Subject: Editorial, General Tech | July 13, 2013 - 07:24 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wireless, spectrum, leap wireless, cricket, AT&T, acquisition, 4g lte
AT&T Plans To Acquire Leap Wireless (Cricket)
In a counter move to the SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire merger, AT&T has announced its intentions to buy out Leap Wireless and its Cricket pre-paid cell service brand. AT&T will pay as much as $15 per share, which amounts to a bit under $1.19 billion (79.05 million outstanding shares at $15 per share). Before the announcement, Leap Wireless was trading at less than $8, so the bid is fairly generous. So far, approximately 30% of shareholders have voted to accept the buyout offer.
In the buyout deal, AT&T will acquire Leap Wireless, its Cricket brand in the US, licenses, spectrum, Cricket brand, 3,400 employees, and its retail locations. Cricket currently has a 3G CDMA network and is rolling out a 4G network. The company has about 5 million subscribers. AT&T will get to add a bit more spectrum to its portfolio in the PCS and AWS bands. This spectrum held by Leap Wireless is reportedly complementary to AT&T’s existing licenses.
Interestingly Leap Wireless is not doing very well, and has about $2.8 billion in net debt, and its Cricket service is loosing subscribers. AT&T would also have to assume that debt. Cricket offers up unlimited plans that include unlimited voice calls, texting, and data. AT&T has stated that it would assume control of and maintain the Cricket brand. It will continue to offer service to existing Cricket customers and would also offer up its own 4G LTE network for use by Cricket pre-paid plans (phone hardware permitting). AT&T stated in a press release that it intends to use the Leap Wireless acquisition to “jump start AT&T’s expansion into the highly competitive prepaid segment.”
The buyout deal will need to be approved by Leap Wireless as well as by the US Department of Justice and FCC. If it successfully passes through the various regulatory bodies, AT&T expects the deal to close within the next six to nine months.
Personally, I have my doubts that AT&T will continue to maintain the Cricket service as is, especially when it comes to unlimited data. As far as its pre-paid expansion, it at least tried to go down this path before with its line of Go phones. I believe that this deal is mostly about padding out AT&T’s spectrum portfolio in a bid to head off Sprint, and maintain its position against T-Mobile and Verizon. The MVNO and pre-paid market is certainly growing and AT&T is going to want a piece of that market, but I also think that the last thing AT&T wants to do is cannibalize its own contract offerings by offering up a similar pre-paid service with unlimited everything for half the price. Sure, AT&T will take it versus getting nothing, but the company is going to have a hard time balancing both offerings in a way that does not negatively effect one or both of its pre-paid and post paid services.
What do you think about the deal, is this a good thing for Cricket customers? Is AT&T serious about wanting to jump into the pre-paid market?
ASUS RT-N56U Wireless Router Review
On deck for review today is the ASUS RT-N56U “Black Diamond” Dual-band Gigabit Wireless-N Router. ASUS has a broad stable of networking equipment including wireless adapters, wireless routers, wired networking gear and even some power line networking gear. Released in late 2010, the RT-N56U is one of the lower cost offerings in ASUS’ Dual Band N series and can be found online for around $99.
ASUS RT-N56U Wireless-N Router Overview
The media review information supplied to us by ASUS claims the ASUS RT-N56U “Black Diamond” offers “Extreme performance in style.” The router’s “Aesthetic design” has a “Sexy and stylish approach with streamlined, meticulously designed and well-rounded appearance, just like diamonds sparkling and twinkling in the dark.” Now I don’t know about you, but if it’s dark, I’m not sure how you see diamond’s twinkling? But I digress; the RT-N56U is a great looking router, with the black cross hatched lattice surface we liked from previous ASUS routers.
Subject: General Tech, Networking | November 15, 2012 - 12:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: WiFox, wireless
The short blurb at Slashdot makes WiFox sound more impressive than the actual implementation will be, but for anyone who has attempted to connect to WiFi at a tech show would love to see this new software appear on wireless access points. Once a channel becomes crowded by multiple users, especially if they use devices which like to have a constant connection, the network will hit a point of saturation and the performance of every device on the network will suffer; not just the most recently connected devices. WiFox is a piece of software which can monitor channel saturation and when it is reached it will immediately assign all available bandwidth to the WAP and allow it to transmit all backlogged data before then allocating bandwidth back to the devices ... clearing the tubes as it were. It sounds like this will be easily added to existing WAPs instead of only being available to the next generation of devices so while your WAN will not suddenly become 700 times faster, the WiFi at next conference you go to might just be usable for a change.
"Engineers at NC State University (NCSU) have discovered a way of boosting the throughput of busy WiFi networks by up to 700%. Perhaps most importantly, the breakthrough is purely software-based, meaning it could be rolled out to existing WiFi networks relatively easily — instantly improving the throughput and latency of the network. As wireless networking becomes ever more prevalent, you may have noticed that your home network is much faster than the WiFi network at the airport or a busy conference center. The primary reason for this is that a WiFi access point, along with every device connected to it, operates on the same wireless channel."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Texas Instruments sheds 1,700 staff in smartphone retreat @ The Register
- The Xeon Phi at work at TACC @ AnandTech
- Interview with Netgears Rob Wells @ Hardwareheave
- 3-D Tools: Amazing Programs for Product Design @ TechwareLabs
- Kinected Browser Lets You Flick Through Websites @ Slashdot
- 1000 HAWKEN Beta Key Give Away From TechwareLabs and Mushkin
Amped Wireless R20000G and UA2000 Introduction
Continuing with our networking adapter and router reviews, today we have a pair of devices on tap from a relative newcomer to the home and office networking field, Amped Wireless. Founded in 2007, they began selling Wi-Fi products in 2010. In those 2 years they’ve already pushed out a wide array of Routers, Range Extenders, Access Points, USB Adapters and Antennas/Boosters. While they don’t have the history of Cisco, Netgear or D-Link, it’s great to see new companies entering the fray as more competition can only benefit the consumer.
Today we’re looking at their flagship High Power Router, the Wireless-N 600mw Gigabit Dual Band R20000G as well as one of their leading USB adapters, the High Power Wireless-N Directional Dual Band UA2000. List price for the router and adapter is $169 and $99 respectively, but the router and adapter can be found online for about $10 less each at Newegg.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 29, 2012 - 07:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: wireless power, wireless charging, wireless, Intel, Integrated Device Technology, charging
The wireless transfer of power, in order to recharge your mobile devices has been something that has fascinated the staff at PC Perspective for a while now. You can get toothbrushes which charge via inductance and even as far back as 2010 there were projects underway to allow cellphones to recharge without needing a wire and more importantly without needing the correct plug! More recently, the Wireless Power Consortium was a presenter at CES 2012, where they showed Matt their Qi, a coil-based charging solution capable of delivering up to 5W at a distance of 5mm, not enough to charge your phone in pocket but certainly reasonable for a charging mat. They are working on a 10W model and hope to extend it up to 120W which would be enough to power a low end PC.
Today Intel released information on their long standing wireless power technology and their new development partner, Integrated Device Technology, Inc. They intend to develop this technology on chipsets, so that a cellphone placed next to an Ultrabook would begin to wirelessly recharge without input from you. One assumes that this would not apply to a system running off of a critical battery, though the idea of being able to drain power from an unsuspecting user could lead to some interesting pranks. Check the full release below.
Even Captain Kirk would have raised an eyebrow at the prospect of wireless charging on board the Enterprise, and he probably would have given Scotty a raise! But today it’s a step closer to reality for all of us not zipping around the universe at warp speed. Demoed by Intel Labs for the first time way back in 2008, Wireless Charging Technology (WCT) by Intel literally lets you charge your smartphone wirelessly from your notebook PC. That’s right — no cables, no power cords. Of course Intel is no stranger to wireless technologies, launching Centrino mobile technology nearly a decade ago. Imagine a coffee shop without Wifi today?
Today Integrated Device Technology, Inc. (IDT) – a technology company with specialized expertise in wireless charging - announced it will develop and deliver chipsets for Wireless Charging Technology by Intel. IDT’s product is important and new because it leads to a solution that isn’t limited to inductive charging and ‘smartphone on a charging mat’ usage. Size and cost reductions are key to IDT’s solution, as is their differentiated “resonance wireless charging technology” that simplifies the way the PC charges the phone wirelessly. Intel is working with companies like IDT, peripheral vendors (from smartphone cases to printers and cameras), OEMs, and other ecosystem partners to deliver a cost-effective and simpler path to wireless charging.
Although we are not yet giving out timeframes for consumer products with WCT enabled, IDT has stated they will be delivering their full chipset solution for reference design work in early 2013. The ecosystem is already excited about this technology so we assume there will be a race to the finish line for sure.
Imagine, for example, this wireless charging solution in an Ultrabook of the future. How would it work? You are low on juice on your phone — you simply start the WCT detection software and place the smartphone close to your Ultrabook (about an inch or so). Coupling takes place between the two devices and energy begins to seamlessly and wirelessly flow from the Ultrabook to the smartphone. Within an hour, you have recharged your smartphone sufficiently to make it through the afternoon. No more wires or chargers.
Intel will be discussing specific plans and timelines at a later date, so stay tuned for more details on this innovation that’s one step closer from the labs to your home.
Subject: Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 01:54 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wireless, gaming laptop, gaming, computex, ASUS ROG, asus, 802.11ac, 5GHz wifi
Earlier today we posted a couple of teaser photos showing off some of ASUS’ upcoming products. One of the devices was a gaming laptop called the ASUS G75. Engadget has managed to get their hands on some more information regarding a variant of the G75 – the G75VW. According to the site, the gaming laptop is rocking an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, GeForce GTX 670M, and DDR3 memory (known because of the CPU used). That hardware is then powering a 1080p display, which the GTX 670M should have no problem driving but is a bit depressing to see on a high end laptop of this size (approximately 17”). The real kicker though is in the wireless card that it is allegedly packing: an 802.11ac card.
The ASUS G75 gaming laptop
Engadget states that although the information sheet next to the laptop at ASUS’ Computex booth did not list any 802.11ac compatibility, wireless chip maker Broadcom (manufacturer of chips that are used in many wireless routers and NICs) has stated that it does in fact have an 802.11ac NIC in it. Senior Vice President Michael Hurlston told members of the press at Computex 2012 that the ASUS G75VW is the “World’s first 5G Wi-Fi laptop.” He further stated that the computer would be arriving in the hands of consumers “very shortly.”
Interesting stuff, and although the “5G Wi-Fi” – so called because it is the fifth generation of consumer grade Wi-Fi (though not the 5th gen if you count all iterations of the wireless 802.11 standards) – is not yet official and set in stone, it is very close and I would not be surprised to see the technology in a laptop like this particular ASUS at this point in the game.
And to think that I just got done upgrading my network to Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n about two months ago! Even so, I’m excited for the upcoming standard because I want to test its usefulness in getting live TV from my CableCARD tuner to the living room and Katy’s wireless laptop without stuttering – something even wireless N with MIMO can’t do with devices in the same room. So far, the only thing stable enough has been wired Cat5e Ethernet (both 100Mbps and 1000Mbps hardware seem to work without issues). And because it’s proving difficult to get a wired connection from the router to the TV (Xbox 360 used as Windows Media Extender), I’m ready to try out some 802.11ac stuff to see if it can really deliver on the increased bandwidth!
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).
Podcast #188 - Featuring David Hewlett - White Space Wireless, AMD and NVIDIA GPU roadmaps, Hard Drives with lasers and more!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 9, 2012 - 04:08 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: wireless, whitespace, ssd, podcast, nvidia, mdt, intel 520, Intel, gpu, APU, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #188 - 02/09/2012
Join us this week as we talk about White Space Wireless, AMD and NVIDIA GPU roadmaps, Hard Drives with lasers and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malvantano, and David Hewlett
This Podcast is brought to you by
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
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- 0:01:30 Introduction with David
- Okay, seriously, how nerdy are you really?
- What kind of hardware systems and specs do you have?
- What games are you playing today?
- 0:13:25 AMD Processor and GPU Roadmaps Through 2013
- 0:28:30 Galaxy MDT GeForce GT 520 Graphics Card Review
- 0:32:00 Intel 520 Series SSD Full Review - SandForce on Steroids?
- 0:43:00 This Podcast is brought to you by
, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
- 0:45:05 White Space Wireless Discussion
- 0:56:00 Increased Hard Drive Write Speed and Density - Using Frickin' Lasers
- 1:02:00 An academic collaboration leads to a GPU/CPU collaboration
- 1:07:25 AMD shows 18mm thin reference ultrathin notebook based on Trinity
- 1:11:05 Tablets / Ultrabooks in Schools
- 1:16:45 NVIDIA Kepler Graphics Cards Lineup Leak To Web
- 1:22:30 PC Perspective Office Tour - Feb 6th, 2012
- 1:26:40 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
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Subject: Mobile | January 13, 2012 - 02:27 PM | Matt Smith
Tagged: CES, wireless power, wireless, tablet, smartphone, mobile, charging
Where was the most interesting technology at CES? Intel’s booth? Nope. Nvidia’s booth? Guess again. Perhaps you could find it at Qualcomm’s stand? Guess again.
If you ask me, the most interesting technology was tucked away in the back of the lower level of the South Hall, which is where you’ll find smaller companies and organizations that have decided to forgo a normal booth and instead just rent out space for a meeting room. That’s where you’ll find The Wireless Power Consortium and its Qi wireless power standard.
Wireless power is exactly what it sounds like. You may have already heard of the charging mats made available by companies like Energizer. These allow users to charge a smartphone simply by placing them in the right location, forgetting about cords entirely.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But there’s been a problem with them – until recently, they’ve all been proprietary. You had to use a special charging case to get the mats to work with your phone and that case wouldn’t work with competing products. You also were limited to charging in your home (or wherever you place the charging mat) which kind of defeats the point.
To fix this, there must be a standard, and that’s what The Wireless Power Consortium has created. It’s called Qi, and it’s a coil-based charging solution that can be implemented in all sorts of mobile devices. Currently the standard can handle up to 5 watts and can work within 5mm, but both of these figures are to be expanded. New technology that can handle 10 watts is being tested, and the hope is for 120 watts to be achievable in the near future. That would allow for wireless charging of PCs and appliances.
But enough about the specifications. Why am I excited about Qi? Let me explain.
Many current smartphones have mini-USB ports for one reason only – charging. Everything else, from syncing music to downloading files, can be achieved through a wireless connection. If that port could be removed entirely, it would allow for more design flexibility. Take the current Droid Razr, for example. It is extremely thin except for a bulge that houses the camera and the ports. If you could charge your phone wirelessly, designers would have one less port to design around.
Battery life is another part of this equation. As technology in our mobile devices continues to improve at an amazing rate, battery technology doesn’t seem able to keep up. I know – I own a HTC Thunderbolt. My phone has notoriously bad battery life with 4G LTE enabled.
One solution is to make batteries bigger, but that increases weight, size and cost. Wireless power offers an alternative – make charging easier and more frequent. If you had wireless power in your car, at work and at home, your phone could easily maintain a high level of charge. And since it’s wireless, you don’t have to do anything except place your phone in the right place.
The Wireless Power Consortium booth – er, meeting room – had some interesting examples to show me. One was a table with a built-in Qi compatible charger that can be deployed at restaurants, coffee shops and other places. In fact, some such tables can already be found in Japan and China. They number only in the hundreds, but it’s start.
For our Asian friends, who use more public transportation and tend to live in more densely packed cities, charging tables make a lot of sense. But here in North America we tend to get around with our own private vehicles. To help the standard get traction here, The Wireless Power Consortium is working with auto manufacturers to place wireless charging in automobiles. They hope that we’ll see it offered in a few vehicles starting the 2013 model year.
There are a lot of pieces that need to find their place in order for Qi to really take off, but they at least have the necessary partners including big names like Motorola and Texas Instruments, among many others. Keep an eye on this over the next year – it could end up being a true game changer.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2011 - 02:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: killer nic, bigfoot, wireless, Killer-N 1102
The KillerNIC has had an odd relationship with the PC world, with most reviewers initial impression being that of a solution in search of a problem. In some cases when a person wanted to get fancy with downloading torrents, especially when they were gaming online at the same time, the initial product did offer some advantages. From there it found its self integrated onto some high end motherboards, offering more features than a regular gigabit NIC but again offering limited benefits.
New to the market is the Bigfoot Killer-N 1102 Wireless N device, integrated into some new laptops. AnandTech had a chance to try it out; once they could determine a way to review a wireless device. Finally it seems that BigFoot managed to knock one out of the park, the performance was significantly better than what is offered by the current generic wireless NICs present in most laptops. Check out why it is such an improvement in their full review.
"With that out of the way, let’s discuss what Bigfoot brings to the table, specifically with their Killer 1102 part. Note that there is a faster Killer 1103 part now shipping with 3x3:3 MIMO support; we will try to get a sample for future testing, but for now we’ll confine our benchmarks to the 1102. The core hardware actually comes from a well-known wireless networking company, Atheros. The 1102 uses the AR9382 wireless chipset, but Bigfoot has added their own “special sauce” to improve performance."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Embedded SSDs go connector-less @ SemiAccurate
- ZAVIO F3106 Wireless IP Camera Review @ Real World Labs
- Firm offers 1,000 year discs that use a special optical drive @ The Inquirer
- Fake Firefox update bundles Trojan add-on @ The Register
- Google promises fix for jittery Usenet addicts @ The Register
- Ninjalane Podcast - Overclocking Motherboard Design Video Card Selection
- Weekly Giveaway #10: Thermaltake TR2 700W and TR2 600W Power Supplies @ eTeknix
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