While connecting to a wireless network can be as simple as a few button presses or taps, there is a lot that goes into making the bits magically travel through the ether. We’re going to take a look at some of the building blocks that go into making your wireless network stable and fast, with an eye toward security and standards. We’ll also look at some of the devices that can improve your wireless network, and ways you can use your Wi-Fi capability while away from home.
If you're like most of us, it's unlikely that hackers have much interest in intercepting what you're typing. Still, with schematics and software to build keyboard sniffers readily available, it's nice to know you're protected from ne'er-do-wells, and Microsoft aims to give you that sense of security with its Wireless Desktop 2000. While it won't keep your cubicle mate from looking over your shoulder, it does use 128-bit AES encryption to keep your keystrokes a secret and your paranoia at bay.
Have you always had a hankering for some home automation, but felt that the technology was either too expensive or too complicated to install? Throw that excuse out the window. Starting today, Verizon is offering a $10/mo. service (plus the cost of the installation kit) that will let you remotely change your house’s temperature, track energy usage, turn lights and appliances on and off, watch a video feed of your home, and heck, even unlock the front door if you want – all via your web-connected PC, smartphone or FiOS TV. Sigma Design’s Z-Wave technology powers the system.
iHome manufactures dozens of Apple-oriented audio devices, ranging from headphones to speaker docks. The AirPlay-capable iW1 wireless speaker is by far the company’s most advanced product, but its $300 price tag pits it against some tough competition, including the Sonos Play:3.
Reports today are indicating that AT&T really doesn’t want its acquisition of T-Mobile to fall through, and is going so far as to consider a large asset sale to seal the deal with regulators. Ma Bell is quietly chatting up smaller competitors like MetroPCS and Leap Wireless to sell spectrum and subscribers, according to sources.
It's been more than a year since we anointed Netgear's Rangemax WNDR3700 (N600) as our "Best of the Best" pick for wireless routers, and to this day, its overall performance has been unmatched. Even Netgear's own WNDR4000 (aka the N750, because it supports theoretical speeds of 300Mb/sec on its 2.4GHz radio and 450Mb/sec on its 5GHz radio) couldn't topple its predecessor. The WNDR4000 scored a rather pedestrian 6 verdict compared to the WNDR3700's 9/Kick-Ass. Netgear might finally have a worthy successor in the WNDR4500 (aka, the N900 because—you guessed it—the router supports theoretical speeds of 450Mb/sec on both the 2.4- and 5GHz bands).
Inexpensive wireless routers have rendered powerline adapters a niche category in home networks, and one TrendNet continues to happily serve. The company's latest offering is the 200Mbps Compact Powerline AV Adapter, model TPL-306E, which is capable of extending your Internet connection to areas your router might not reach, such as an Internet television in your mancave or a game console just out of reach on the second floor.
Toshiba just trotted out what it claims is the world's first SDHC memory card with embedded wireless LAN functionality baked in. It's called the FlashAir, it has 8GB of storage capacity, and it sounds an awful lot like the Eye-Fi line of SDHC cards, doesn't it? In some respects, the FlashAir is similar, but it's also different in one very big way.
If you listen to environmentalists and home building experts, the future of lighting lies in LEDs (Sorry to break it to you, CFL bulbs). But could LEDs also hold the key to the future of wireless home networking? Yeah, it sounds weird, but scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications in Berlin got the bright idea to try and create a WLAN using nothing more than standard LED bulbs and "a few additional components." And you know what? It worked, and it worked well.
For years, if you wanted a cool looking, high-end gaming machine but didn't feel like spending dozens of DIY hours on a badass custom rig, the odds were good that you settled on an Alienware (assuming you could afford one). Now, the gaming PC field has been blown wide open, with several different vendors offering powerful, Battlefield 3-ready set-ups. If you're Alienware, how do you make yourself stand out from the crowd? By staying cutting-edge. Starting today, you can snag one of Bigfoot's "Killer" line of gaming-optimized network adapters with your new Alienware laptop.