20140729

Brother 2270DW Offline Error and Solution

I have had several printers through the years.  For the last decade I have been in the monochrome laser camp, due to the high quality of laser printing, and the affordability compared to inkjets.  My previous printer was a Brother 2140, which I still have, but as it was very low on ink, I decided it was time for an upgrade.

The new printer is a Brother 2270DW.  The significant advancement is that network printers have come way down in price.  This allows one to put the printer anywhere there is space and it can be hooked up to the network, while having a number of users and devices be able to send print jobs to the printer.  This is how most business environments do their printing these days, and most households can get by with one printer if it is networked.

The Brother 2270DW can be connected by three methods:
  1. USB port like a non-networked printer
  2. Wired Ethernet (LAN)
  3. Wireless (WiFi)
When I hooked it up, I obviously wanted it on the network, but as I change my routers sometimes, for simplicity I went with a wired connection.  I plug the printer with my length of CAT 5 cable, and it is physically connected to my router.  Not super exciting, but at least I can see it is connected.  There is also a rule that the printer can be connected via a wire, or wireless, but not both simultaneously.

One criticism of this printer is that one of the areas they cut costs on were the LED's.  It does not have any display, and rather just has a few LED's for power, toner and error.  These a basically "Idiot lights" and unfortunately, there is no LED for "Network connection," or WiFi on.

If you hold down the Power button for 10 seconds, it prints out a test page.  It also converts the printer from wired to wireless connection, or vice versa.

So the other day, my printer lost the network connection.  It was most frustrating as the printer was still connected via the wired LAN.  I decided to go to the Brother website, and it had information specific to this problem.  In fact, it even directed me to a special software tool that would reestablish the connection, or in my case not so much after running it no less than three times.  I also uninstalled and resintalled drivers as recommended, but the printer was still not connected.

I was reading the manual after nothing seemed to be working, and realized that the printer was probably in WiFi mode.  I held down the power button, out printed the page, and it was now reconnected.  I still find it silly that the 2270DW does not have a light to tell me whether it is connected or not, and whether the WiFi is on or off.  Perhaps when I upgrade again in several years I can get these essential "features."

--Jonas

20140724

Dlink 820L: Notes on Firmware 1.03b

I have had my issues with my Dlink 820L router, but at the last tech call, they did get it up and running.  I recently noticed that there was a firmware upgrade available for the router.  The release notes for firmware 1.03b were:

Firmware 1.03 
Date: 06/12/2014 
Release Notes: 
Fix the bug in web filter rule 
Update wireless driver 
Update copyright 

I figured it was worth giving it an upgrade.  My Sony Bluray player was still getting slow speeds from the Dlink of around 3 Mbps and to stream video was painful.

I downloaded the update, and upgraded the firmware on the Dlink screens (available by pointing your browser to 192.168.0.1).  I went from firmware 1.02 to 1.03.  The process took about 5 minutes.  They suggest that this is done via a wired connection, but I did this over WiFi and it was fine (although YMMV).

This firmware upgrade was a good one.  The 820L router's weakness has been on wireless performance, and this gets exposed in my testing, and is especially annoying obvious with my Bluray player when streaming.  After the firmware upgrade to 1.03, the signal is stronger and more stable to my WiFi devices.  I had no disconnects.  My Bluray player on another floor and a distance away from the router now is able to stream at 4 to 7 Mbps, which is a significant improvement, and far more usable.  While I have seen 14 Mbps from another AC router, with the firmware 1.03 the Dlink can now keep up easily with the streaming video of the Bluray.

For those experiencing WiFi issues with the DIR-820L from Dlink, this firmware upgrade is a welcome gift.


-Jonas

20140706

Apricorn Aegis Padlock DT

Apricorn is a market leader in secure data storage.  They make a variety of external drives, in a full selection of capacities, all with built in security features.  The Apricorn Aegis Padlock DT is at the larger end of the scale, and represents a full size desktop hard drive in an external enclosure.

What's in the box?
  • Aegis Padlock DT (available 2,3,4 or 6 TB)
  • USB 3.0 cable
  • Power supply
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Manual is supplied as a PDF on the drive

20140630

Netis AC1200 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router

A wireless router is an important centerpiece to a home network, and forms the backbone of distributing the internet broadband connection.  The latest standard is the 802.11ac, which incorporates the older 802.11b/g/n standard that works off the 2.4 GHz frequency.  It also add additional frequency in the 5 GHz range, which is capable of even faster speeds.  The other advantage of the 5 GHz frequency is at least for now, there is less gear there, and hence less congestion and interference.

In order to take advantage of the 802.11ac, a new router is a prerequisite.  Today, we take a look at the Netis AC1200 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router which incorporates all the latest standards.  Netis is a company that makes a wide variety of networking gear.  This router currently retails for $89.99 on Amazon.


20140628

Netis AC1200 Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter (WF2190)

The latest WiFi standard is the 802.11ac one, and more products are being introduced that utilize it.  This provides support across two bands, the first, the crowded 2.4 GHz, and the second, the newer 5.8 GHz portion of the spectrum.  As it becomes more pervasive, 802.11ac gear is becoming quite affordable.

While many devices come with built in WiFi networking capability, such as any late model notebook, there are still two scenarios where a USB networking WiFi adapter will come in handy.  The first is for a desktop that needs to be connected and is either not located near to the router, or Ethernet cable cannot be easily run throughout the house.  As I position my router in the basement, and my desktop on a higher floor of my residence, I am in that category, and have connected my desktop to the internet that way for years now.  The second scenario is on an older laptop, the computer still works, but the WiFi does not, and by using a USB WiFi adapter you can get some extra mileage out of an otherwise functioning piece of hardware.

20140624

Netis Beacon N300 Gaming Router

Netis Systems has been making networking products since 2000, but only recently did I hear about this company.  Netis was willing to provide their new N300 Gaming Router for testing.

The N300 Gaming Router is model WF2631.  It is a standard WiFi router with the usual 4 LAN 100 ports, and internet connection.  There is no USB port, but it does have 3 external antennas.  It uses the 802.11n protocol, and is backward
compatible to 802.11b and g, but does not support the newer 802.11ac protocol.  There is also support for WPS, with the push button on the rear of the unit.  It should be noted early on that this unit retails for a budget friendly $49.

20140611

Dlink DIR-820L Redux

My Dlink DIR-820L after a few weeks turned my network into a total mess.  I was running 3 networks simultaneously, including an 802.11n on 2.4 GHz, a guest network on the same frequency, and an 802.11ac on the 5 GHz frequency.  For whatever reason, it worked for a time, and then I was in the situation where all my devices were having issues:

  • Sony Bluray player that connected but was too slow to stream anything
  • Android 2.3 phone that consistently disconnected from the WiFi
  • Windows 8.1 tablet that could only connect to the 802.11ac network
  • Windows 8.1 notebook that could only connect to the guest network
As the problems accumulated, it was time to call for another WiFi consult.  I nicely complained to them at the support center that all my previous routers had worked out of the box, and had never had so many issues.  My internet connection is a cable modem from Optimum, with speeds of 18/5.  I was getting this on the 802.11ac network when I ran it on Speedtest.net, but on the 802.11n the download speeds were down to 4-6.

They talked me through getting this back down to the basics with a factory reset, initiated with pushing the reset button on the bottom of the unit with a paper clip hold.  When rebooted, they also had me download the firmware right off the Dlink website.  Than we proceeded to name the 802.11n and 802.11ac with new unique names.  I also did not setup a guest network.

I had low expectations at this point, but to my pleasant surprise, the gear than connected.  In addition, the 2.4 GHz speeds now run at the same speed as the 5 GHz speeds.  I think that the guest network was stealing away bandwidth, but not 100% sure.

--Jonas

20140527

Dlink DIR-820L: How to Fix the WiFi Not Connecting Issue

 I have had several routers through the years, from a variety of manufacturers, including Belkin and Linksys.  Recently, my Linksys was acting up, and I was eager to upgrade to 802.11ac, the latest standard.  I found the Dlink DIR-820L on Amazon for the fair price of $69, and pulled the trigger.

The initial setup was simple, with the usual connection of ethernet wires.  The 820L has the standard plug for the internet from the modem, and then the 4 ethernet ports for wired connections- in my case I plug in directly a notebook, my Brother 2270DW laser printer as well as the adapter for a Powerline adapter (which is my backup network when the WiFi fails- more to come on this).  The 820L setup in about 10 minutes.  Based on something I had read elsewhere, I decided to name the new 820L as the same name as my previous router, and reuse the same password.  This move proved a seriously lousy idea, and I don't recommend it at all.

20140515

Intel Atom Processor Z3740

The Intel Atom processor series has been the weakling of the block; in other words, the chip that the other ones would push around the school yard. The Atom was born with the intention of an x86 processor that could work within a small power envelope, and keep the low power ARM chips from taking over the lower segment of the market. Intel originally envisioned their Atom chips in the gamut of low power devices, from tablets, to smartphones, and to long battery life laptops. The Atom did find some success in netbooks (N270), but many consumers got frustrated with the limited performance of a single core processor, and even when Atom went dual core (N550) it still offered only a minimal performance gain.

20140422

Intel Core i5-4670 Haswell Review

Released last summer, the latest processor from Intel is known by the codename Haswell.  Following on the heels of Sandy Bridge, and then Ivy Bridge, the Haswell family of chips gets used across the product line in both desktop and mobile parts.

Spec wise, it is an 84 watt part.  It is a quad core part, but no hyperthreaded (the hyperthreaded quad core chips are the i7's).  It has 6 megs of cache, with a base clock speed of 3.4 Ghz, and a turbo boost to 3.8 GHz.  The graphics are Intel HD 4600.  It is based on the 22 nm manufacturing process.  I posted the CPU-Z below to confirm the processor used.

20140410

Coby 7065 Bites the Dust

Last March, I had jumped onto the tablet bandwagon and had purchased a Coby 7065 tablet.  I did not spend much on the purchase thinking that I would not use the tablet much, and it was more of an experiment with LinuxAndroid.

It turned out that I used the tablet more than I would have predicted.  It became my "Living room PC," and became my second screen of choice in front of the TV.  It was also most useful as an eBook reader for both textbooks, and leisure reason, including the Kindle app.

Last week, the WiFi in the tablet completely died.  This despite a new router that everything else is hooking up fine to.  I had discovered a few weeks after I bought the Coby that the company had gone out of business, so any warranty is null and void anyway.  These tablets are pretty much dependent on the internet to do anything, and with the tablet not able to connect, it becomes a doorstop, and there is no ethernet to plug it in like on most computers.

Sometimes cheap can be expensive, and this is an example of this.  RIP Coby 7065.

-Jonas

20140321

Aegis Padlock SSD - USB 3.0 Solid State Drive

Introduction

Years ago I came to the realization that I had become a "mobile professional."  Not because I crisscrossed the nation racking up frequent flier miles faster than I could count them, but rather because I was rarely in one spot for too long, and only infrequently made it to my desk to use my desktop computer.  Across the week, my computer work gets spread across 6 different computers, and all my data gets stored on removable media.  My solution to this problem was found in flash memory, and thankfully the capacities kept up to allow me to do this.


Removable USB drives generally fit into two categories: USB flash drives, or USB removable hard drives.  I use both as each has their advantages.  The USB flash drive is quite small, and easy to store and carry with me anywhere, however the downside is the smaller capacity, and depending which brand is purchased, they may be slow.  Conversely, a USB removable hard drive gains quite a bit in capacity, and may be quicker, but the downside is that even with a more portable one they can be larger than what easily fits in a pocket to carry around all day.

20120724

Intel Core i5-2500k Benchmarks

I got a new desktop, and it happened to have the Intel Core i5-2500k as the processor.  While it is the previous generation "Sandy Bridge" architecture, as opposed to the latest "Ivy Bridge," it still impressed.  This particular chip is certainly a favorite among budget conscious enthusiasts, and I quickly saw why.  This chip has been tested ad nauseum in the past, but I want to add the freely available benchmarks I use, and the comparisons to the older chips that few sites seem to test against these days.

For reference, the Core i5-2500k is a 4 core chip, with a clock speed of 3.4 GHz, that can Turbo Boost to 3.7 GHz.  It does not have Hyperthreading.  It has a healthy 6 megs of cache.

It certainly shines on the HyperPi 1 million calculation, that measures single core performance.  We can see the nice linear progression, and cut nearly a third of the time off my Phenom 2 time.  This is not surprising given the architecture changes, and that it also ties for the fastest clock speed on the chart.

The Core i5 most impressed on the multicore benchmarks.  Looking at Fritz Chess, and 7Zip, the numbers that it put up were even faster than I would have guessed, and show the 4 cores working together quite well.   On these benchmarks, we can seriously see how the dual core chips from a few years back get left in the dust.

In short, the Core i5-2500k is the fastest processor I have personally benchmarked to date.  It performs quite well across both the single and multi threaded benchmarks.  While I will still be keeping my AMD Phenom 2 quad core, if my fastest chip was a Core 2 Duo, or older/slower, I would give serious consideration for a main machine to upgrade to the Sandy Bridge part.  It is currently available for $219 on NewEgg.  While I have traditionally been an AMD fan, the benchmarks above make it increasingly difficult to remain loyal.

20120626

EA6500

Apparently tomorrow Linksys will be announcing some new routers.  The upcoming flagship model will support the latest WiFi standard, ac, and be named the EA6500.  Reportedly it will retail for $220, which will buy a max speed of 1300 mbps, with four internal antennas.  It will also feature 2 USB ports for those that want both network attached storage, and a network printer simultaneously.  Look for further details soon, and the reported availability is August.

Jonas

20120614

Western Digital MyNet

There is presently no shortage of manufacturers that are in the router market.  Sure, just about everyone has a router these days, but it is not clear to me that they get updated all too often unless they are a real networking guru.  Western Digital has been a long term player in the hard drive market, and at first I was not sure what they could bring to the crowded router table.

The first feature is the FasTrack technology.  This serves to prioritize entertainment traffic over the rest, which translates to a video stream not being interrupted.  Other routers can do similar things these days, but those with an older router, from an older standard like g, would benefit from an upgrade.

The second feature is built in storage.  I am a proponent of built in storage to a router, and have a 4 GB flash drive permanently plugged into my router that I frequently make use of.  The new top of the line router, their MyNet N900 Central has 2 TB built into the device.  While a serious price of $349 makes this less of an impulse buy, those that want to stream media could use this as a turnkey solution with no fuss.  The storage space can also be used for wireless backup.

Tom's Hardware