Nov 18 2014

Review - Thecus N2560 2-Drive NAS System

Back in April, we took a look at the 5-Bay NAS N5550 from Thecus, which was one of their first NAS units including an HDMI port to allow hybrid functionality by combining the reliability of a NAS with some of the features of a dedicated HTPC (home theater PC).  With conventional hard drives reaching 6TB these days, support for five disks is unnecessary for many buyers , so Thecus has released a two-bay version of their NAS, the N2560. Available in white, this two drive NAS also includes an HDMI port but has a much smaller footprint, which increases the installation flexibility and reducies the potential for noise pollution, alongside a much more affordable price.

 

DEVICE

There are some similarities between the N5550 and the N2560 below, but for the most part the capabilities from an XBMC perspective should be identical. The biggest difference is the drop in clock speed—down from 1.86GHz to an Intel Atom CE5335 system on a chip (SoC) running at 1.6GHz. The N2560 is a lot quieter running as it doesn’t have a full power supply unit (PSU) like the N5550 had, so the only noise generated is from the single 120mm exhaust fan and the hard drives themselves.

 

 

Item

Spec

Processor

Intel® Atom™CE5335 (1.6GHz Dual Core)

System Memory

2GB DDR3

Nov 17 2014

Review - D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900 Dual-Band Gigabit Cloud Router

D-Link DIR-880L

It isn’t safe to call it a glut, but we are increasingly spoiled for choice when it comes to 802.11AC routers. Choice is never a bad thing so it was great to see D-Link bringing an AC1900 (1300Mbps 5GHz + 600Mbps 2.4GHz) entrant, the DIR-880L, into the fray. At $175 street ($209 SRP) this wireless router/bridge is $10-$20 cheaper than its rivals from the other major networking OEMs, but offers almost exactly the same features set: 1GHz dual-core Broadcom (BCM4708A) SOC, attached storage via USB 2.0/3.0, three stream 802.11AC, four (LAN) + one (WAN) Gigabit Ethernet. If it can also match the stability and performance, D-Link will have a winner on their hands.

Nov 12 2014

News - ZigBee v. Bluetooth Mesh - Fight!?

There was a time when the whole ZigBee v. Bluetooth (BT) question would have been kind of silly. BT was very capable, but its power characteristics made unsuitable for the types of devices that a Home Automation (HA) protocol like ZigBee is intended to address. That has changed significantly over the last couple years, with BT LE (Low Energy) taking on RF4CE and now with BT Mesh entering the mix. How these protocols compete and complement each is an interesting topic for anyone who likes to stay on top of the specifics of how the HA market is developing.

With that in mind, GreenPeak Technologies just released a whitepaper where they address this topic, albeit from the perspective of a ZigBee player. Either way, it makes for an interesting read.

“A decade ago, WiFi and Bluetooth battled but ended up sharing the home networking space and successfully growing the market to where both technologies are now found everywhere,” explains Cees Links, CEO of GreenPeak Technologies. “The battle is brewing again as Bluetooth Mesh is now attempting to move from the sensor wearable space into the ultra-low power sensor networking space, today successfully served by ZigBee. However, it will take a lot of work to evolve Bluetooth Mesh to the position where it can provide the functions and capabilities that ZigBee already provides today. So why confuse and divide the market?”

GreenPeak

 

Nov 05 2014

News - NETGEAR Announces Arlo Smart Home Security Kit (VMS3230)

NETGEAR arlo

The rapid expansion of products in the Home Automation (HA) space this year has been amazing. As the “Internet of Things” gains ground, OEMs who have only dabbled in the past are focusing more on delivering holistic solutions. Today, NETGEAR becomes one of these vendors with their Arlo product line. Currently this only manifests as wireless video monitoring solution that leverages an 802.11N base station (hub) to provide the link between local cameras and Cloud (aka remote Internet) based  monitoring intelligence, but should expand over time to incorporate more of what we expect from a true HA system.

Oct 13 2014

Review - D-Link Dual Band AC1200 802.11AC (DAP-1650) Gigabit Range Extender

D-Link DAP-1650 AC1200

For me, the most interesting thing about 802.11AC Wi-Fi comes down to bandwidth. While it can’t quite deliver the same speed and bullet-proof reliability as a full Cat6 wired installation, its capability comes at a fraction of the cost and much greater flexibility; dropping in an AC1750+ router + media bridge enables the same kind of "heavy" media consumption possibilities without the hassle of running wire. A few months ago, while still a cheaper alternative, it still wasn’t exactly "cheap" to add this capability to your home – with most vendors only offering run-a-second-router-as-a-bridge solutions. Fortunately, as the AC market has matured so has the supporting ecosystem, bringing two-stream "AC1200" (867Mbps 5GHz + 300Mbps 2.4GHz) bridges into play. Offering a four Gigabit Ethernet 802.11AC Wi-Fi Extender (bridge) the D-Link’s DAP-1650 is not alone in this group, but at $90 it is one of the most affordable. 

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