Best AC router: everything you need to know about the 802.11ac standard
Even though you might just now be getting around to upgrading your home network to take advantage of the 802.11n spec, there’s a new standard on the horizon that promises even faster speeds. How fast? Well, if 802.11n is a pitcher’s fastball, the draft 802.11ac spec is a bullet fired from a gun, at least in theoretical terms.
Honoring 20 years of the World Wide Web by looking forward at the future of broadband Internet
Broadband has evolved considerably over the last decade or so in the United States. Whereas just a few years ago, large parts of the country were relegated to pokey 56K dial-up connections over standard phone lines, now multi-megabit broadband connections are commonplace and speed increases are being introduced regularly. In fact, in some test markets, broadband at gigabit speeds is on the way. And yes, that’s gigabits with a “G,” as in roughly 17,800x more bandwidth than 56K dial-up.
Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
Aside from loading alternative firmware (DD-WRT or Tomato, for instance), the easiest way to upgrade a router’s performance is to replace its antennas. That’s impossible with most of the routers we see these days, because manufacturers are using either nonremovable antennas or they’re putting the antennas inside the enclosure. So we were intrigued to see that EnGenius put upgradeable antennas on its extremely inexpensive ESR300H; this router boasts a street price of less than $45.
As you’ve probably guessed, you’ll give up more than a few features in exchange for that low price tag. This is a single-band router with only a 2.4GHz radio, so we wouldn’t recommend it for deployment in an environment crowded with other wireless routers operating on the same frequency band. The ESR300H also lacks a USB port, so you won’t be able to share a printer or storage device over the network. But the feature you’ll miss the most is a gigabit Ethernet switch—the switch on this router is limited to 100Mb/s. If you move a lot of large files around your network using wired connections, you’ll find this router to be agonizingly slow.
The original Linksys E4200 (you can read our review at goo.gl/TEfmG) delivered two 150Mb/s spatial streams on its 2.4GHz radio and three 150Mb/s spatial streams on its 5GHz radio (for theoretical throughput of 300- and 450Mb/s, respectively). This updated model features a new chipset that delivers theoretical throughput of 450Mb/s on both its radios.
So all the changes are under the hood—the enclosure’s industrial design is identical, and that includes the lid that prevents us from plugging hooded Ethernet cables into the four-port gigabit Ethernet switch. We didn’t encounter any problems getting the router to power up a 2.5-inch USB hard drive this time, but it could be because we switched to a newer 500GB drive (we had been using a Verbatim Clōn; we’re now using a Western Digital My Passport Essential). There’s a UPnP media server onboard, but the router is not DLNA certified. If network-attached storage isn’t important to you, the USB port can be used to share a printer instead.
No one likes sounding stupid. Unfortunately, it’s dead simple to do exactly that when you’re talking about computer hardware or nerdy popular culture. One slip of the tongue or a single misused piece of terminology can land you a one-way ticket to Moron Hollow with six days and two delightful nights of luxury accommodations. In an effort to keep you from having to take such a shameful trip, we’ve put together this list of commonly misused and misunderstood terminology from the worlds of computing and geek culture.
The supply of AOL free trial CD’s at your local grocery store may have dried up long ago, though believe it or not, the service itself is still going relatively strong. According to the company’s most recent earnings release, AOL still has over 3.5 million subscribers to its dialup internet service, and the decline seems to be slowing. Q3 represented the company’s smallest decline yet, even though the company lost just over 630,000 subscribers over the past 12 months.
You can never really have enough USB ports, and this is especially true if you own a laptop, most of which are decked out with just three or four of them. By the time you plug in an external mouse, keyboard, and laptop cooler, you're either out of USB ports or down to one. Be that as it may, USB modems continue to outsell embedded modules by a wide margin, a research company says.
According to Jon James, Virgin Media's director of broadband, his company plans to release a modem and router capable of handling speeds of up to 400Mbps by year's end, putting the ISP in position to deliver 100Mbps service in the near-term.
"We want to be ready for the evolution of network speeds in the coming years as we roll out ever-improving services," James said.
Virgin Media already has about 70,000 subscribers on its 50Mbps service, the fastest tier currently offered by the ISP. It wasn't that long ago, however, that Virgin Media promised 100Mbps service before the end of 2010, and the company has already trialled 200Mbps service.
At 100Mbps, Virgin Media says Internet users would be able to download a music album in just 5 seconds, an hour-long show in 21 seconds, and an HD movie in a little under 7.5 minutes.
Michael Concannon, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies' senior vice president of connectivity and wireless modules, told Cnet that most of the leading PC makers have chosen its Gobi modem chipsets for their laptops, with around 100 laptop models currently on the market boasting Gobi 3G modems.
Stealing Internet service is serious business, especially when you've made a business out of allowing others to hop online for free. That's what 26-year-old Matthew Delorey of New Bedford, Mass., is accused of doing, who was arrested for allegedly selling hacked cable modems that gave customers free Internet access. Charged with one count each of conspiracy and wire fraud, if convicted, Delorey will face up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Delorey's undoing was when he sold a pair of modified modems to an undercover FBI agent, according to authorities. The U.S. Department of Justice says Delorey ran a website called Massmodz.com, where he allegedly sold cable modems that had been modified to spoof the device's MAC address.
But that isn't all that has Delorey in hot water. He's also accused of posting instructional videos on YouTube titled "How to Get Free Internet Free Cable Comcast or any Cable ISP -- 100% works" and "Massmodz.com How to bypass Comcast registration page with premod cable modem SB5100, SB5101."
Should a court ultimately find Delorey is guilty, what do you think, does the potential punishment fit the crime? Hit the jump and sound off!