Some computer components get all the glory. Your normal lineup of FPS crushing GPU’s, Handbrake dominating CPU’s, and super-fast Memory end up with most of the headlines. Yet behind the scenes, there are some computer components we use that are pivotal in our use and enjoyment of computers and receive very little fanfare. Without networking we wouldn’t have file sharing, LAN parties or even the Internet itself. Without routers and network adapters, we wouldn’t have networking.
ASUS recently sent a whole slew of networking components our way and we’ve decided to take them for a spin and see if they’re worth your hard earned dollars. Our box of ASUS goodies included:
- ASUS RT-N66U Gigabit Router – Dual Band Wireless-N900
- ASUS PCE-N10 - Wireless N PCI-E Adapter Wireless-N
- ASUS PCE-N15 - Wireless N PCI-E Adapter Wireless-N
- ASUS USB-N53 - Dual Band Wireless N Adapter
- ASUS USB-N66 - Dual Band Wireless-N900 Adapter
Without further ado, let’s jump in and tackle each one.
ASUS RT-N66U Gigabit Router – Dual Band Wireless-N900
Routers are one of those components that most of us don’t really think about unless something goes horribly wrong. Most people will buy one they find on a big box store shelf (or even worse, just use their ISP’s router), pull it out of the box, plug a few cables into it and then forget about it in a closet for a few years.
Subject: Networking | May 16, 2012 - 09:57 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wifi, router, networking, netgear, 802.11ac
Following up on the announcement by Buffalo Technology, Netgear has released their own 802.11ac wireless router, the R6300. (PC Perspective recently ran a giveaway for the R6300 which you can read about here). In addition to the flagship 802.11ac router, Netgear announced a slimmed down version–the R6200–and the A6200 WiFi USB dongle.
The Netgear R6300 is their highest end wireless router supporting the 802.11ac WiFi standard. It supports 802.11ac speeds up to 1300 Mbps (450 Mbps over wireless n) and is backwards compatible with the 802.11 a/b/g/n standards. It also has two USB 2.0 ports that can be used to share hard drive and printers across the network. Further, the “5G WiFI” router is powered by a Broadcom chipset, which should open the door to third part firmware(s).
In addition to the above router, Netgear has announced the R6200 wireless router. It is compatible with the upcoming 802.11ac standard, but at reduced speeds. It features approximately 900 Mbps transfer rates over the “ac” standard and up to 300 Mbps over the 802.11n standard. The router is backwards compatible with all the older consumer standards (a/b/g/n), and it features a single USB 2.0 port to share a printer or hard drive to computers on the LAN.
Last up in the announcement is the Netgear A6200. This device is a USB WiFi dongle that supports the 802.11ac standard as well as existing a/b/g/n networks. It claims to deliver enough speed for HD streaming of videos, though Netgear has not stated if it will be able to take advantage of the full 1300 Mbps theoretical maximum connection. The WiFi adapter features a swiveling antenna and a docking station for use with desktop systems.
The other neat feature that the new routers support is the Netgear Genie application, which allows users to monitor and control the network using an application on their computer or smartphone (iOS and Android). They also feature Netgear MyMedia, printer sharing, guest network access, a DLNA server, parental controls, and automatic WiFi security.
The Netgear R6300 router is available for purchase now with an MSRP of $199.99. The R6200 router and A6200 WiFi dongle will be available for purchase in Q3 2012 with suggested retail prices of $179.99 and $69.99 respectively.
Subject: Networking | May 15, 2012 - 05:38 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wireless, router, networking, ethernet bridge, buffalo, 802.11ac
Netgear and Buffalo have been working hard to build and get to market new wireless routers based on the 802.11ac (pending ratification) standard. PC Perspective recently ran a giveaway for the Netgear 802.11ac router, but it seems that Buffalo has managed to beat them to market with their new gear. In fact, Buffalo yesterday released two 802.11ac devices with the AirStation™ WZR-D1800H wireless router and WLI-H4-D1300 wireless Ethernet bridge. Both devices are powered by Broadcom’s 5G WiFi chips (what Broadcom refers to 802.11ac as–the fifth generation of consumer WiFi) and based around the IEEE standard that is set to become an official standard early next year.
The Buffalo 802.11ac Router (left: front, right: rear view)
The router and Ethernet bridge both support the upcoming 802.11ac standard as well as the current 802.11 b, g, and n standards so they are backwards compatible with all your devices. They also support all the normal functions of any other router or bridge device–the draft support for 802.11ac is what differentiates these products. The router stands vertically and has a router reset and USB eject buttons, one USB 2.0 port, four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, and one Gigabit Ethernet WAN port. Below the WAN port is a power button and DC in jack. The Buffalo Ethernet bridge allows users to connect Ethernet devices to a network over WiFi. It looks very similar to the router but does not have a WAN port or USB port on the back. It also does not act as a router, only a bridge to a larger network. The largest downside to the Ethernet bridge is pricing: (although out of stock now) Newegg has the bridge listed for the same price as the full fledged router. At that point, it does not have much value–users would be better off buying two routers and disabling the router features on one (and because the Broadcom chipset should enable custom firmwares, this should be possible soon).
The Buffalo 802.11ac Ethernet Bridge (left: front, right: rear view)
What makes these two devices interesting though is the support for the “5G WiFi” 802.11ac wireless technology. This is the first time that the Wireless connections have a (granted, theoretical) higher transfer speed than the wired connections, which is quite the feat. 802.11ac is essentially 802.11n but with several improvements and only operating on channels in the 5GHz spectrum. The pending standard also uses wider 80 Mhz or 160 MHz channels, 256 QAM modulation, and up to eight antennas (much like 802.11n’s MIMO technology) to deliver much faster wireless transfer rates than consumers have had available previously. The other big technology with the upcoming WiFi standard is beamforming. This allows wireless devices to communicate with their access point(s) to determine relative spatial position. That data is then used to adjust the transmitted signals such that it is sent in the direction of the access point at the optimum power levels. This approach is different to traditional WiFi devices that broadcast omni-directionally (think big circular waves coming out of your router) because the signals are more focused. By focusing the signals, users get better range and can avoid WiFi deadspots.
Hajime Nakai, Chief Executive Officer at Buffalo Technology stated that “along with Broadcom, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to innovation by providing a no-compromise, future proofed wireless infrastructure for consumers’ digital worlds.”
The Buffalo AirStation™ WZR-D1800H router and WLI-H4-D1300 Ethernet bridge are available for purchase now for around $179.99 USD. The Ethernet bridge is listed as out of stock on Newegg; however, the router is still available (and the better value).
Subject: Networking | April 18, 2012 - 10:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wi-fi, qualcomm, networking, killer, Ethernet
Qualcomm Atheros today launched two new networking cards for the desktop and laptop markets. A subsidiary company of Qualcomm (formerly Killer Networks), the Wireless-N 1202 and E2200 provides Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity based on Killer Networks’ technology.
The Wireless-N 1202 is a 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module with 2x2 MIMO antennas which should provide plenty of Wireless N range. On the wired side of things the E2200 is a Gigabit Ethernet network card for desktop computers. Both modules are powered by Killer Network’s chip and the Killer Network Manager software. The software will allow users to prioritize gaming, audio, and video packets over other network traffic to deliver the best performance. Director of Business Development Mike Cubbage had the following to say.
“These products create an unprecedented entertainment and real-time communications experience for the end user by ensuring that critical online applications get the bandwidth and priority they need, when they need it.”
The E2200 Gigabit Ethernet NIC is available for purchase now, and the Wireless-N 1202 module will go on sale in May. More specific information on the products will be available after the official launch date (today) so stay tuned to PC Perspective.
Subject: Networking | March 16, 2012 - 05:58 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte, wdm, networking, fiber optics, 1.7tbps
Chinese telecommunications provider ZTE showed off a new fiber optic network capable of 1.7 Tbps over a single fiber cable. Computer World reports that the ZTE network trial utilizes Wavelength Division Multiplexing technology to pack more information through a single cable by employing multiple wavelengths that comprise different channels.
The ZTE fiber network runs 1,750 kilometers (just over 1,087 miles) and uses eight channels- each capable of 216.4 Gbps- to send data at speeds up to 1.7312 Tbps. The company has no immediate plans to implement such a network. Rather, they wanted to prove that an upgrade to 200 Gbps per channel speeds is possible. To put their achievement in perspective, Comcast currently has fiber networks running at 10 Gbps, 40 Gbps, and 100 Gbps channel speeds, according to an article on Viodi.
And to think that I only recently upgraded to a Gigabit router! I can't wait to see this technology trickle down towards a time when home networks are running through fiber optic cables and doing so at terabit per second speeds!
Image courtesy kainet via Flickr Creative Commons.
Subject: Networking | August 4, 2011 - 02:01 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: security, networking, cyber warfare
Computer World posted a short news piece quoting the former director of the CIA’s Counter-terrorism Center Cofer Black as he explained why Cyberthreats needs to be taken more seriously by the nation. Cofer Black played a key role during the first term of the George W. Bush administration and was one of the counter-terrorism experts made aware of a likely attack on American soil prior to the September 11th attacks.
Black noted that the people in a position with the power to act on these warnings were unwilling to act without some measure of validation. He goes on to say that while the general public was blindsided by the September 11th attacks, “I can tell that neither myself nor my people in counter-terrorism were surprised at all.”
With cyber warfare becoming increasingly utilized as an attack vector to foreign adversaries, the need for quick responses to threats will only increase. Further, the demand on security professionals to search for and validate threats for those in power to enact a response will be a major issue in the coming years. “The escalatory nature of such threats is often not understood or appreciated until they are validate,” Black offered in regards to the challenges decision makers face. He believes that the decision makers do listen to the threats; however, they do not believe them. This behavior, he believes, will hinder the US’ ability to properly respond to likely threats.
With the recent announcement by the Department of Defense that physical retaliation to Internet based attacks (in addition to counter attacks) may be necessary, the need to quickly respond to likely threats proactively is all the more imperative. Do you believe tomorrows battles will encompass the digital plane as much as real life?
Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2011 - 07:29 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: torrent, tech, networking, jstor
In light of Aaron Swartz’s recent legal trouble involving charges being brought against him for downloading academic papers from the online pay-walled database called JSTOR using MIT’s computer network, a bittorrent user named Greg Maxwell has decided to fight back against publishers who charge for access to academic papers by releasing 18,592 academic papers to the public in a 32.48 gigabyte torrent uploaded to The Pirate Bay.
Maxwell claims that the torrent consists of documents from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society journal. According to Gigaom, the copyrights on these academic papers have been expired for some time; however, the only way to access these documents have been through the pay-walled JSTOR database where individual articles can cost as much as $19. While Maxwell claims to have gained access to the papers many years prior through legal means (likely through a college or library’s database access), he has been fearful of releasing the documents due to legal repercussions from the journal’s publishers. He claims that the legal troubles that Swartz is facing for (allegedly) downloading the JSTOR library has fueled his passion and changed his mind about not releasing them.
Maxwell justifies the release by stating that the authors and universities do not benefit from their work, and the move to a digital distribution method has yet to coincided with a reduction in prices. In the past the high cost (sometimes paid by the authors) has been such to cover the mechanical process of binding and printing the journals. Maxwell further states that to his knowledge, the money those wishing to verify their facts and learn more from these academic works “serves little significant purpose except to perpetuate dead business models.” The pressure and expectation that authors must publish or face irrelevancy further entrenches the publisher’s business models.
Further, GigaOm quoted Maxwell in stating:
“If I can remove even one dollar of ill-gained income from a poisonous industry which acts to suppress scientific and historic understanding, then whatever personal cost I suffer will be justified . . . it will be one less dollar spent in the war against knowledge. One less dollar spent lobbying for laws that make downloading too many scientific papers a crime.”
Personally, I’m torn on the ethics of the issue. On one hand, these academic papers should be made available for free (or at least at cost of production) to anyone that wants them as they are written for the betterment of humanity and pursuit of knowledge (or at least as a thought provoking final paper). On the other hand, releasing the database via a torrent has it’s own issues. As far as non-violent protests go, this is certainly interesting and likely to get the attention of the publishers and academics. Whether it will cause them to reevaluate their business models; however, is rather doubtful (and unfortunate).
Image courtesy Isabelle Palatin.
Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2011 - 04:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: networking, voip, google
The Gmail blog recently showed off a new feature that allows you to put one call on hold while accepting another, a feature that standard phones have had for a long time now. Inside Gmail, you are able to start a call to another computer or a physical phone and then you are free to place this call on hold by hitting the “hold” button. When you wish to return to the call, you simply hit the “Resume” button- just like a normal phone. When a second person calls you, you will be asked to accept or reject it, and if you accept the call the first call will automatically be placed on hold.
According to Google, the call hold feature “works across all call types (voice, video, and phone)” and the only caveat is a limit of two outgoing calls to physical phones can be active at a time. The only feature I see missing from this function is integration with Google Music that would allow me to set up custom hold music to the chagrin to telemarketers and customer support everywhere. After all, it is almost a Friday and everyone would just love to hear some Rebecca Black, right!?
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 20, 2011 - 03:24 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: simulator, networking, Internet, cyber warfare
Our world is the host to numerous physical acts of aggression every day, and until a few years ago those acts have remained in the (relatively) easily comprehensible physical world. However, the millions of connected servers and clients that overlay the numerous nations around the world have rapidly become host to what is known as “cyber warfare,” which amounts to subversion and attacks against another people or nation through electronic means-- by attacking its people or its electronic and Internet-based infrastructure.
While physical acts of aggression are easier to examine (and gather evidence) and attribute to the responsible parties, attacks on the Internet are generally the exact opposite. Thanks to the anonymity of the Internet, it is much more difficult to determine the originator of the attack. Further, the ethical debate of whether physical actions in the form of military action is appropriate in response to online attacks comes into question.
It seems as though the Pentagon is seeking the answers to the issues of attack attribution and appropriate retaliation methods through the usage of an Internet simulator dubbed the National Cyber Range. According to Computer World, two designs for the simulator are being constructed by Lockheed Martin with a $30.8 million USD grant and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory with a $24.7 million USD grant provided by DARPA.
The National Cyber Range is to be designed to mimic human behavior in response to various DefCon and InfoCon (Informational Operations Condition) levels. It will allow the Pentagon and authorized parties to study the effectiveness of war plan execution as it simulates offensive and defensive actions on the scale of nation-backed levels of cyber warfare. Once the final National Cyber Range design has been chosen by DARPA from the two competing projects (by Johns Hopkins and Lockheed Martin), the government would be able to construct a toolkit that would allow them to easily transfer and conduct cyber warfare testing from any facility.
Image cortesy Kurtis Scaletta via Flickr Creative Commons.
Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2011 - 01:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: US, technology, networking, IT
The US has seen a rather rapid rise in unemployment in the last few years as companies cut back on staff and computing costs. According to Computer World, Tom Silver has been quoted in saying “several years ago companies cut back pretty far, particularly in infrastructure and technology development.” Silver further believes that the tech unemployment rate is half that of the national unemployment rate due to companies needing to replace aging hardware, software, and deal with increased security threats. 65% of 900 respondents in a recent biannual hiring survey conducted by Dice.com found that hiring managers and head hunters plan on bringing even more new workers into their businesses in the second half of 2011 versus the first half.
Workers with mobile operating system, hardware, and ecosystem expertise and java development skills are the most desirable technology workers, according to Computer World. Although anyone with an IT background and recent programming skills have a fairly good chance of acquiring jobs in a market that is demanding now-rare talent. Employers are starting to be more confident in the economy and thus are more willing to invest in new workers. In an era where Internet security is more important that ever, skilled enterprise IT workers are becoming a valuable asset to employers, who are increasingly fighting for rare talent and incentivizing new workers with increased salaries.
Even though businesses are still remaining cautious in their new hiring endeavors, it is definitely a good sign for people with tech backgrounds who are looking for work as the market is ever so slowly starting to bounce back. For further information on the study, Computer World has the full scoop here.
Are you in or studying to enter into the IT profession? Do you feel confident in the US employers' valuation of their IT workers?