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Posts Tagged ‘Wireless’

Netgear N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (WNDR4500)

April 9th, 2012 No comments

4 stars
NETGEAR N900 WNDR4500

Netgear has been on a roll with their wireless routers of late. The N600 (WNDR3700), released a couple of years ago, was very popular for its performance and value. The N900 ups the ante with 450Mbps throughput on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and is the fastest-rated router offered by Netgear. All that performance comes at a cost, however; the N900 sells for just under $200.

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Veebeam HD Wireless USB Media Streamer

May 23rd, 2011 No comments

3 Stars- techdad
Veebeam HD Front

In the new age of streaming multimedia, there is no shortage of devices and services vying for the attention of consumers. Veebeam is a relative newcomer in the space with a little twist. Veebeam’s device differs from devices like the Apple TV, Boxee, or Roku, in that it works in conjunction with your PC. It also uses a new wireless standard called Wireless USB. Let me walk you through how the Veebeam works and whether or not you should consider getting one.

PROS

  • Simple setup
  • Thoughtful design
  • Flexible streaming options

CONS

  • Requires a powerful PC
  • Problems with judder (stuttering)
  • Poor solution for presentations
  • Impossible to use for gaming
  • Short wireless range limited to same-room location

HOW IT WORKS
The Veebeam comes with a receiver unit that you connect to your TV or home theater system and a wireless USB dongle that you plug into your laptop. You then install the Veebeam software to you laptop, which acts as a screencasting server. To send a media stream to your TV, you just launch the Veebeam software and wait for it to connect to your TV, then start your music, launch your picture slide show or play your videos.

WHAT YOU GET
Veebeam HD Contents
The Veebeam HD comes with the receiver unit, wireless USB dongle, a set of RCA cables, and power adapter. If you want to stream in HD, you will need to provide your own HDMI cable.

INSTALLATION
Installation of the Veebeam was relatively easy. I connected the receiver to my TV and installed the Veebeam software on my laptop. The Wireless USB dongle installed without a hitch. I did have to add a rule in my software-based firewall to allow Veebeam to work but Veebeam’s website had directions on doing this for several popular security applications.

BUILD & DESIGN
Veebeam HD Back

The receiver unit has a very funky, Star Trek-like design. Is it Klingon? I can’t say for sure, but I can say that it was thoughtfully designed. The front of the receiver unit has a dock for the Wireless USB dongle. When the dongle is removed, it automatically turns the receiver on. When you put the dongle back, it turns the receiver off. There are no power buttons to play with. The back of the receiver has a good selection of outputs. It has standard RCA jacks for connecting to a standard definition TV, an HDMI port, an optical audio out and two USB ports for future use (webcam and USB storage). The receiver is made entirely of plastic that is light, but doesn’t feel cheap. There are also a lot of ventilation holes to keep it cool. The wireless USB dongle is fairly wide and has an antenna that can be placed upright. With the antenna up, the dongle is slightly wider than a standard USB flash drive. It has a glossy finish that looks attractive but gets dusty and attracts fingerprints.

PERFORMANCE
Veebeam Compatibility Test
The Veebeam HD is compatible with Mac OS X and Windows XP/Vista/7. It requires at least a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor but doesn’t list memory or graphics card requirements. I tested the Veebeam with a laptop with the following specifications:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz
  • 4GB RAM
  • Integrated Intel graphics
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

Given that the laptop exceeded the only real requirement listed, I felt confident that performance would not be an issue. Unfortunately, I was wrong. My initial test results were less than ideal. Out of curiosity, I decided to run Veebeam’s compatibility testing application. As you can see from the screenshot, my laptop did not meet the Veebeam’s requirements for HD streaming. The laptop exceeded their minimum requirements but I was disappointed to learn that I’d be limited to SD streams only. What made things worse was that when I did try to stream in SD, I still experienced performance issues.

The two streaming sources that I felt would be ideal to use with the Veebeam were Hulu and Netflix. Veebeam is an ideal solution because there are no worries about content providers banning their streams on devices, unlike Google TV and Boxee. Alas, Netflix failed terribly on my laptop because there was no way for me to downgrade the resolution. Netflix automatically detects the best possible resolution, which on my laptop, is HD. When I tried to watch Netflix, I experienced severe judder (stuttering). This happened whether I used Firefox, Chrome, or IE9 and regardless of whether it was in full screen or not. Hulu was pretty much the same story, but unlike Netflix, I could fiddle with the resolution of the stream. The best balance was achieved at 240p in full screen. The interesting part was that I could watch streams easily in 720p, when I didn’t enable full screen. In that case, the video looked amazing. This obviously isn’t ideal since you want to be able to watch streams in full screen on your TV without the distraction of your web browser’s frame.

Veebeam Player

Local video files didn’t fare much better. I tried DivX, AVI and DVD movies and they all had so much judder that by the time I finished testing, I felt nauseous. It’s about how I felt after watching Blair Witch Project. The only time I could watch a stream in full screen without judder, was when I used the Veebeam player.

SUPPORT
Veebeam Settings

Currently, Veebeam support is limited to chat support and an email form. Chat support’s hours are 7AM-3PM Pacific Time. Via a form on Veebeam’s website, you can also request a callback. I elected to use the form to email them and they were prompt in replying and eager to help. The Veebeam is so easy to set up and use that I don’t think most people will need to go beyond reading the manual and FAQ.

MISC
In order to use the Veebeam system, both the receiver and the laptop need to be in the same room. Range is limited to a maximum of 30 feet.

Windows Media Center is not supported in full screen at all. You’ll just get a blank screen. Windows Media Player also has a problem where a visible horizontal line splits the screen. Veebeam recommends using Quicktime or VLC to circumvent this issue until it can be resolved.

There is an advertised two second lag between your laptop and TV. This all but rules out using Veebeam for presentations or gaming.

CONCLUSION
The Veebeam HD Wireless USB Media streaming device has a lot going for it. It is well-designed, easy to install, and has more flexibility than other standalone devices like the WDTV, Google TV, Boxee, etc. However, underpowered laptops need not apply here. Though my laptop exceeded the minimum system requirements, I experienced severe judder (stutter). I recommend using a beefy laptop with the Veebeam and running the compatibility test before buying it to make sure it passes. The Veebeam has loads of potential and I can’t wait to see what features and improvements come down the line.

Available from Amazon.com.

* Review unit courtesy of Veebeam

Categories: Reviews Tags: , ,

How-To Wirelessly Sync Music On Android Phones Without Buying An App

March 3rd, 2011 No comments

Wireless Music Sync on Android
Android phones are landing in the homes of about 300,000 users per day. What are those users doing with their new smartphones? Listening to music, of course. Apps like Pandora or Slacker Music get lots of love for audio streaming. You can listen to your own music collection too, but you need to get it from your PC to your phone first. You could sync your music the old fashioned way, using a USB cable, installing drivers and connecting it to your PC– or sync it the 2011 way, wirelessly.

Winamp is the best free Android app I’ve found for wirelessly syncing music. It’s simple to set up and easy to use. Here’s how to get it to sync your tunes, sans cables.

Install Winamp for Windows

You’ll first want to go download Winamp for your Windows PC and install it. After install, either import your iTunes library or add your non-iTunes media to the Winamp library. It’s important that you grab at least version 5.6 since older versions don’t support Wi-Fi Sync. You can go get it at http://www.winamp.com/media-player/en. Once you have your Winamp library set up, it’s time to get Winamp for Android.

Install Winamp for Android

Winamp Android Market

Easy to find Winamp in the Android Market.

Launch the Android Market app and search for Winamp. Once you’ve found it, go ahead and install it to your phone. Winamp for Android only works on Android 2.1 and higher. When you launch Winamp for Android the first time, you’ll be prompted with a choice to configure Wi-Fi Sync. Select the button for Wi-Fi Sync to begin configuring it.

 

 

 

Configure Winamp for Android

Winamp Android Wi-Fi Sync Setup

Simple Wi-Fi Sync setup.

Once in Wi-Fi Sync Setup, you’ll want to run through each step to make sure your phone is configured. Step 1 enables Wi-Fi Sync on your phone. Step 2 verifies that your phone is connected to your Wi-Fi network. Step 3 allows you to send a link to download Winamp for Windows to your email account. Since I already told you to where to download it, you can ignore Step 3 and select “OK.”

 

 

 

 

 
Attach Your Android Phone to Winamp

Now that Winamp’s installed on your phone and your PC, you’ll want to “attach” your phone to your PC so they can start syncing. When you start Winamp for Windows, you should see your Android phone in the Discovered area of the Devices view.

Winamp Wi-Fi Pairing

Click "Allow" to complete Wi-Fi pairing of your phone to your PC.

Winamp Windows Discover

Your phone should show up in the Discovered area.

Double-click on your phone graphic to send a pairing request to your phone. On your phone, select “Allow”, which should move your phone from the Discovered area to the Attached area. Now you’re ready to start syncing your music to your phone.

Winamp Windows Attached

Once paired, your phone should end up in the Attached area.

Wirelessly Sync Your Music

The simplest way to transfer your music is to drag it from the Winamp library to your device icon. This can be a single song, an entire album, or everything from an artist. Once you drag the music over, Winamp will begin syncing it to your phone. Playlist synchronization is also supported.

Winamp Windows Syncing

Drag & drop music to your device to initiate synchronization.

Winamp can be further configured to your liking from your PC by right-clicking on your phone device graphic and selecting “Preferences.”

That’s it! Enjoy the freedom of wireless music syncing on your Android phone. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.

 

Categories: How To Tags: , , , ,