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Netgear R6300 802.11ac Router

October 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

It  is expensive & ugly, but the Netgear R6300 router delivers groundbreaking performance.

 

  • By Gordon Kelly
  • 30 September 2012

Score 8/10

Pros
Ground breaking 802.11ac & 802.11n performance
Class leading wireless range
Two USB ports
Powerful parental controls

Cons
Bulky, uninspiring design
Expensive
No Netgear Cloud platform – yet

Key Features: 802.11ac WiFi; WPS Security & Parental Controls; Dual band 802.11n (2.4GHz & 5GHz); 4x Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 2.0

Introduction
A question asked of the Netgear R6300 802.11ac Router is one that is ask commonly by any technology reviewer: should I buy now? The implication being technology changes constantly and no-one wants to pay good money for a product which will soon be out of date. The follow up question is inevitably: but will it make any difference to me? Meaning are the advantages something from which a mainstream user will really benefit? With wireless networking currently undergoing its biggest step forward in five years we can give two answers: 1. Nearly 2. Absolutely.

For those not in the know, the big change coming is ‘802.11ac’ Wi-Fi, the successor to 802.11n which promises a theoretical bandwidth of up to 1Gbit per second and real world performance of up to 3x its predecessor. Technically the standard remains in draft but, like Draft 802.11n, manufacturers have grown weary of waiting and promise a simple firmware update will make all draft routers fully compatible with the final standard. This was true last time around, and we have little reason to question it this time.

Furthermore we have already seen a glimpse of its potential from the Buffalo AirStation 1750, the first 802.11ac router we’ve had on test, and now networking giant Netgear is ready to excite us once again.

Design
The Netgear R6300 802.11ac Router is the model Netgear hopes will achieve this, but we can’t say our heart was racing when we took it out of the box. Visually the Netgear R6300 looks much like the older Netgear WNDR4700: a bulky slab of piano black plastic as big as an 11-inch ultrabook and which can only sit on its side. What’s more the R6300 comes with a hulking power brick, though at least the cable is long enough to allow for optimum positioning. Meanwhile connections are fairly standard: 4x Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi on/off and WPS buttons, though you do get two USB 2.0 ports for networking both a printer and a hard drive. There are also strong parental controls with the ability to block up to 50 categories of Internet content.

Features
Along with its 802.11ac Wi-Fi (which operates in the 5GHz band) there is dual band 802.11n (backwards compatible with 802.11a/b/g) operating in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums simultaneously. Such a range of frequencies could be baffling to novice users, but Netgear’s Genie control dashboard is both attractive and intuitive and certainly a huge step up from the text heavy tables of the Buffalo AirStation 1750. Happily Netgear also offers Genie as an app for iOS and Android… This is a sample, read the full review on TrustedReviews


Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Tech’s Biggest Cases of Humble Pie

October 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Tim Cook’s humble apology for Apple Maps isn’t the first by a tech giant and won’t be the last. 

 

  • By Gordon Kelly
  • 29 September 2012

“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.”

On Friday Apple CEO Tim Cook made the apology few expected. He admitted the company’s hugely controversial iOS6 Maps were not up to scratch. It was an honest admission few had expected. More surprising, however, was Cook’s decision to go a step further and suggest third party alternatives: “While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.” Yes, he included Google.

All of which got us thinking? What are some of the most notorious cases of technology giants eating a fat slice of humble pie?

Microsoft on Windows Vista Failings
Steve Ballmer may be wondering if Cook’s admission opens up a chink Windows Phone can exploit with its licensing of the excellent Nokia Maps, but it wasn’t so long ago he was also paying penance and on a much larger product – Windows Vista.

“It was just not executed well, not the product itself, but we went a gap of about five, six years without a product. I think back now, and I think about thousands of man-years and it wasn’t because we were wrong-minded and thinking bad thoughts and not pushing innovation. We tried too big a task, and in the process wound up losing essentially thousands of man-years of innovation capability.”

Another stunning mea culpa and it was justified given the 5 1/2 year development time and the widely held opinion it wasn’t until service pack two was released in mid 2009 (two years after release) that Vista finally matured. The problem? Ballmer’s apology didn’t come until May 2010.

Sony on PSN Outage
Name, address, password, payment details, purchase history and profile data were among the user information exposed when Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity entertainment service were hacked in April 2011. 77 million customers were affected in one of the biggest data breaches in history and full restoration of all services took 24 days. It exposed fundamental weaknesses in Sony’s security format and the company was attacked repeatedly during this time… This is a sample, read the full editorial at TrustedReviews

 
Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

 

 


Creative Sound BlasterAxx SBX 20

October 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews


Creative’s first tower speaker range integrates hands-free calls and noise cancelling.

  • By Gordon Kelly
  • 26 September 2012

Score 6/10

Pros
Lots of functionality
Powered over USB
Clear hands-free voice calls

Cons
Weak low and midrange performance
Low volume
Expensive

Key Features: Bluetooth streaming; Hands-free phone calls; Noise cancelling technology; Powered over USB

Introduction
Convergence has its success stories, but it also has its fair share of victims. The desperation to fold as much functionality as possible into a single product can often be done at the expense of core competency. Not that we’d expect such a mistake to be made by an audio veteran like Creative, would we? Would we…

The Creative Sound BlasterAxx SBX 20 is the flagship model in Creative’s new Sound BlasterAxx range of multifunctional tower speakers which aims to be all things to all people. It comes with a rather premium £180 price tag and promises to reinvent (semi) portable audio with a next generation quad core SB-AXX1 sound processing chip, dual microphones with noise cancellation and Bluetooth for wireless streaming. The semi-portable part comes from the fact that the SBX 20 takes its power from a single USB port – no power brick required.

Features
Breaking the Creative Sound BlasterAxx SBX 20s down and on the audio front Creative claims the incorporated SB-AXX1 chip is its most advanced multi-core voice and audio effects processor to date, and one which powers two vertically aligned drivers which keep the speakers desktop footprint to a minimum. Creative also says key to the SB-AXXI is low power consumption and efficient circuitry, hence its ability to operate over USB, though it feels like a lost opportunity to fit a battery.

Being Creative, the ability to tinker with your audio is central too and this comes via the Sound Blaster Control Panel – available for PC and Mac as well as an app for the iPhone and Android smartphones. This offers a raft of effects enhancements for music, films and gaming with an array of presets and proprietary sound technologies including the ‘SBX Crystalizer’ (high and low frequency enhancement), ‘SBX Surround’ (pseudo-surround sound) and ‘SBX Smart Volume’ (automatic adjustment of volume for consistent listening levels with a night mode to reduce the impact of explosions and bursts of sound, reducing disturbance to others after hours).

The list goes on with ‘SBX Dialog Plus’ (enhancement of human voices in movies and games) and ‘SBX Bass’ (low frequency compensation for extra punch). The SB-AXXI doesn’t only plan to replace your speakers, however, it also wants to be your defacto device for hands-free calls… This is a sample, read the full review on TrustedReviews.

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

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