wi-fi

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Dropcam HD Review

It doesn’t get any easier than this

When we hear hype that something is the “easiest” thing in the world to set up, we usually put on our hip waders and prepare to slog through a waist-high pile of dung, because 19 times out of 20, it's usually a load of crap.

Well, believe us when we say that the Dropcam HD is the easiest Internet camera  we’ve ever set up. We mean it. To set up the Dropcam HD, you just plug the camera into your PC via USB. The setup files are stored in flash, which kicks up a configuration utility. This lets you create an account with Dropcam and connect the device to a Wi-Fi network. Once you’ve done that, you unplug the Dropcam HD, move it to the area you want to monitor, and plug it in via the included 2-amp wall wart. That’s it; you’re done and streaming 720p video to the Internet in about two minutes flat. The lens is a wide 107 degrees, which is enough to let you see most of a room. The video quality is good, and while certainly far better than QVGA surveillance cams, the compression is heavy enough that you won’t be picking out license plates with it.

The Dropcam can be removed from the unique mount, if needed.

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D-Link DIR-827 Wi-Fi Router Review

Cool features don’t make up for mediocre performance

D-LINK’S DIR-827 WI-FI router boasts two features that our current favorite router, Netgear’s WNDR4500, lacks: a USB 3.0 port and an SD media card reader. Both products are dual-band models with radios operating on the 2.4- and 5GHz frequency bands, respectively. The DIR-827, however, supports only two simultaneous 150Mb/spatial streams on each band, where the WNDR4500 supports three.

D-Link positions the DIR-827 as a media router, optimized for streaming audio and video and delivering exceptional performance for online gaming. It’s the big brother to the single-band DIR-657 we reviewed in the December 2011 issue. Like that model, this one is fully DLNA compliant and features Ubicom’s excellent quality-of-service engine that assigns higher priority to data packets associated with those types of apps.

We expected the DIR-827 to be slower than Netgear’s best because it’s outfitted with only a 2x2 antenna array (two transmit and two receive), whereas the WNDR4500 boasts a 3x3 array. And while the WNDR4500 costs $30 more than the DIR-827, we didn’t expect D-Link’s router to be more than 50 percent slower in most of our test locations (although the DIR-827 did beat the WNDR4500 when the client was in close proximity).

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D-Link DIR-645 Wi-Fi Router Review

 

When you don't need the very best

THE REMARK ABOVE is more than a left-handed compliment. D-Link’s DIR-645 isn’t nearly as feature-packed as our current favorite wireless router, Netgear’s WNDR-4500, but the DIR-645 is nearly as fast on the 2.4GHz frequency band, and it costs almost half as much as Netgear’s decidedly kick-ass router.

If you’ve divided your router requirements into needs and wants, and you’ve determined that a single-band router is all you need, D-Link’s DIR-645 is a good choice. If attaching USB storage to that router is also firmly ensconced in your needs column, on the other hand, you should stay clear of this device. While it's outfitted with one USB 2.0 port that is capable of hosting either storage or a multi-function printer, you must install D-Link’s SharePort utility on every computer on your network that needs to use it. And only one of those computers will be allowed to connect to an attached device at any one time.