Live in the US and are looking for a new router? Don't buy TP-Link

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2016 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: tp-link, dd-wrt

The US FCC backed off on preventing users from flashing the firmware on their routers, as long as they do not operate outside authorized radio frequency band, not that this had anything to do with why users wanted to flash to DD-WRT.  This has not stopped TP-Link from doing so, as of now they will not sell routers which allow a user to install customized firmware.  Assumedly this is a CYA move to ensure that they cannot be sued if someone does change the frequency limits, output power, country codes or other banned modifications but is more likely to cause a decline in their sales.  The Register has more on the decision from the FC and TP-Link here.

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"In a brief statement and FAQ published this week, TP-Link – which is based in Shenzhen, China – said the FCC's revised rules on radio-based equipment makes user reprogrammable firmware illegal in America, and therefore it cannot sell in the US routers that can be re-flashed by their owners."

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Source: The Register

CES 2016: TP-Link First To Launch 802.11ad Router

Subject: Networking | January 13, 2016 - 12:03 AM |
Tagged: wireless router, tp-link, mu-mimo, gigabit ethernet, CES 2016, 802.11ad, 802.11ac

Last week, TP-Link launched a new wireless router that is the first to support the 802.11ad "WiGig" standard alongside the usual fare of wireless AC, N, B, G, and A Wi-Fi networks. Sporting eight foldable external antennas, the TP-Link Talon AD7200 will be available within the next few months.

The Talon AD7200 features four Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 3.0 ports, eight antennas, and an all black casing with status LEDs lighting up the front panel. Two Qualcomm Atheros chipsets along with an unspecified dual core processor clocked at 1.4 GHz make up the internal hardware. One Atheros chipset is solely for the new 802.11ad radio while the other handles the remaining networks.

TP-Link Talon AD7200.jpg

On the wireless side of things, the router supports simultaneous operation of a 5 GHz 802.11ac, 2.4 GHz 802.11n, and a 60 GHz 802.11ad network. Throughput is rated at up to 1,733 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, 800 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz, and an impressive 4,600 Mbps on the 60 GHz band. The 802.11ad network support is the really interesting part of this router. While the 60 GHz band allows for super fast connections, it has a range of only a few meters and it needs a clear line of sight without any obstructions – the signal can't pass through a person or even a decorative plant for example. This standard was initially intended for the connected living room that would allow users to stream or copy high bit-rate media from a mobile device or computer to your television. In that respect, the 60 GHz band works well and offers up plenty of bandwidth for the job. 

The router allows hand-offs from 802.11ad to 802.11ac/n/b/a (eg. when you leave the room you can still stay connected to the network and internet, just on the slower but still fast enough for Internet access network) and supports beamforming and multi-user MIMO. It is using an allegedly user friendly firmware.

It is strange to see a router supporting the standard though when a direct Wi-Fi connection between the computer and TV should do fine. It does open up some interesting possibilities though. Right now, consumer devices supporting 10 Gigabit Ethernet are extremely rare and still not very affordable. With 1 Gigabit links being commonplace for a number of years now they have started to be surpassed by 802.11ac Wi-Fi in (theoretical) throughput (though the ol' hardwired connection still holds stability and latency benefits). There is a new standard NBASE-T aimed at bridging the gap between 1 GbE and 10 GbE for home users that hits 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps but that is still very much in its infancy. If you had an 802.11ad access point in every room, or at least the places you needed high bandwidth connections, it would be a definite improvement over a Gigabit Ethernet connection for large file transfers (think a backup to a NAS or offloading pictures and video from your laptop or phone to your desktop for editing). Of course, WiGig docks are also a thing, and offer a wireless alternative to a Thunderbolt docking station.

802.11ad is not revolutionary and it has it's limitations, but it is extremely fast. I'm interested to see the benchmarks and what sort of setup this router will enable. According to Ars Technica, Lenovo and Acer have WiGig laptops and WiGig docks coming out this year, and hopefully USB 3.0 WiGig cards will come out before the end of the year. I have a need for networking speed.

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Source: TP-Link

CES 2015: TP-LINK AV1200 3-Port Gigabit Powerline Adapter

Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 6, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: tp-link, powerline networking, networking, ces 2015, CES

Powerline networks are not the most popular, especially with advancements in wireless technology, but they are still being actively developed. TP-LINK specifically mentions a few use cases: going through cement or certain soundproof walls, going across metal beams and studs, and going further than is practical under FCC broadcast power limits.

Today at CES, TP-LINK has announced the TL-PA8030 AV1200 Gigabit Powerline networking adapter. This product differentiates itself from previous offerings with “HomePlug AV2 MIMO”, which is an acronym that is normally applied to wireless technology with multiple antennas. It is basically the same thing in this case, because the adapter uses all three prongs.

TPLink-TL-PA8030.jpg

Basically, how electrical sockets work is that you have two main prongs, one of which has an alternating voltage applied to it that averages out to about ~115V RMS over a cycle (relative to the other prong). When that wire is connected to a second one, at whatever is considered “neutral” voltage, it creates an electrical current with that drop (or rise) in voltage. A third plug, which is held at the ground's voltage, takes away any excess buildup from friction, wires that are shorted to the case, and so forth.

For this product, this means that one connection will be on the same circuit as a high-voltage, 60Hz signal, and the other will be mixed with ground noise. Keep in mind, the alternative to powerline networking is broadcasting on unregulated, wireless spectrum, so humanity is not afraid to send a signal through some nasty noise. Still, it is good to stop and think about what these engineers have been able to accomplish: broadcasting two signals, down two really nasty (and in different ways) circuits, and combine them for increased performance with multiple devices.

This out of the way, the specifications themselves are brief: it is three Gigabit (1.2 Gbps total) network connections that communicate through A/C plugs. It is backwards compatible with older TP-LINK HomePlug AV adapters (AV1000, AV600, AV500, AV200, and of course other AV1200s).

No pricing information, but TP-LINK is targeting Q3 2015 for this AV1200.

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Source: TP-LINK

CES 2015: TP-LINK Archer C9 AC1900 Dual Band Router

Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 6, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: tp-link, router, ces 2015, CES, archer, 802.11ac

While yesterday's TP-LINK Archer C2600 and C3200 routers were designed for multiple devices, this one seems a bit more targeted at fewer, but still high-performance connections. The TP-LINK Archer C9 router can operate on one, 5 GHz block and one, 2.4 GHz chunk at the same time (versus the two 5.0 GHz and one 2.4 GHz distribution of the C3200).

TPLink-Archer_C9 1.jpg

A bit more specifications have been released, compared to the C2600 and C3200. A 1GHz, dual-core processor will perform the back-end computation to send the data where it needs to go. It will also have one USB 3.0 port (side) and one USB 2.0 port (rear), which are used to network-attach printers and storage.

The TP-LINK Archer C9 AC1900 dual band router is available now for $169.99 USD.

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Source: TP-LINK

CES 2015: TP-LINK Archer C2600 and C3200 802.11ac Routers

Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 5, 2015 - 07:35 AM |
Tagged: tp-link, router, ces 2015, CES, 802.11ac

At some point, routers have stopped becoming a pure commodity device. Some manufacturers are differentiating themselves based on CPU performance or available RAM, while others compete on software features. In this case, TP-LINK is introducing two routers: one with four antennas, and the other with six. They are both designed around connection quality for multiple devices that are communicating simultaneously.

TPLink-Archer-C2600.jpg

TP-LINK Archer C2600

The Archer C2600 is the four-antenna product that uses Qualcomm MU-MIMO EFX, which can connect to three devices at once. TP-LINK states that the platform can establish four connections, but they are reserving the fourth to assist the other three by somehow reducing interference. They do not provide details about their specific process (whether it's constructive interference, choose the best signal, etc.) and I do not have a deep understanding of practical implementations in this area.

TPLink-Archer-C3200.jpg

TP-LINK Archer C3200

The Archer C3200 is the six-antenna SKU that can operate on three bands simultaneously. Rather than sharing a single chunk of the 5.0 GHz spectrum, or dropping some devices down to 2.4 GHz, it can manage two segments of 5.0 GHz simultaneously (and a third at 2.4 GHz). As the number of connected devices increase, the router will automatically assign them to the best block.

Both routers also include Gigabit Ethernet for wired networks, and USB 3.0 ports (they do not state how many) to attach storage to. The C3200 advertises “Substantial RAM” without providing any hard numbers.

No pricing information is currently provided, but they are expected to be available in Q3 2015.

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Source: TP-LINK