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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The current top router from
Linksys is the EA4500. While there are many routers on the market,
for a power user that wants a full featured networking solution, the
EA4500 is worth considering.
What's in the box?
Cat 5e networking cable
It is worth pointing out
that everything in the box is arranged nicely, and the out of box
experience is on par with Apple. Also be aware that the while many
devices have WiFi built into them, if you need a wireless adapter,
they are sold separately.
For portable storage needs,
a USB flash drive on a keyring is a constant companion these days.
However, there are two weaknesses to this ubiquitous device. The
first is that the capacity is limited, and the second is that very
few are secure in any way. In other words, when it is time to do
some serious data moving, in a safe fashion, then the Aegis Padlock 3.0 becomes the right tool for the job.
This latest Padlock updates
the line to the latest in portable hard drives. The Aegis Padlock
now has a 1 terabyte (TB) capacity, which means it will be large
enough to backup most system drives out there... with room to spare.
The other is that the USB is now the faster 3.0 standard that we
should start seeing in more systems soon.