but coupled with the slate gray cloth (or the “crimson” and “snow” versions coming later), the Daydream View makes an undeniably attractive package.

Now, it’s not without the hard plastics. The Pixel phone sits right on top of an inner plastic tray that holds it in place. Then there are the glass lenses and, of course, the plastic controller that comes with every headset.

There are no buttons and the front closes with an elastic clasp that has a pull tab for easy access. I can see this getting worn down over time with all the stretching, but for now it’s stayed sturdy.

Audio is solely dependent on the headphones or earbuds that you have on hand – this is one thing Google didn’t pack into the box. Whatever device you use should work fine with View: there’s a spatial audio engine built into the Google VR SDK (software developer’s kit) which according to Google has been “highly optimised for mobile VR.” That means if a developer has taken advantage of the engine, there should be good spatial sound to keep you immersed in Daydream’s VR experiences.

Google Daydream View: Comfort

The View has one adjustable band that goes around your head. There’s some soft rubber on the inner portion of the strap to help the headset stay in place, but the plastic sliders often loosen during usage causing the headset to slowly slide forward. It was also hard to tighten them back up with the View still on the head, meaning I’d have to take it off, readjust and repeat.

This was both a good and bad thing; I usually don’t have to readjust headsets because I’m pretty much done with using them after a few hours. With Daydream View, I’d use it for longer periods of time and need to fix the band. So, it’s annoying, but it also means the headset is really comfortable and can be worn for longer than just a few hours.

What also helps with comfort is the fact that I don’t need to take my glasses off. The Gear VR has a diopter allowing me to see, but even then it’s still a little blurry. Somehow the Daydream View manages to fit large framed glasses into the viewer while maintaining a really small form factor.

Google Daydream View review

Most of the weight sits on the forehead. The face padding is extra squishy as well so you hardly feel the headset. My initial experience had a rather large nose gap similar to the one on the Rift. However during the review process, it was barely there. With next to no light bleed, the experiences were much better and more immersive. I think because my demo was quick and dirty, there was little time to fully adjust the headset properly on my face. At home, I was able to find a good level of comfort without worrying about the next person in line.

Google Daydream View: Performance and display

Using the headset is ridiculously simple. To get Daydream up and running, you just need to place the Pixel into the headset. The tray has little capacitative nubs that help detect where the screen should be centred while an NFC chip (also built into the tray) starts up the app.

It’s far easier than inserting a Samsung phone into Gear VR, but there have been a few moments where the app didn’t start immediately. I’d have to pick the phone up and place it down again for the NFC to register. Regardless, it’s a painless process and overall, a quick fix.

When I first tried out Daydream View there was a moment of lag, but I haven’t seen anything similar since. I also noted that the field of view wasn’t great but I’ve come to realise that it’s dependent on the device you’re using. Specifically, the 5-inch Pixel versus the 5.5-inch Pixel XL each provided a distinct viewing experience.

Google Daydream View review

The smaller Pixel presents noticeable black bars on the outer portion of the screen, whereas on the XL, it’s practically invisible. The AMOLED screens themselves are fantastic and absolutely brilliant in terms of clarity, colour spectrum and vividness. The viewing angle specs haven’t been released by Google just yet while the refresh rate and screen specs depend on the phone. For Pixel, you’re looking at 1080 x 1920 pixels (441ppi) and while the XL is 1440 x 2560 pixels (534ppi).

The difference in screen sizes means that smaller handsets won’t look as good using Daydream View since the FOV is bound to shrink, which is something to keep in mind if you plan on using a Daydream-ready phone that’s less than 5.5-inch in size.

For those on iOS devices, it’s unlikely Google will pull a Cardboard again and let iPhones get in on the Daydream fun. It makes sense considering the platform is heavily geared towards Android, but like the Gear VR, this means it’s losing out on a hefty portion of people who want a good mobile VR headset.

Google Daydream View review

Google Daydream View: Controller

The Daydream View controller is larger than a Rift remote and smaller than a Wiimote, which makes sense since it can fit inside the View headset when you’re done using it.

This makes it as portable and easy to use as the View headset. It also means you don’t have to hold your hand up to your head for controls, or buy an additional third-party device.

The View controller fits comfortably in my small palm and is so light I’m not surprised Bavor dropped it during the Pixel announcement. The controller is also pretty durable, as I’ve dropped it several times myself and haven’t seen a single scratch, dent or malfunction after picking it up.

There are only five buttons including a trackpad that doubles as a button. Below the trackpad, you’ll find an app button, which can show menus, pause, go back or change modes depending on the app itself. Then there’s the home button below, which returns you to the Daydream View’s home screen or re-centres your view. Lastly, you can find the volume up and down buttons on the right side of the controller.

Google Daydream View review

There’s also a USB-C port on the very bottom – which conveniently is the same as the Pixel’s charger – to juice up the device. Google says it has a 12-hour battery life and so far that matches up with my experience. A status light towards the bottom of the controller flashes three times after pressing the home button lets you know if it needs recharging.

For the most part, the tracking has also been surprisingly good. Various games involve aiming with it or using it to move around, and so far the controller has successfully accomplished these actions.

The only thing that’s been annoying is the constant re-centreing. Just like the major headsets where you can re-centre the view, Daydream View lets you re-centre the controller and headset. There were moments in-game or in the menu where the controller’s dot would wander off with a mind of its own.

I expected to re-centre the controller a few times after using an app or moving around physically, but on more than one occasion it would randomly drift and end up pointing in another direction (this was also long before I dropped the controller).

Google Daydream View: Apps and battery

The Daydream View home looks a lot like Oculus Home, which you may have seen on Gear VR or Oculus Rift. That’s not a bad thing, especially since the interface is intuitive and familiar. A simple swipe or a tap on an arrow with the controller’s trackpad lets you navigate the library and Google Play Store menus swiftly. From the Play Store, you can download and install apps and games immediately.

There are 25 games and apps to try right now, and like all the other platforms there will be plenty more very soon. Like Sony with PlayStation VR, Google is promising 50 experiences by the end of the year. I was able to try a decent amount on Daydream View and on the whole, came away impressed.

The usual Google repertoire is always fun to use in VR, with YouTube, Google Street View, Play Movies, Photos and Arts & Culture being the ones available. With the exception of Play Movies, the apps have all been used on Cardboard before so they’re not exactly earth-shattering options.

However Google has revamped YouTube a bit and made it much more VR friendly. You get to watch all your favorite 360-degree channels along with non-VR in 2D videos. There’s even a Google Assistant voice search if you want to go hands free.

On the game side of things, I was able to try Hunter’s Gate, Claro, Wonderglade and VR Karts (among others) all of which provided a well rounded experience that showcased just how much Daydream View can do.

Hunter’s Gate is a dungeon crawler that has you playing one of two characters who automatically shoots at the demons you’re aiming at. This game was able to show off the controller’s ability to aim as well as move the character around with the trackpad. It takes a minute to adjust and then it’s a breeze. You can change the aiming mechanism to use your head as well, which has been a staple for many VR shooters.

Claro is a lovely puzzler that isn’t too difficult and lets you relax a bit while moving the sun around with the controller in order to help a tree grow. Wonderglade has four carnival-esque mini games that again use the controller’s aim along with its internal sensors. VR Karts does the same thing and has you turn the controller so you’re using both hands. From there, you’re able to test out your racing abilities by tilting the controller to hug the turns.

Not including download times for games and updates for the various apps, and the Pixel itself, I was able to get around four hours of usage from Daydream View. If sitting by an outlet or using a portable charger, you can even keep the Pixel handset battery going since the charge port remains open and easily accessible.

Is It Better to Use a Wi-Fi Channel With a Higher Frequency?

Is It Better to Use a Wi-Fi Channel With a Higher Frequency?

When you have experienced problems with your wireless router, then you might start tweaking the settings in order to improve performance, like choosing a different channel. But are some channels inherently better than others? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a curious reader’s question.

The Question

One reader from our site wants to know if it is better to use a Wi-Fi channel with a higher frequency:

Today I had to call tech support to have my Wi-Fi channel changed because it was using channel 7, but the guy on the phone told me that channel 1 was “less powerful” than channel 11. He suggested that I use channel 11.

Using a Wi-Fi analyzer app, I discovered that channel 1 is the least used one in my building, so I ignored his recommendation and asked for channel 1. Was he right? Is channel 11 better?

Is it better to use a Wi-Fi channel with a higher frequency?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Mokubai has the answer for us:

Channel numbers do not denote power “levels”, so channel 11 is not “better” than channel 1 simply because it is ten digits higher. Wi-Fi does have overlapping channels though, which means that devices do not “want” to be on a channel that is too close to another nearby station’s channel.

For the best results and interoperability (least interference), there are only three channel choices: channel 1, channel 6, and channel 11. Here is an image showing why:

Is It Better to Use a Wi-Fi Channel With a Higher Frequency?

If there are many networks near your location, then you want to choose the channel which has the fewest or weakest signals. If, as you mention, that happens to be channel 1, then that is the channel you should use.

Our Picks for Best Fire TV Stick Bluetooth Headphones

Our Picks for Best Fire TV Stick Bluetooth Headphones

It is good option to choose the Amazon Fire TV Stick, as you can watch TV shows and movies but also has other features built-in.

With such one, you can pair with other devices such as keyboards, wireless speakers, and headphones.

Using headphones can be an advantage in many situations from not bothering a partner or just able to hear better.

With that in mind here is our picks of the best headsets to use with a Fire TV Stick. As always be sure to read the reviews on Amazon or elsewhere to be sure a set is the right unit for you.

They are a mid-range unit so while not top of the line thy wont break the bank, and are much better than ht many low cost units available.

Pairing them is easy with the Fire Stick by going to Settings–>Controller & Bluetooth Devices–>Other Bluetooth devices. The Fire Stick will start scanning for Bluetooth devices. The Archeer settings button is held for 5 seconds with puts it into Bluetooth mode.

They are a nice unit with good sound and a over-ear design that block out unwanted noise.

Sony makes the SBH60 Stereo Headset that also works great with the Fire TV Stick.

Our Picks for Best Fire TV Stick Bluetooth Headphones


They are a over-ear set so they keep noise in and help block outside noise. The batter life is around 7-8 hours and the sound quality is very nice.

Small sleek and stylish they are a mid-range unit that has a good price for the value.

For those on a budget and looking for a good set the Kinivo BTH240 work very well with the Fire Stick at a low cost.

They have a 10 hour battery life and can be used up to 33 feet away like most Bluetooth devices.

If your on a budget than they are worth a look and a good buy for the money.

Our Picks for Best Fire TV Stick Bluetooth Headphones

Summary


Using wireless headphones with a Fire TV Stick is a good option in many scenarios. Most often they are used to not bother a partner but can also be used in many other situations.

Paring a unit is very easy and quick task that most anyone can do with limited skill.

If you have a old set around than they likely will work since the New Fire Stick uses Bluetooth 4.1 which is backward compatible with most older versions.

Some wireless headsets can have a small sound delay which often isn’t noticeable until watching a TV show or movie.