Expose of 802.11ax from Digital TrendsBefore the current Wi-Fi standard, called 802.11ac, wireless broadband was never quite robust enough: Too many devices were vying for your limited, inefficiently distributed bandwidth. This latest standard has proven faster and more reliable, and WiGig and mesh networking will help. But with the ever-increasing proliferation of Wi-Fi devices — PCs, smartphones, tablets, webcams, printers, wearables, refrigerators, and more — it won’t be long until we’re playing catch up again.

According to estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the number of internet-connected gadgets for an average family of four is now at 10 per household. The cross-government trade group estimates that number will reach 50 wirelessly connected devices by 2022 — all competing for the same bandwidth, over the same connection.

The 6th generation of Wi-Fi has been certified.

“The Wi-Fi device and traffic explosion, higher density Wi-Fi deployments, growing use of outdoor Wi-Fi, and the need to support a great variety of different device types will require more efficient Wi-Fi implementations that can help to deliver richer experiences for enterprise and consumer applications that are hungry for bandwidth,” according to Andrew Zignani, Senior Analyst at ABI Research.

The good news in all this is that the people who tend to Wi-Fi standards haven’t been idle. The 6th generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11ax, has been certified, and new products based on the standard are underway. Broadcom, a maker of circuit boards and other gizmos that drive today’s information technology, has just announced Max Wifi, the first 802.11ax chips designed for use in routers for homes and businesses, as well as wireless gadgets such as smartphones and tablets.

The need for massive increases in bandwidth and throughput is upon us. The question is, is 802.11ax enough, or is it too little too late?

Read the entire article at Digital Trends


 

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Op-Ed on the new Bluetooth Mesh protocol at Digital TrendsYes, current Wi-Fi-based smart home technology can turn on the lights with your smartphone or voice. But do you call that home automation, really? Isn’t it just a slightly more convenient light switch?

How about this? When you unlock your front door, the lights in the foyer come on, the motion sensors on your alarm system turn off, the thermostat starts the air conditioning, and your entertainment system begins playing your favorite music—all before you put your keys down!

Now that’s home automation, right?

What about a more serious, or potentially life-and-death scenario, where hospital staff could track patients, staff members, and equipment from any console, PC, or tablet on the premises?

While the best Wi-Fi systems allow us to take baby steps into building automation, wireless security, asset tracking, and more, a new technology called Bluetooth Mesh — an update to the standard Bluetooth wireless solution that most of us know — promises a better, more efficient, and much less expensive solution.

“As people’s expectations for networks go up, they demand networks capable of handling hundreds (or thousands) of IP addresses, offering Wi-Fi-level of signal performance across the house and building,” Daniel Cooley, Senior Vice President of Silicon Labs, told Digital Trends. “People won’t put up with flaky Wi-Fi anymore. If they can get away with fewer antennas, it would be much better.”

Cooley is a member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, or SIG, which oversees and develops Bluetooth technology. If he’s right—and industry watchers and makers of networking equipment are betting that he is—many aspects of our lives will soon be secured and simplified by this latest Bluetooth update.

Read the entire article at Digital Trends


 

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  • https://assets.pcmag.com/media/images/551745-brother-ql-810w.jpg?thumb=y&width=1659&height=1500PROS

    Respectable print quality. Prints in black and red. Prints labels fast. Terrific label design. Great print software and robust mobile app. Wide selection of label types.

  • CONS

    Per-label cost is high. Battery costs extra. Ability to print in red limited to one label type. QL-820NWB offers much more for not a lot more money.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Brother QL-810W label maker prints a wide variety of high-quality label types from your PC or mobile device, but its higher-end sibling provides significantly more features and versatility for just a little more money.

The Brother QL-810W ($149.99) label printer is a step down from the recent Editors’ Choice QL-820NWB. Although these two labelers essentially print the same types of labels at the same speeds over wireless networks or from mobile devices, what you give up feature-wise for the $50 list price difference between them is significant. With the QL-810W, for instance, you forgo a few different types of connectivity options, as well as the ability to use the label maker apart from a computing device. Overall, though, the Q-810W is a versatile and capable option, well worth considering for designing and printing many types of business labels via Wi-Fi, or from your team’s tablets and smartphones.
Read the entire review at PCMag
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Review of the Altia Systems PanCast 2 at Digital TrendsLogitech’s Brio 4K Webcam briefly had bragging rights as the maker of the only 4K Webcam, but Altia Systems’ Panacast 2 has changed that—and then some. Perhaps to sophisticated be called a mere “webcam,” — Altia calls it a “camera system” — it’s $1,000 price tag relegates it to businesses, and the most dedicated video conferencing consumers. This is a webcam on steroids

It promises a 180-degree coverage area with automatic panoramic zooming and exceptionally clear video. It’s also small and elegant in appearance. Unfortunately, the zooming feature costs extra, as does a very slick add-on called Whiteboard that automatically centers on a whiteboard during, well, a whiteboard presentation. As our Panacast 2 Camera System review will show, this gadget is high-tech and impressive — but by the time you get it decked out the way you want it, it could cost you about $1,350. For most individuals, (and even most companies) this is the kind of investment that requires serious consideration.

Read the entire review at Digital Trends


 

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  • Review of the Visioneer Patriot H80 document scanner at PCMagPROS

    Very fast scanning and saving to PDF. Above-average OCR accuracy. 10,000-page daily duty cycle. Comprehensive software bundle includes PDF creation and editing and document management software.

  • CONS

    Pricey. Not notably faster than much-less-expensive sibling.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    A remarkably fast workhorse document scanner, the Visioneer Patriot H80 is quicker and more accurate than most of its competitors, including its slightly lower-rated, less-expensive Patriot H60 sibling—but not enough to justify a hefty price difference.

Aside from a higher price and faster scanning speeds, the Visioneer Patriot H80 ($1,595) is identical to the Editors’ Choice Visioneer Patriot H60. Both sheet-feed document scanners have the same daily duty cycles, the same size automatic document feeders (ADFs), and they come with the same software bundle. In addition, both machines are quite fast, even when scanning and saving to searchable PDF. As sheet-feed document scanners go, the Patriot H80 is one of the fastest, and it’s highly accurate, making it well-suited for medium-to-heavy volume scanning in small- or mid-size offices and workgroups, but unless you need all the speed you can possibly get, the huge price difference between it and its less-expensive sibling seems excessive.

Read the entire review at PCMag

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  • Review of the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4730 at PCMagPROS

    Excellent print quality overall. Relatively fast. Competitively low running costs. Supports Wi-Fi Direct and NFC. Light and compact.

  • CONS

    No multipurpose tray. Non-auto-duplexing ADF.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    Epson’s WorkForce Pro WF-4730 all-in-one inkjet is fast and capable, and it supports just about every mobile connectivity feature available, but an auto-duplexing ADF would make it more attractive.

Positioned between two Editors’ Choice recipients, the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4720 and the WorkForce Pro WF-4740, the WorkForce Pro WF-4730 ($199.99) is a step up from the former and a step down from the latter. Like its siblings, the WF-4730 inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printer produces great output, and it is fast for its class. It provides higher paper input capacity than the WF-4720, but its automatic document feeder (ADF) is smaller than the WF-4740’s, and it’s incapable of automatic two-sided scanning, whereas the WF-4740’s auto-duplexing ADF scans, copies, and faxes two-sided multipage documents without intervention. As is the case with its siblings, the WF-4730 is a highly capable solution for moderate-volume printing and copying in a small workgroup or micro office, but it lacks the auto-duplexing ADF of the WF-4740 and the lower price of the WF-4720.Read entire review at PCMag


 

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  • Review of the Xerox Duplex Travel Scanner at PCMagPROS

    Exceptional OCR accuracy. Scans two-sided pages in one pass. Robust, easy-to-use software. No power cable required.

  • CONS

    A little slow. Slightly expensive. Requires a PC to operate.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Xerox Duplex Travel Scanner may be a bit sluggish, but it scans two-sided pages in a single pass, and it’s highly accurate, making it a terrific choice for low-volume scanning on the road.

The Xerox Duplex Travel Scanner ($119.99) is similar to the Editors’ Choice Visioneer RoadWarrior X3 in features and functionality, except that the former can scan two-sided documents without you having to turn them over manually. Otherwise, both portable document scanners work without power cables, and they’re both exceptionally easy to use. There are some other much more sophisticated portable document scanners out there, such as the $300 Epson WorkForce ES-300W Portable Wireless Duplex Document Scanner, but if all you need is to scan relatively short documents to your laptop on the road, the Duplex Travel Scanner is a terrific alternative to the RoadWarrior X3—especially if those documents are two-sided.

Read the entire review at PCMag


 

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  • REview of Xerox's VersaLink C405/DN at PC MagPROS

    Excellent print quality. Reasonably fast. High-yield toner cartridges available. Strong set of security features. Single-pass auto-duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF). Lots of mobile connectivity features including NFC.

  • CONS

    Somewhat expensive. High running costs. Big and heavy. Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct are extra.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    A behemoth of a color laser all-in-one, the Xerox VersaLink C405/DN prints well, is respectably fast, and comes with a ton of features, but lower running costs would make it a better value.

Comparable in price with the Editors’ Choice Dell Color Smart Multifunction Printer S3845cdn, the Xerox VersaLink C405/DN ($979) all-in-one(AIO) prints well and reasonably fast. It comes with a wealth of features, including a single-pass, auto-duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) for unassisted, two-sided scanning, as well as paper input expandability, high-yield toner cartridges, and near-field communication (NFC) for printing from smartphones and tablets. With print, scan, copy, and fax functionality, the C405/DN is a capable AIO printer overall, but it’s a little slower than the Dell S3845cdn, and its running costs are higher (especially for color prints). Even so, it’s a good fit for low-to-moderate-volume printing and copying in small- to medium-size offices and workgroups.

Read the entire article at PCMag


 

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Review of the Seagate Personal Cloud (3TB) at Computer ShopperIf you’ve been in the information technology (IT) business as long as we have, we’re sure that you marvel at the evolution of its terminology the same way we do. Take, for example, the term “cloud,” which emerged in the 1990s as an abstraction for the complicated inner workings of the telephone company, and later to represent the massive infrastructure of the Internet. The term was used by IT people to symbolize the too-complicated-to-explain conglomeration of servers, routers, switches, and data lines. The cloud was a mysterious entity out there where intricate and wondrous things took place.

So how, then, did we get from that vast abstraction to everyday network attached storage (NAS) appliances being called “clouds,” like the $169.99-MSRP Seagate Personal Cloud 3TB we’re reviewing here today? Or, more simply: How did a humble data-storage device, sitting beside you on your desk, get associated with a term of such immense reach?

In short: The term keeps morphing and evolving. After all, Seagate is not the only drive manufacturer to use this “cloud” conceit in naming its personal storage devices. Western Digital (WD) offers multiple versions of its My Cloud NAS product, networking veteran ZyXel offers a Personal Cloud line of NAS drives, and Seagate sub-brand LaCie makes the CloudBox. The term “cloud” evolved from referring to the Internet’s massive wide area network (WAN) to refer more specifically to the storage repositories on the Internet—such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s OneDrive—where many of us save or back up our data these days. Before long, concerns arose about entrusting your only copy of key data to these offsite services. And so, with some brilliant marketing judo, storage-device makers adopted the term for storage appliances that let you keep a copy of your data in-house while making it accessible to the wider Net. And just like that, the enormous, intricate, and highly complex has been reduced to a data-storage gadget residing in our homes and offices.

Which brings us back to the Seagate Personal Cloud. What we have here is a one-hard-drive version of the Personal Cloud 2-Bay we reviewed back in 2015. In addition to this 3-terabyte version we received for review, Seagate offers 4TB ($219.99 MSRP) and 5TB ($239.99 MSRP) alternates.

The primary advantage of the Personal Cloud and NAS drives like it, compared to online cloud sites, is that with your own NAS drive, you pay a one-time charge for your data storage—the cost of the drive—and can add as many users as you want. In contrast, Dropbox charges $12.50 per month to rent 2TB of online storage, and if you need an account that supports multiple users, that goes up to $20 per user. It doesn’t take long, then, to burn up the cost of a small NAS like this in cloud-storage fees.

Seagate Personal Cloud (3TB) (Left Angled)

The primary disadvantage of the Personal Cloud and its competitors is that if anything happens to the NAS device—fire, theft, and the like—you’ll lose your data. Another disadvantage, of this Personal Cloud drive in particular, is that it contains just one hard drive mechanism, as opposed to higher-end NAS appliances that house at least two (and some of them, four or more). Multi-drive NAS devices let you configure their internal drives in redundant arrays designed to protect your data should any of the drives in the array fail. A shortcoming, then, of the Personal Cloud and others that contain just one drive is that if the drive inside fails, so goes your data, unless you have backed it up somewhere else (such as, say, a cloud site) or what’s on it is just a second copy.

That said, the Seagate Personal Cloud is easy to set up and use, and it comes with handy apps and services for backing up the PCs on your network and other routine tasks. Also included are a few feature-rich and adroit media-streaming servers. In testing, it was speedy enough, and it has a USB 3.0 port for adding supplemental external USB storage to the Personal Cloud, or for backing up USB external drives and thumb drives. And given that the street price is under $150 at this writing, the value proposition for a 3TB drive paired with all these extras is hard to beat.

For what it is, we like the Personal Cloud as a personal backup and media-streaming device, as long as you don’t rely on it alone for storing your only copies of critical data. For that kind of storage, this drive needs a backup plan itself.

See the entire review at Computer Shopper


 

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Lenovo Tab 2 A8-50 Review and RatingsLooking back over our Android-tablet reviews for 2015, we realized that we haven’t reviewed a new 7-inch tablet all year. (Indeed, the number of new Android tablets on the whole seems to be way down.) The low end is taking on a new shape, too: As we thought in 2014, 8 inches has become the new standard for compact Androids. You might say 8-inchers are the new 7-inchers, in terms of both popularity and price.

Case in point is last year’s $179.99-MSRP Lenovo Tab A8, which we reviewed in July of 2014. At that time, the Tab A8 was one of many entry-level compact Android tablets available, with most of the 8-inch models selling for just under $200 and most of the 7-inchers going for a bit over $100 ($129.99, or thereabouts). Here we are, just a year later, and Lenovo’s sequel to the Tab A8, the Tab 2 A8, raises the quality level for the price over last year’s model (even though both slates use the same processor). And it also lists for $20 less: a $159.95 MSRP. (Plus, as we wrote this in August 2015, it was selling at shop.lenovo.com and several other places for $40 less than that, or $119.99.)

Lenovo Tab 2 A8

Plenty of things about this slate place it firmly in the “entry-level” column, such as its relatively low-resolution, 1,280×800-pixel display, a mediocre 16GB of storage, and a relatively slow 1.3GHz MediaTek processor. Even so, its better-than-adequate display panel and Dolby-enhanced sound make it a good device for watching videos and for other kinds of not-so-resource-intensive media consumption.

Its shoulder-shrug-at-best performance on our benchmark tests suggests that this little slate might be somewhat sluggish, compared to other competing 8-inchers. The numbers suggest that perhaps you might notice it even when performing some everyday tasks—such as composing and responding to e-mails, Web browsing, and social-media interaction. But that was not the impression we got from our hands-on trials. As long as we didn’t try to push the Tab 2 A8 too hard, as we’ll get into in our Performance section later on, the Tab 2 A8 performed just fine.

That said, it’s also important to point out that the Tab 2 A8 simply could not complete a few parts of our cadre of tests. This, in turn, relegates this slate to a not-small group of entry-level- and midrange-performing tablets capable of most of the basics, but not up to the stresses of the most demanding Android games and apps.

In short: It’s dressed in fine accoutrements for media consumption—a good screen and speakers—but at the core this is a basic tablet. It’s ideal, we think, for first-time tablet buyers, for children (to keep their hands off Mom’s and Dad’s much pricier iPads), and anybody else looking for an inexpensive-yet-capable compact Android to help them keep in touch friends, family, and the world.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper

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