With 802.11n Draft 2.0 routers becoming as common as Storm Troopers at Comic-Con, manufacturers need a feature that sets their product apart from the crowd. Like many of its competitors, Belkin added a second radio to its N+ Wireless Router—but this one is used for a very different purpose.
Rather than operating on a separate frequency (to separate audio and video streams from more mundane data), the second 2.4GHz radio on Belkin’s router establishes a guest network that limits clients to Internet access. Belkin’s web interface provides extremely limited access to this second radio’s settings: You can turn this radio on or off, change its SSID and passphrase, and choose between WPA/WPA2 pre-shared key or “Hotel Style” security.
When we reviewed the first Killer network card (Holiday 2006), we found that the meager performance gains it offered couldn’t justify its $250 price tag. Now Killer’s back with the new Xeno, a PCI Express design that costs $100 less than the original card, but it still doesn’t offer much benefit for the price.
The Killer’s big promise with the Xeno is that it will improve your ping in games by offloading network overhead from your CPU to a dedicated processor on the board. To test this claim, we set up two identical test beds in the Lab. Then we joined the same Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead servers and followed the same players in spectator mode while measuring the ping and frame rate on each system at identical intervals, using Fraps. In this test, we measured a fairly consistent ping difference of 5ms in favor of the Xeno, which is in line with what we measured in 2006.
Netgear’s MOCA (short for Multimedia over Coax Alliance) adapter is the can solution to the can’t. If you can’t get a reliable Wi-Fi signal throughout your home and you can’t make an Ethernet cable run and you can’t tap your home’s electrical grid with a HomePlug Powerline adapter, than MOCA is the can.
Using existing standard cable coax wires, the Netgear MOCA adapter lets you turn your cable TV runs into a “home entertainment network.” What the hell is that? Since the adapter is built around passing data through your cable TV, it’s no surprise that MOCA wants to push its adoption as an easy way to get Internet connectivity to your set top box, game console, or media center PC.
Setup is Joe-six-pack friendly: Just unplug the coax cable from your TV set and plug it into the Netgear MOCA adapter. Run a second coax cable from the adapter to the TV. TV signals are passed through transparently, so your American Idol viewing won’t be disturbed. And if the signal is degraded you can actually change the frequency the adapter operates on.
This multi-function Wi-Fi device is super handy in some applications; utterly useless in others. It’s great if you have an extensive hardwired network and want to deploy a wireless access point and a three-port switch in a room your Wi-Fi router can’t otherwise reach. But it sucks as a wireless bridge because of its extremely poor range.
Trendnet’s wireless TV-IP422W IP camera boasts some terrific features, including motorized tilt and pan, but is that enough to knock Logitech’s Wi-Life system off our Kick Ass list? Read our full hands-on review--and check out the software's user interface--after the jump.
Canary Wireless was the first out with a usable Wi-Fi network spotter. We say usable because we’ve seen all manner of gimmicky, useless devices that couldn’t spot a Wi-Fi network if they were hit by a semi full of them.
Thankfully, Canary's second-generation Hot Spotter is quite a capable beast.
If you wander far from your 802.11n Draft 2.0 router, you’ll want to know about Hawking Technology’s 300N Dish Network Adapter. This not-so-little dish antenna delivers outstanding range without the need to drop your network down to 802.11g mode to support it.
Read on to find out what we thought of its performance.
At first glance, Zonet’s ZVC7630W Wi-Fi webcam seems to be a lust-worthy device. It’s equipped with a two-way intercom, automatic night-vision mode, a USB port for external storage, and software that supports up to 16 cameras. Our enthusiasm dwindled, however, once we got our hands on the device.
If you can’t afford to upgrade your network to 802.11n Draft N 2.0, you might consider purchasing Trendnet’s Easy-N-Upgrader TEW-637AP. Instead of throwing your existing router in the trash, plug it into the Easy-N-Upgrader access point to gain many of the benefits of a Draft N router for about half the price.
We sometimes get so caught up in the excitement of the “next big thing” we throw the baby out with the bathwater. Based on the performance of the Wi-Fire Wi-Fi adapter, that might just be the case with IEEE 802.11g wireless routers.