Mvix USA builds an extensive line of home-theater PCs, so when we saw the massive antenna on its Solido USB Wi-Fi adapter, we assumed it would outperform any adapter we’ve tested in Maximum PC Lab North’s media room. As it turned out, performance only equaled the best. Where this device excels is at range.
If you’re looking for an adapter to stream media from the 5GHz radio on your dual-band router, you can quit reading now because the Solido operates on the more common 2.4GHz band only. It is, however, compatible with 802.11b, g, and n routers. If your client PC is located in an entertainment center, you’ll want to be aware that the Solido’s antenna is 6.7 inches tall; but if you’re doing that, you’ve probably left plenty of vertical space for ventilation anyway.
There's a new version of Bluetooth on the way, one that will use less power and could potentially open the door to more functional watches, home sensors, medical equipment, and other gear that typically doesn't have the luxury of frequent battery recharges.
"It's going to enable an entirely new market for Bluetooth and allow it to be used in a category of products that Bluetooth just couldn't be used in before," said Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.
According to the Group, the chips for the low-energy version of Bluetooth will be ready in a just a few months, likely resulting in products being ready in time for the holiday shopping season. Health and fitness products, such as pedometers and glucose monitors, could end up being a big focus of these new Bluetooth chips.
"Today’s news from the Bluetooth SIG is an exciting step forward for technology in mobile health and wellness devices," said Rick Cnossen, president and board chair, Continua Health Alliance. "Our selection of Bluetooth low energy for the Continua Version Two Design Guidelines extends exciting new capabilities to manufacturers and consumers alike, as well as enabling additional use cases within the Continua ecosystem."
It wasn’t much of a contest: Netgear’s WNDR3700 V1 retained its crown as our Best of the Best router with spectacular TCP through-put, a strong feature set, and an even stronger price/performance ratio. It’s the second-most expensive router we tested, but it’s worth every penny.
The WNDR3700’s 2.4GHz radio delivered the best performance at every client location except one (where it placed second), and its 5GHz radio finished first in six of our seven locations. D-Link’s DIR-855 firmware is more customizable, but Netgear’s router offers several important features D-Link can’t match, including a DLNA-compliant media server, the ability to configure either radio as a wireless bridge/repeater, and NAS functionality that doesn’t require a client-side utility.
Belkin, apparently inspired by the "explosion of multimedia content," is adding app support to its new wireless routers, the company announced on Wednesday.
"In a recent IDC survey, 72 percent of respondents own a digital still camera and use it at least once a month in the home," Belkin said. "As such, we can expect that more people will want to share their photos and videos in more places."
Belkin's detective work didn't stop there, and the company cited a Forrester study in which the digital music market has grown to $3 billion in the U.S. in 2008. Looking to capitalize on all this, Belkin's "Surf, Share, Play, and Play Max Wireless Routers" will offer a variety of apps, including Music Mover, which lets users play their entire music library on smart devices.
But it's not all about fun play. The Print Genie app allows uses to wirelessly print from any computer on the network, while the Memory Safe app performs automatic backups of photos and files to an external drive (sold separately, of course). Other apps include:
Self Healing: Automatically detect and resolve network problems
Music Labeler: Automatically identifies and labels tracks with correct title, artist, and genre
Daily DJ: Provides personalized playlists from your music library based on your mood
Torrent Genie: Downloads large media files whether your PC is on or off
Bit Boost: Prioritizes traffic on your network for video, gaming, and VoIP
Not all apps are available on all routers. Look for the new line to be made available in April starting at $50.
Eye-Fi this week announced a new lineup of wireless memory cards that are twice as nice as previous gen models in a number of ways. According to Eye-Fi, the new X2 series transfer data twice as fast as before, serve up to twice the capacity, and now have twice as many hotspots to work from.
"Just in time for spring outings and summer road trips, we're giving users the ultimate Eye-Fi experience -- it's faster and even more convenient," said Jef Holove, CEO for Eye-Fi. "Uploading and sharing your memories with friends and family is as simple as finding a nearby Starbucks and turning on your camera. We do the rest."
There are three cards in the new series, including the Eye-Fi Connect X2 (4GB), Explorer X2 (8GB), and Pro (X2). All three cards are rated for Class 6 performance and come capable of uploading photos and vids to a home PC or one of more than 25 online sharing sites, like Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, or Picasa.
Both the Explorer X2 and Pro X2 come with lifetime geotagging and one-year of hotspot access, while the Pro X2 is also capable of creating an ad hoc connection
Pricing for new cards has been set at $50 (Connect X2), $100 (Explore X2), and $150 (Pro X2).
A long time in the making, Creative Technology today announced that its Creative Sound Blaster World of Warcraft Wireless Headset is now available for purchase.
"As the leading innovator in precision audio for PC gaming, we were well positioned to develop a headset that could live up to the high standards set forth by Blizzard Entertainment games," said Steve Erickson, VP and GM for Audio and Video at Creative. "The Sound Blaster World of Warcraft Wireless Headset is a result of this, providing an unprecedented combination of wireless technology, THX TruStudio PC technology for enriched audio performance, and a unique design that stands out from anything else available to gamers."
The headset comes with interchangeable headset lenses so your mom knows where your allegiance lies when she brings you dinner during a raid. Other features include oversized padded earcups, built-in rechargeable battery, VoiceFX technology, a detachable microphone, and an optional Voice Tap accessory to eliminate the need to put down the hot pocket and push a key to talk.
Leave it to Brando to really talk up a product. The “Rii Mini Wireless Keyboard” is apparently pretty awesome if you take their word for it. It has 26 “dazzling” LEDs backlighting the keyboard. As if that wasn’t enough to sell you, it is designed to be easy to carry; by being small apparently. Then there’s the “notebook trackpad”. If you still have doubts, just remember this: it also has a laser pointer. How can they power all this awesome? Well the Rii Mini Wireless Keyboard has a “Built-in rechargeable more staying power lithium-ion battery”.
In all seriousness though, it doesn’t look like a terrible solution for a media center PC controller. The keyboard layout looks a bit awkward with the trackpad shifting the keys to the left. It uses a standard 2.4GHz wireless radio with a 30 meter range. The price is a little steep at $92. That’s maybe too much until you consider that you get “iPhone style craft, classic style” according to Brando. Get it here, if you wish.
Novatel is ready to ride the WiMAX wave and has announced that it has successfully completed over the air testing of its new MiFi Intelligent Mobile Hotspot prototype based on 4G WiMAX.
"Novatel Wireless is pleased to support the growing 4G ecosystem and the evolution of next-generation communications with this milestone WiMAX call," said Rob Hadley, CMO, Novatel Wireless. "The combination of our intelligent software platform on MiFi with 4G speeds from Beceem's high-performance 4G-WiMAX chips will open up new opportunities for the growing number of initiatives involving 4G mobile broadband applications and services."
According to Novatel, it was immediately able to achieve throughput of 18Mbps in over the air testing, and that's just the beginning. The company's MiFi prototype is capable of throughput speeds in excess of 30Mpbs downloads and 10Mpbs uploads in a 10MHz channel, Novatel added.
Say what you will about Microsoft, but they’ve always made pretty good mice in our book. The Redmond giant’s new BlueTrack technology has made for some fairly lust-worthy pointing devices. Though, the pricing has been high thus far. Their newest offerings though, are priced at a mere $30 or less.
The Wireless Mouse 3500 is a smaller mouse aimed at notebook users. It has five buttons and the hand-contorting form factor common on notebook mice. The going price is $30. The Wireless Mouse 2000 is a more generously sized standard mouse with five buttons and a tilt wheel. This one also retails for $30. Finally we have the Comfort Mouse 4500. This unit is basically just the 2000 with a wire instead of wireless technology. This model will run only $25.
If you aren’t sold based on the price alone, the new BlueTrack mice are available in an assortment of colors to brighten your work station. Microsoft has gotten some kudos for the BlueTrack technology, and these new mice make the technology more accessible than ever. You might see these inexpensive mice in your office soon.
Every portable computer, from the brawniest desktop replacement to the tiniest netbook, has one thing in common: terrible speakers. There’s no shortage of powered speaker systems on the market—some of which are very good—but what’s the point of using a laptop if you have to tether it to a box to get good sound?
Klipsch has a better solution: The ProMedia 2.1 Wireless uses a USB transmitter to send audio from the host PC to the speakers over the airwaves. The speakers themselves are all hardwired, with the amplifier tucked inside the subwoofer. And lordy, what a subwoofer it is. There’s a 6.5-inch long-throw, side-firing driver housed inside a bass-reflex enclosure with a front port. The sub cabinet also houses the wireless receiver and the 200-watt amplifier that powers all three channels. Klipsch claims line-of-sight range of 30 feet and our experience backs that up. If you’re looking for a wireless audio system that will send audio from a computer in one room to speakers in another, this isn’t the right solution.