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D-Link DCS-942L Cloud Wireless IP Camera, 640x480 Resolution, Night Vision, Video Storage with microSD slot, mydlink enabled
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: Review is for the A4 hardware version with latest 1.24 Firmware released 2/11/15.

When you spend under 100 bucks for an IP cam you usually get VGA resolution. A good lens, in-camera storage recording, 30 fps because of H.264, dedicated passive IR motion detection, video motion detection, sound detection, pan/tilt/zoom, wired/wireless, two-way audio, easy setup, night vision with IR cut filter, are all potential price-raising options. This one has all of them except for the pan/tilt thing and looks pretty nice like an i-something.

The goal of this camera (and D-Link’s entire product line which is geared toward the smart home) is “Zero-Configuration”. Plug their cameras into one of their routers, add some smart power plugs, motion sensors, network media players and it all should work and be controllable via a mydlink.com portal accessible from Win/Mac, iOS, or android. No worrying about port-forwarding, DDNS, firewalls. The idea is that being able to view your video remotely from outside your local network with no real setup effort is a better value proposition than the latest tech.

In practice, the setup was just that easy: Own a D-link “Cloud-enabled” router, hook the camera to the network, log into your mydlink account, click “Yes” to add the camera. There are two other documented methods I tried. A) Download “Setup Wizard” from the website (Mac or Win), follow instructions which require installing Java if you don’t have it installed. B) Do a manual configuration using the camera’s built in Web Configuration Utility. You may find the user manual from the internet helpful to find the default IP and you need the camera wired to your router. BTW the default IP if no DHCP is 192.168.0.20.

Free Android and iOS apps for viewing the cam are available. The ipad iOS for 4 camera display and mydlink+ for Android are not free. Default settings with free one-cam app on iOS on ipad gives me 10 FPS MJPEG 480P with audio stream. Android got me the same at 480P and 320x240 is 10 FPS H264. Hooking to the app prompted for a camera password change from default which was nice.

The multiple and comprehensive options include e-mailing/storing/FTP of snaps and video on triggers such as time, two types of motion detection, or sound detection; DDNS now can take a typed-in server in addition to the two drop-down choices; you can turn off the power LED indicator. The 2.4 GHz wireless worked fine for me. The night vision was good for at least 10 feet with only 4 LEDs. My Transcend 32GB MicroSD formatted and worked well with consistent 30 FPS video at max res and cyclic recording. Long power cable.

Cons: The trend is toward HD resolution (but those cams are significantly higher priced and HD doesn’t work well over a cellular connection). Ball and socket pivot tends to drift if you connect both the Ethernet and the power cable. “Cloud” designation can be misleading if you expect this camera to store video to cloud storage for later review. It does not – there is no record to cloud function. To record video for later review you have to buy a D-Link NVR or use the SD slot. Field of view is narrow for some security applications 45.3 x 34.5 degrees. Time schedule triggers don’t allow for more than one time segment per day. Firmware updates are not automatic and require first downloading the file from the website to your computer. It would be nice to have a real-time threshold indicator on the motion detector settings page. Remember that iOS does not support JAVA so you can’t just look at a local camera in the browser without the app. (Android video works fine from Chrome without using the app.)

Other Thoughts: Inside the case the camera is powered by a Grain Media GM8126 SoC which has an embedded H.264 encoder as well as MPEG-4/JPEG and also manages the Ethernet connection. It has 128MB SDRAM and 16 MB flash and a single Ralink RT5370 b/g/n radio.

The camera is priced about right. The resolution is fine for a baby monitor, seeing if your server lights are on in a dark room, checking to see if you closed your garage door when you are at the airport, or seeing if there is a car parked in your driveway. You won’t be able to read that car’s license plate though. The SD slot lets you store video without a dedicated NVR. You can access that video remotely and this might be a way to avoid an NVR if your camera site is secure.

It that is not the case, then buying this camera is not a security solution. IP camera security solutions often involve a lot of work figuring out secure installation, back-up power, calculating required camera bandwidth on the network, and deciding how to store video for later playback. D-Link makes several NVR’s that support between four to nine cameras. If you go that route then the SD slot is superfluous. It may help you to know this camera worked with Blue Iris Video Security software.

One other situation with this camera is that in order to get the easy set-up without port-forwarding and firewall permissions, mydlink compatible devices must continuously broadcast to mydlink from inside your network. I do not know of a way to turn this off in-camera so if you don’t like it you have to specifically block it at your firewall/router. After the camera initiates an outbound connection through your firewall, the mydlink servers then decide which account your camera serial is registered to and brokers your (hopefully) reply back to it from outside your network to make the connection. You just have to trust in D-Link’s security and good intentions just like you trust that Google keeps your gmail and drive data secure.

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Corsair  MM600  CH-9000084-WW  Double-Sided Gaming Mouse Mat
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

5 out of 5 eggs Worth the price if you are a gamer. 02/01/2015

This review is from: Corsair MM600 CH-9000084-WW Double-Sided Gaming Mouse Mat

Pros: Do you really need a mousepad that costs half a C note?

If you do serious gaming, care about which laser mouse you use to get the best and most responsive performance, upgrade your computer and graphics cards to be able to play a particular game, know what FPS means - the answer is YES. If you have a mouse with a ball in it, play Solitaire as your computer game, and are still using a Pentium 3 then you shouldn’t be reading this review or buying this pad.

Yes, the newest laser mice can pretty much track on any surface including glass or your pant’s leg but the two deals are: Responsiveness and Precision.

Responsiveness is what gives you good target tracking and fast reversals. It depends on: how much muscle force you can exert and still have fine motor control, the mass of your mouse, the friction between the mouse and the surface. It assumes you have a perfectly level surface. One side of this perfectly rigid and perfectly flat pad is very smooth (without being overly reflective) to maximize responsiveness.

Precision is maximized by a bit more friction and a surface that utilizes the full mouse DPI potential. You can get some precision effect by increasing mouse mass but that will decrease responsiveness. Getting a consistent but increased friction level is a bit more difficult if you remember what old cloth mousepads were like. The flip side of this pad is a high-tech surface that feels almost but not quite like very fine sandpaper but it doesn’t hurt your mouse sliders. In fact, it should make them last longer than whatever you are using now.

The size is large. You might have to clean up your desk for action. It’s bigger than a magazine. It’s also a lot more effective than a Scientific American if you’re taking your gaming laptop out and about. It’s also thin. Less than a quarter of an inch. Packs in my laptop bag just fine.

Cons: None that I have experienced. Durability potential seems excellent.

Other Thoughts: In this case, you get what you pay for. Cost- Benefit ration from the perspective of serious gaming performance is excellent. The logo on the bottom is low-key and classy looking. Does not look cheap.

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TP-LINK Archer C5 AC1200 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router, 2.4GHz 300Mbps+5Ghz 867Mbps, 2 USB Ports, IPv6, Guest Network
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: This is one of the most cost-efficient routers to be able to provide the 802.11ac protocol. If you don’t know what that is see the Protocol Review section at the bottom.

WHERE IT FITS IN
The TP-Link Wireless router line-up that supports the ac protocol is called the Archer series and consists of the C2, C5, C7, C8, and C9 models. The first models were the C2 and the C7 which supported one stream and three streams of AC respectively. The C7 was the first QCA (Qualcom/Atheros) based AC 1750 router. The newer archer models are the C5 and the C8 & C9. The C5 looks almost identical to the C7 and appears to have the same hardware but is a two stream ac/ two stream n router. The C8 and C9 are three stream ac routers but are based on the second generation Broadcom chipset.

HARDWARE
The C5 advertises providing two streams on 5GHz and two simultaneous streams on 2.4GHz. If you are using ac on 5 GHz that gives you 867 Mbps and two streams of n on 2.5 GHz is 300 Mbps for roughly 1200 Mbps of potential wireless bandwidth. There are 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB 2.0 sockets. The CPU is a Qualcom/Atheros QCA9558@720MHz, 128 Mb RAM, 16MB of Flash, and SOC+Atheros QCA9880v2 Wireless NIC. There are three wired-up removable/upgradable single band external antennas for 5 GHz and three wired-up internal antennas for 2.4 GHz. No heatsinks appear to be required. There is a hard switch to turn off wireless. It is wall-mountable.

FIRMWARE
TP-Link firmware has most of the features you would want including samba, print server, media server, and FTP for the usb slots. User accounts can be set for samba and FTP. There is a Guest network where you can set upload and download bandwidth for the guest network. Schedules, restrictions, IPv6, and bi-directional bandwidth controls for ip/port/protocol are featured. In addition, some open source firmware is also supposed to be compatible but I haven’t fully tested it, not wanting to risk bricking the router during testing. DD-WRT and OpenWrt versions for this model exist and are supposed to be stable – which is a major geek bonus. There is an iOS app called Tether for administrating this router.

TESTING
The wired WAN<->LAN throughput achieves nearly wire speed (Gigabit). Power consumption is between 3.5 and 4 W. On Wireless I get about 75 Mbit/s each way on 2.4 GHz and about 165 Mbps on 5 GHz at about 25 feet. This is pretty good in real life. Running three separate client devices simultaneously on 5 GHz I got about 275 Mbps total. USB file read/write FAT32 was around 15MB/s and NTFS was around 10.5. I had no drops in 3 days of testing. It compared very favorably to my three stream AC routers that cost 2-3x the price.

Cons: Some software features that simplify setup are missing but not really that big of a deal. These include one-button configuration as a wireless access point, and intelligent QoS.

I am a little puzzled by the Archer C5’s current US price point relative to the C7 – they're about the same ---see other thoughts.

There is inconsistent documentation regarding the 5 GHz antennas. The C5 is supposed to have two 5 GHz radios/streams. It has three wired-up detachable 5GHz antennas. It looks like three wires run from the circuit board to the three antennas. It has an excellent three stream chip (QCA9880-BR4) but it is advertised as only a 1200 AC router with two ac streams. Appendix C of the user manual p135 says there are Two 5 GHz 5dBi detachable antennas and three 2.4 GHz internal antennas. I suspect that there are also three 2.4 GHz n streams instead of the advertised two for a 450 throughput instead of 300Mbps.

I am curious why in some circumstances I got better performance with this C5 than the higher spec C7. I think that this router gives you a lot more performance than it advertises (by one antenna per band). It certainly has the hardware for it.

Other Thoughts: TP-Link is the wireless-router market share leader in China. I have used a LOT of TP-Link products. They have been reliable and cost-efficient for me.

I was a little puzzled by the Archer C5 AC1200 coming out after the Archer C7 AC1750. The C7 has been out for some time and was the first QCA (Qualcom/Atheros) based AC router sporting three streams (radios) on each band while the C5 supposedly only has two. In other countries the C7 is more expensive than the C5. Looking at the US pricing it appears that the C5 is just a bit more expensive. Both models look almost identical, with 3 external and 3 internal antennas, Qualcomm/Atheros QCA9558@720MHz, 128 Mb RAM, 16 MB of Flash, and a SOC+Atheros QCA9880v2 Wireless NIC. When I compared some speed tests on my C5 vs. my C7 the C5 was often faster on 5 GHz.

My best guess is that, initially, when the QCA chipset based C7 AC 1750 first came out, there were sporadic reports of dropped connectivity with Broadcom chipset based clients (like apple phones). There was a firmware upgrade and a hardware change to a v2 QCA9880 chip (from the QCA9880-AR1A chip) and those reports seemed to stop but the name “C7” didn’t get changed. As best I can tell, that may be one reason why there is currently a price differential with the higher spec device selling for a lower price. The second reason is that their new Broadcom chip based C8 AC1750 model is available - which has similar specs to the C7 (at well over twice the price).

PROTOCOL REVIEW
In case you are not up to date on wireless technology and don’t have an 802.11ac router the next best thing is 802.11n protocol. 802.11n protocol can be run on either the 2.4GHz or the 5 GHz radio band. N gets you up to about 150 megabits per “spatial stream” which can be thought of as a 20 MHz radio channel. The big deal with n is that you can “bond” several “spatial streams” together for increased throughput. Two streams on this router get you 300 Mbit/sec. Some routers can “bond” up to three streams for 450Mbs on a band. Each stream usually gets its own antenna. This assumes the router is set to n-only mode (“mixed mode” supports legacy devices like B or G protocol.) If you set “mixed mode” and you have non-N devices on the network, the whole band throughput will slow down dramatically.

Realistic TCP throughput on pure three stream 2.4 GHz N will max out around 150Mbs under ideal conditions due to TCP protocol overhead when Windows is showing a 450 Mbs connection.

Most people set the 2.4GHz to the most-compatible mixed mode setting and then use the ac-only mode for big files/streaming. Most phones/tablets only do one stream because of limited battery life.

The ac protocol can only happen on the 5 GHz band and provides about 433 Mbit/sec per spatial stream. Newer laptops and some handsets like the iPhone 6, HTC M8, and Galaxy S4/S5 support the ac protocol (it’s less battery power per byte). 5 GHz is less crowded but usually drops off faster than 2.4 GHZ with di

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Gregory P.'s Profile

Display Name: Gregory P.

Date Joined: 11/07/09

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  • First Review: 12/18/09
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