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Tech related articles and news.

03

Dec 2013

How to Choose Home Wifi Router

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So, you’re looking for a router? Purchasing a wireless router can be tough. Initially, every router seems to look identical to one another and you assume that all of them provide the same functionality.  However, there are numerous wireless router models exist and each of them possess its own set of unique characteristics.  Certain features as speed, warranty, and cost are a few of the considerations everyone has when purchasing a new router. Here are the details.

How does a router work?

A router simply allows you to connect multiple devices to the same IP address. The router takes the information sent to and from your computer(s) and the Internet and forwards that information to the correct destination. Without a router or switch, it would be impossible for your Internet modem to send a web page or software you’ve downloaded to the correct device with multiple computers connected. The router actually creates a “fake” unique IP address for each device on the network. The reason we call it fake is because that IP address only matters on the network to which that device belongs. The rest of the world can only access the IP address of your modem, which talks directly to the router. So if they all do the same thing, how is each router different?

Router Speed

Wireless routers measure their speed in megabits per second and usually come in slow, average and fast models.  Older models offer about 11 Mbps, mid-range ones 54 Mbps, and the faster routers can claim up to 450 Mbps.  Most buyers are tempted to think that router speed is the most important quality of a router and will make their connections faster, but this is actually not the case.  High speed routers cannot directly speed up an internet connection and any extra boost from the router might not be worth the extra cost.  So consider some of these other categories before blindly purchasing the more expense router with maximum speed ratings.

Also, the speed of a router depends on its processor. If you think of a router as a mini version of a computer, there’s a central processing unit (CPU) that it uses to carry out every function it requires. The CPUs of routers, as in PC’s and Mac’s, varies from brand to brand and model to model.

Router Warranties

Most routers usually come with a warranty package together with their equipment, don’t buy one that doesn’t!  The length and terms of each router’s warranties vary widely.  A better warranty may indicate a manufacturer more committed to support their products, while a lesser warranty could indicate the company feels there product is of a lesser standard. Always consider the warranty, as not only is useful for when the product fails, it may also indicate the quality of the product.

Router Reviews

There is a huge selection of review sites across the web that allow for anonymous reviews on products, such as routers. These product reviews  can potentially be quite helpful and informative. However, sometimes they are filled with garbage that can’t be trusted.  Anyone can post a review of a product, but how are we the purchaser to know they truly have our best interest in mind?  The answer is we don’t.  For all we know, the reviewer could be a plant or an employee of a rival product, who gives a glaring review in order to deter us from making a purchase. The same goes for overly positive reviews, what if that person works for the company’s marketing team?  There is no way to know for sure, so don’t take every horror story as the gospel.

Router Cost

Some manufactures offer a rebate on the full price of their products, so don’t necessarily dismiss a router due to its initial price.  Also, much like used cars, older routers may be able to serve your needs as adequately as a new one for a cheaper price.  Many companies continue to update the firm ware on routers, even after they release new versions, so an older model can be a great deal.  Be sure to shop around as many electronics stores and websites as possible before you make a purchase as there are some great deals out there.

Image use courtesy of Olivier Bruchez under the creative commons license.

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23

Oct 2013

iPad Air Apple’s New iPad

Posted by / in Mobile, News, Tech / No comments yet

October 22, 2013 marks the day Apple announced the release of its latest version of the iPad – the iPad Air. Apple stated in its press release that the Wifi-only models of the iPad Air will be available for sale beginning November 1, 2013. Apple users and iPad lovers everywhere may have expected the previous naming conventions of Apple’s tablet to be termed the iPad 5. However, it seems as though Apple chose to market the new iPad Air for its improved design and portability, rather than marketing the device as an improved version of the iPad with Retina Display(also referred to as the iPad 4).

iPad Air Features

The newest feature of the iPad Air is undoubtedly in its design. Apple chose to deliver the iPad Air with a remarkably similar body structure as the iPad Mini. Unlike the iPad with Retina Display or the iPad 2, the iPad Air’s box-like design may have aided in its becoming the most portable 10 inch tablet on the market today. Now, it’s difficult to differentiate the iPad Mini from the full-sized version of the tablet. The iPad is now 20% thinner, 28% lighter, and weighs only 1 pound.

The new iPad Air has also paved the way for tablet processors and power. The mobile device comes with the same A7 processor and M7 coprocessor that is now available in the iPhone 5s. The new M7 processor is the first mobile processor to utilize a 64-bit architecture. Paired with the eye-catching retina display, iPad users can now experience incredible graphics and visual displays with lighting speed.

iPad Air Pricing

The new iPad Air will maintain the same price as its predecessors. One part of the iPad that has remained relatively stable over models is Apple’s consistent pricing structure. The tables below show the suggested retail prices that consumers are likely to encounter when purchasing the new tablet.

Wi-Fi Only Models

Version Price
16GB $499
32GB $599
64GB $699
128GB $799

Wi-Fi + 3G Models

Version Price
16GB $629
32GB $729
64GB $829
128GB $929

Improvements Over the Previous iPad Versions

Processor. iPad users can look forward to the revolutionary A7 processor in the new iPad Air. The A7 processor is the first 64-bit processor for mobile devices, including tablets and smart phones. The new processor also supports OpenGL ES version 3.0. Open GL ES version 3.0 allows the new iPad to produce detailed graphics and visual effects once possible only on desktop computers and game consoles. The faster processor is paired with the M7 coprocessor, which helps to alleviate the load of the device’s peripheral components, such as accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass. This gives the A7 the ability to focus on making apps load faster and gaming more responsive to touch and movement.

Portability. The new iPad Air is the lightest, thinnest tablet currently available. Portability is the one area in mobile device design that Apple continually outshines its would-be competitors. Even with the marginal improvements in performance and functionality, the new iPad continues to boast up to 10 hours of uninterrupted battery use.

Disappointments

No Fingerprint Reader. Many Apple followers may have expected the new iPad to come standard with the same new technology that was released with the new iPhone 5s. However, it seems like the latest version of Apple’s mainstream devices won’t come with the new fingerprint reader. The fingerprint reader is thought of by analysts to potentially revolutionize security if mobile devices.

Same Display. While the retina display was truly an amazing addition to the iPad family, the iPad air shares the identical screen size, specifications, resolution, and pixel density as the iPad 4. It’s unclear why this is the case, when the new iPad Mini with Retina Display boasts a much higher pixel density at 326 pixels per inch(ppi).

iPad Air Technical Specifications

Size and Weight

  • Height: 9.4 inches (240 mm)
  • Width: 6.6 inches (169.5 mm)
  • Depth: 0.29 inch (7.5 mm)
  • Weight: 1 pound (469 g)

Display

  • Retina display
  • 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
  • 2048-by-1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi)
  • Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating

Processor

  • A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor

RAM

  • Unknown

Wireless Carriers

  • Sprint
  • TMobile
  • AT&T
  • Verizon

Rear Camera

  • 5MP photos
  • Autofocus
  • Face detection
  • Backside illumination
  • Five-element lens
  • Hybrid IR filter
  • ƒ/2.4 aperture
  • HDR photos

Front-Facing Camera

  • 1.2MP photos
  • 720p HD video
  • FaceTime video calling over Wi‑Fi or cellular3
  • Face detection
  • Backside illumination

Connector

  • Lightning

Summary of the new iPad Air

The new iPad Air can be compared to Apple’s release of the new iPhone 5s – marginal. Once again this year we’ve seen Apple release a subsequent model of a mobile device that offers little improvement over its predecessor.

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