CES 2017: D-Link Launches New Wi-Fi Routers and Extenders

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2017 - 04:10 AM |
Tagged: wifi, D-Link, CES 2017, CES, 802.11ac

D-Link recently announced two new Covr branded wireless products that promise to blanket homes in Wi-Fi and eliminate dead spots. The Covr Wi-Fi System is a D-Link DIR-883 router and DAP-1655 extender kit while the Covr Powerline Wi-Fi System is a kit with two Wi-Fi equipped DHP-W730AV Powerline Ethernet adapters. The two kits are sold separately as are additional access points and powerline adapters to extend the network further.

The Covr Wi-Fi System will use a traditional hub and spoke setup with the extenders connecting directly to the central router. However, a promised future update will allegedly add mesh networking capabilities where the extenders can speak to other extenders allowing users to, well, extend the network further (at reduced bandwidth though) and/or improve spotty coverage.

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The DIR-883 and DAP-1655 support 802.11ac with MU-MIMO. Reportedly, the kit supports Qualcomm Technologies' Wi-Fi SON (Self Organizing Network) technology along with Smart Steering which boils down to technology that allows automatic load balancing between the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, traffic prioritization, and a single SSID that allows end devices to connect to whichever router or extender offers the best signal. The router supports 4x4 802.11ac and speeds up to 1733 MHz on the 5GHz and 800 MHz on the 2.4 GHz band while the extender supports 2x2 802.11ac with speeds up to 867 MHz (5 GHz) and 400 MHz (2.4 GHz). If it follows the same modes as the existing DAP-1665, it should support access point, bridge, and repeater modes though the specifications page does not detail this yet.

The benefit to this type of setup/kit is ease of use. In fact, the router and extender come pre-paired out of the box and while you can use existing wired connections as the backhaul to extend the wireless network for best performance, if you can't do that you can use repeater mode to extend the network without needing to lay new Ethernet or use MoCA/Powerline (at reduced performance). It is also a complete kit in that it comes with the router and access point(s) in the box.

Alternatively (or in addition to if you really want to get crazy with multiple extenders and adapters say in a multi-story or long ranch style home) the Covr Powerline Wi-Fi System is a kit that you can use to extend your existing wired home network to provide Wi-Fi (and wired Ethernet) to any location in your home with an electrical outlet. The specific adapters that D-Link uses (DHP-W730AV) each have two wireless antennas and three Gigabit Ethernet ports. Using Powerline AV2 MIMO technology (it can use any two of the three electrical connections, positive, negative, groud; whichever gets the best connection), the adapters are rated at speeds up to 1300 Mbps. (Note that you will see much less than this in real world speeds, and that this is the internal Powerline throughput number, and even if it was perfect (clean wiring, no interference, ect), it would be limited by the 1000 Mbps Ethernet ports and wireless connections. That overhead is needed though, because as you add additional powerline adapters, throughput is going to drop because the internet network is hub-like rather than switched.) D-Link claims the adapters offer roaming for devices, load balancing between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, and a simplified single-button security setup (though if possible you should manually create a network key rather than use the defaults).

D-Link Covr Powerline Wi-Fi System.png

The benefit to this kit is that you can bolt it onto your existing home network and/or simply pick your own router and switch if you want to unlike the other Covr kit. Using a wired backbone is also, at least in theory, more stable and performant than a wireless connection back to the router or worse an intermediary device (e.g. a true mesh setup).

As far as pricing and availability, the Covr Wi-Fi System and Covr Powerline Wi-Fi System will be available by Q2 2017 for $299.99 and $199 respectively.

Pricing seems to be okay for MSRPs and is certainly better than the $470 that D-Link wanted for the kit it announced at last year's CES! The powerline kit does seem to be on the expensive side to me but is not totally out of the ballpark of what I've seen. It is always good to have more options for home networking, and hopefully reviews will start trickling in as they get closer to launch.

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CES 2016: D-Link Shows Off New DIR-A91 Router and Extender Bundle

Subject: Networking | January 6, 2016 - 06:14 PM |
Tagged: wifi extender, mu-mimo, D-Link, 802.11ac

D-Link is using CES to show off several new bits of consumer networking gear including the upcoming DIR-A91 router and a bundled Wi-Fi extender. The Verge was able to get several photos of the networking gear which are available here. Exact specifications are not yet available (D-Link does not have product pages up yet, either), but according to The Verge the DIR-A91 and the DAP-1655 Wi-Fi booster will set you back $470 and will be available in the second half of the year.

D-Link DIR-A91 Router and Wi-Fi Booster.jpg

Looking at the photos, the DIR-A91 is a smaller version of top end AC3200 and AC3150 routers. It supports 802.11ac with beamforming and will eventually support MU-MIMO with a firmware update. It offers up five RJ45 ports (4 LAN, 1 WAN) and a single USB port. Both the Wi-Fi router and extender each have four external antennas.

The router further supports up to eight of the Wi-Fi extenders (though the bundle only comes with one, they will be sold individually as well)  which appear to connect via Ethernet and provide an additional access point. It is not clear if they are alternatively capable of acting as a repeater (connecting to the router over wireless and then offering a new access point).

The price ($470!) is rather steep in my opinion, but if the performance is there the router and extender bundle may be a better option than a single super-router (like the 8 antenna arachnid monsters from ASUS, D-Link, Linksys, et al) for some people if you can run Ethernet to your other floors or the other end of the house (although Powerline Ethernet may be an option it'd be a bottleneck).

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Source: The Verge

CES 2015: D-Link Powerline Networking Adapters

Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 6, 2015 - 02:33 AM |
Tagged: D-Link, CES, ces 2015, powerline networking

Yesterday, D-Link announced two new gigabit-class powerline networking adapters. Powerline networking, which sends a signal between A/C outlets, is for users who want high-bandwidth connections in places that WiFi does not reach and running a cable is out of the question. The SKUs are basically identical, except that the DHP-601AV has a maximum rated bandwidth of 1,000 Mbps, while the DHP-701AV can go up to 2,000 Mbps... sort of.

d-link-powerline-networking.jpg

You see, unless I am completely misreading the specifications, the only way into this device is a single Gigabit Ethernet socket. The technical difference is that the higher-end model can use the ground plug as a network path, presumably balancing between the “two powered” and the “one power, one ground” circuits based on line quality. That is interesting technology that will help in situations where a gigabit link cannot normally be maintained on a two-prong network but, if it is behind a gigabit bottleneck, that is kind-of not right to advertise, isn't it?

Again, I could be wrong, but the specs seem to claim one, single-socket, Gigabit Ethernet plug.

As for pricing and availability, D-Link does not disappoint. The D-Link AV2 PowerLine Starter Kits will be available in Q1 of this year. The DHP-701AV has an MSRP of $129.99 while the DHP-601AV is set at $79.99.

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D-Link DGL-5500 Dual Band 802.11ac Gaming Router Available Now For $200

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2013 - 03:50 AM |
Tagged: wireless router, qualcomm, gigabit router, dual band, dgl-5500, D-Link, 802.11ac

Earlier this year, D-Link launched a new 802.11ac wireless router called the DGL-5500 that featured specialized Quality of Service (QoS) designed for gamers. The DGL-5500 is a black cylindrical piece of networking kit measuring 9.8” x 6.5” x 2.8”.

The D-Link DGL-5500 is comprised of a four port Gigabit Ethernet switch, dual band wireless access point supporting 802.11a/b/g/n/ac on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, Gigabit WAN port, a single USB 2.0 port for drive sharing, and D-Link’s custom firmware that provides routing, firewall, and QoS functionality. The QoS engine is powered by a Qualcomm developed technology called StreamBoost which optimizes traffic on both an application and device basis. The wireless router is further able to download application profiles from the Internet that are used to automatically configure the QoS' traffic shaping priorities for those apps.

D-Link DGL-5500.png

D-Link is rating the wireless throughput of the DGL-5500 router at 450 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867 Mbps on the 5GHz band. Please note that D-Link brands the router as AC1300 but in practice users will not see 1300mbps throughput (to a single device) as you cannot combine both bands. You can use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands for various devices on your network and get a sort-of total network throughput (between router and multiple devices on both bands), however, which is where the “AC1300” and various Gigabit wireless marketing terms come from (D-Link is not alone in using terms that add up the two bands, even though a single device can’t hit that throughput figure).

D-Link DGL-5500 Rear IO Gigabit Switch.png

The D-Link DGL-5500 is available now in the United States from D-Link and various retailers for a MSRP of $200. For example, Amazon, Newegg, and Tiger Direct all have the 802.11ac router listed for $199.99 (although it is currently out of stock on Amazon).

Source: D-Link

Qualcomm announces "Streamboost" to give your Home Network some Brains

Subject: Networking | January 4, 2013 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: streamboost, qualcomm, qos, D-Link, ces 2013, alienware

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With CES right around the corner, we’re about to be buried in a deluge of announcements from consumer electronics vendors.  Since I was not able to get out to CES in person this year, Qualcomm offered to give me a sneak peek at their new “Streamboost” technology they’ve just announced and will be showing at CES.  I got to spend some time on the phone with Ciera Jammal, their PR rep and Michael Cubbage, Director of Business Development in their networking unit.  For those of you that may not recognize Michael’s name, he was one of the co-founders of Bigfoot Networks that brought us their “Killer Gaming” line of Ethernet and wireless products.  Acquired by Qualcomm in the fall of 2011, the merged Bigfoot and Qualcomm teams have now released “Streamboost”.

02_Bigfoot_Networks.jpg

So, what is Streamboost you ask?  Simply put, it’s an innovative Quality of Service engine that’s much, much more than what’s available for consumer QoS today.  QoS on most current consumer products only looks at what ports traffic is flowing across and prioritizes the traffic based on a simple list of what ports should be given priority at the expense of traffic on lower priority ports.  There’s no analysis of what the actual traffic is and in cases where different types of traffic flows over the same port (port 80 for example) it doesn’t offer any benefit at all.  The Streamboost engine on the other hand, will actually inspect the packets in real time, determining not only what port the traffic is using, but what the traffic actually is.  So for example, Streamboost will be able actually be able to tell that one stream is 1080p YouTube video while another is Standard Definition Netflix traffic, even though they are both on port 80, and give both streams the bandwidth they need. 

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Once the engine determines what type of data is moving through the connection, it will give that connection the bandwidth it needs to run optimally, but no more.  The “no more” piece is important because it frees up bandwidth for other applications and connections.  If there is not enough bandwidth available for the “Optimal” setting, it will then drop back and make every effort to give the connection what’s been determined to be the “Minimum acceptable” bandwidth needed for that type of traffic.

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How does Streamboost know what bandwidth is Optimal and what bandwidth is Minimum?  Well, Qualcomm has studied various types of traffic ranging from YouTube to Netflix to Call of Duty to torrents, and they’ve come up with the Optimal and Minimum bandwidth values for all types of traffic.  This data will be included in a “Detection and Policy Table” on the router that the Streamboost engine will reference.  My first thoughts when I heard this was that it sounded great, but what happens when that table gets out of date?  Qualcomm has thought of that as well and Streamboost includes an opt-in, cloud based service that will keep your router’s table up to date.  Not only that, but if the router encounters a new type of traffic not in its table, it will capture a few packets and send them up to the cloud (anonymized of course) to be analyzed and added to future table updates.  Your router should actually perform better as it’s table is updated and will be better after a year than it was on Day 1.  However, if you’re not interested in being part of the “Opt In crowd”, the engine can also be manually updated at any time.

The UI looks great and will let you drill down into your bandwidth use either by application or device.  Speaking of devices, Streamboost can detect the various types of devices on your network and lets you prioritize based on those criteria as well.

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D-Link and Alienware are the first two partners onboard with Streamboost and will be showing routers with the technology at CES as well as releasing them this spring.  All in all, after speaking to Qualcomm, I think I’m going to hold off my planned router upgrade until I can get my hands on a new router with Streamboost built in.

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Source: Qualcomm

D-Link releases WiDi adapter

Subject: General Tech, Displays | June 20, 2011 - 08:03 AM |
Tagged: widi, D-Link

There are a lot of benefits of having a home theatre PC but still one major drawback: having the PC by the TV. Intel has worked hard to find a solution and released the specification under the name “WiDi”, a wireless display specification that lets you share your monitor with an HDTV attached to a wireless receiver box. D-Link has just recently launched their WiDi receiver in the US with Canada coming next month; will WiDi start picking up market share with more capable devices?

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Why do network appliances these days look like pillows?

(Image from D-Link)

The D-Link MainStage (known as DHD-131 to its friends) has only a power cable to its name apart from your choice of video and audio connection to your TV or sound system. For choice of connection you have two video options and three audio options: on the video side you have HDMI for your high-resolution viewing and standard RCA for your standard definition devices; on the audio side you have optical audio or HDMI for surround and white and red RCA for stereo. Apart from a power button and a reset button that is the whole of this unit.

DHD-131_back.jpg

Plastic case with on/off butty. Baby got back shots.

(Image from D-Link)

One thing that typically holds back other implementations of WiDi that I have seen, and I assume this is no exception, is latency. The slight lag when controlling a media program or browsing a website is acceptable however it would really hold back the use of a PC as a console replacement unless the video card is directly connected to the TV which is a definite shame but to be expected given the bandwidths over WiFi that we are talking about. If you happen to be interested in this solution, however, it retails for just under 130$.

Source: HotHardware