Let's not kid ourselves, Best Buy's Geek Squad division isn't exactly a respected establishment in DIY circles, and referring someone to Geek Squad for tech support is like, well, does this even need an analogy? No offense to any of our readers who may work as a Geek Squad tech, but you know what they say about a few bad apples.
What's even worse -- and we thought unthinkable -- is when the manufacturer of one your computer parts suggests calling Geek Squad to diagnose your failing gear before they'll replace it. That's exactly what one user who wrote into The Consumerist claims happened when his Netgear DGN2200 wireless router with DSL modem went on the fritz.
"Five calls to [Netgear's] tech department and it is still not working," the user claims. "On the fifth and final call they suggested I call the Geek Squad (approximately $139 for them to come to our home) to troubleshoot it and if it proves the modem is bad they will send me a new unit at that time (which I only paid $79 to begin with)."
It doesn't take a math whiz to figure out that's a bum deal. Assuming it all went down the way the user claims it did, let's hope this was an isolated incident.
The Asus RT-N16 is a single-band router with three removable (and therefore upgradeable) antennas, but the third antenna didn’t help the router rise above third place overall in terms of TCP throughput. It did, however, do a solid job of penetrating our media room.
The RT-N16 is equipped with two USB ports, so it can support both a portable USB hard drive and a printer. USB storage devices are shared using SMB/CIFS, so the shares appear when you use Windows to browse your network. This is a far superior alternative to forcing you to install a client to access the shares, as some of the other routers do.
Networking outfit Buffalo Technology this week announced a handful of new wireless products the company says take aim at budget shoppers looking for cost-friendly, easy-to-install solutions.
"Buffalo has always been committed to delivering high quality, high performance wireless solutions that consumers have come to rely on," said Ralph Spagnola, vice president of sales at Buffalo Technology. "With the latest additions to our wireless product portfolio, Buffalo is offering the best blend of robust value-model, entry-level, and high-performance wireless solutions on the market."
Buffalo's trio of products include a fairly standard wireless-N router (WCR-GN) with four Ethernet ports, a dual-port access point (WLAE-AG300N) that can be configured to operate in three different modes (Ethernet converter, access point, or repeater), and a USB 2.0 802.11n adapter (WLI-UC-GNM).
The WLAE-AG300N ($75), WCR-GN ($40), and WLI-UC-GNM ($40) will all ship later this month.
Stop whatever it is you're doing and visit your router manufacturer's website. Once there, drill down to the firmware section and bookmark that page, and then get in the habit of checking it regularly. The reason? Millions of routers are about to become extinct (sort of).
At this year's Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, one of the items on the agenda is "How to Hack Millions of Routers," an alarming keynote in which Craig Heffner, a researcher with security firm Seismic, plans to release a software tool he says is capable of cracking half of all routers in existence.
This isn't a new technique, but an altered version of "DNS rebinding," something that has been talked about for more than a decade.
"There have been plenty of patches over the years, but this still hasn't really been fixed," Heffner says.
In short, the hack exploits part of the Domain Name System (DNS) so that when an unsuspecting visitor surfs to a compromised site, their browser ends up hijacked, giving the attacker access to their router settings. Browser makers have already patched earlier versions of this attack, but according to Heffner, it's all for naught.
"The way that [those patches] are circumvented is actually fairly well known," Heffner explains. "It just hasn't been put together like this before."
More info here, including a small sample of routers Heffner has demonstrated this attack on.
I have a Netgear WNDR3300 dual-band router that broadcasts both 802.11g and 802.11n signals. Today, I noticed that in certain areas of my house, the 802.11g signal is actually stronger than my 802.11n signal, by a lot! Shouldn’t this be the other way around? Currently, the router sits atop a bookcase in my basement as I don’t have anywhere to put it upstairs. The signal comes from a cable modem and is attached to a Windows 7 Pro 64-bit computer. What gives?
Read the Doctor's answer for Brian after the jump.
Trendnet can legitimately claim bragging rights for being the first company to bring a three-stream IEEE 802.11n router to market. Unfortunately, our first impressions of the TEW-691GR are not all that positive. While we never expected this router to deliver actual throughput of 450Mb/s (just as we never expect the far more common two-stream routers to deliver actual throughput of 300Mb/s), its sparse feature set and bipolar real-world performance left us unimpressed.
As you'll see from the benchmark charts, the TEW-691GR proved to be very fast, but only when our wireless client was in relatively close proximity. Trendnet recommends reviewers use a notebook equipped with Intel’s integrated Intel WiFi Link 5300 adapter, because you can’t buy a three-stream USB Wi-Fi adapter today. But since we can’t expect readers to buy a notebook based solely on which wireless network adapter is inside, we elected to stick with the TEW-664UB USB adapter that Trendnet provided.
Could any component in a router’s BOM (bill of materials) cost less than an LED? Don’t think so. So why the heck did Belkin design its Play Max wireless router to use a single LED to inform you of its operating status?
Granted, the Play Max’s street price is $20 to $30 cheaper than many other concurrent dual-band wireless routers, and there might even be a lot of folks who don’t pay much attention to details like the status of their router’s ports or whether or not both of the router’s radios are operating. We do though, and a single LED that glows green when the router has an Internet connection and amber if something is amiss doesn’t cut it.
The art of the PC upgrade is simultaneously an expression and a test of one’s diagnostic skills, computing savvy, and fiscal sensibilities. Identify the bottleneck. Research the parts that will fix the bottleneck. Remove the bottleneck.
As always, price and performance are the pivot points. After all, you can’t just toss $1,000 at your system to level it up. Well, you can, but in most cases you’d be a fool for doing so.
When the Maximum PC staff convened in conference room Spock to plan this story, we decided to establish some ground rules. First, we challenged ourselves to stick to our theme of a successful budget upgrade. This meant avoiding the tendency to fall back on the most expensive, best-of-breed components in each category.
Instead we forced ourselves to take a more nuanced approach. In each category, we expended considerable energy determining which product(s) owned the sweet spot—top-left on the 2x2 grid if you’re graph-happy—of the price-performance ratio. Staying consistent with our real-world theme, we used real-world pricing from sites like NewEgg and Amazon. Because we’re talking about upgrading an existing machine, you’ll find no case or mobo recommendations here.
Without further adieu, we happily present the results of our research. After the jump you’ll find a bevy of product recommendations that prove you don’t have to break the bank to achieve substantial gains in performance.
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.
As we mentioned earlier, the Linksys E3000 is actually a rebadged WRT610N. We’re taking a second look at it now because it remains Cisco’s best consumer router; as such, we owe it to our readers to compare it to the best of what the rest of the industry has to offer.
We updated the router with the latest firmware for this review and downloaded fresh drivers for the Linksys AE1000 dual-band USB client adapter, so we were quite surprised to see the router perform more poorly than it did when we tested it several months ago. Cisco Connect remains the easiest tool we’ve ever used to establish a connection to a router, but Cisco’s “fix” for a problem we described in our initial review has rendered the router a whole lot less appealing.