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TP-LINK TL-WA854RE 300Mbps Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender, Repeater, Wall Plug design, One-button Setup, Smart Signal Indicator
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: Good, and cost-efficient wifi repeater.

Wi-Fi is supposed to be so easy and reliable. It’s not. Getting reliable connections at decent speeds throughout a multi-room living space in population-dense areas can be difficult especially with other devices competing on the 2.4 GHz band.. Many homes and offices are not easy to wire-up; and everywhere you look, marketing departments promise near-wire speeds if you buy the latest wireless gizmos.

There are three ways of extending your wireless network into an area where you have marginal coverage. 1) Run an ethernet cable from your router to a new wireless access point (the best). 2) Hook a powerline adapter to a new wireless access point (less good). (TP-Link has a very cool combination powerline adapter/access point combination - see the TL-WPA4220Kit), 3) Run a wireless repeater (the worst). For the technical aspects, gotchas, and limitations, see other thoughts.

As wireless repeaters go, this one is inexpensive, easy to set up (WPS button), small, plugs directly into an outlet, comes from a good company, looks good, and works pretty good as long as you know the limitations and gotchas. As long as it is close-enough to your main wireless access point to get a good 2.4 GHz signal, it will repeat the 2.4 GHz signal for you. I got up to about 70 feet line-of-sight range extension. It has internal antennas, seems to run an Atheros CPU, and I got about 20/25 Mbps down/up speed. This compares favorably to other 2.4 GHz repeaters I’ve tried (Netgear, Linksys, Edmax).

This is the least expensive TP-Link extender. The next model up looks just like this one but has a wireless-bridge ethernet port that you can hook your gaming system to. Their top model is the RE200 which has AC compatible dual band function.

Cons: This device does not have any cons specific to it except that wireless repeaters are the last-choice way of extending a wireless network. It compares favorably with other 2.4GHz repeaters but has a shorter range than those with external antennas. Positioning is limited to power-outlet location.

Other Thoughts: There are some gotchas with all wireless repeaters. First, they slow down the bandwidth by at least 50% since they are repeating/re-broadcasting the signal. Second, the repeater has to be placed where it has a good connection to the parent wireless access point. Mapping of your wireless strength and channel availability in a potential placement location can be done with many cell-phone apps these days, though. This unit has a 5-level signal strength connection indicator to help place it correctly. Third, this unit operates on the more-common 2.4 GHz band which is more crowded than the newer AC protocol on 5 GHz.

Before you go with a repeater, first try moving your root access point or getting a more powerful access point or bigger antennas.

(In the past, I've used powerline adapters to hook up an access point I couldn't wire in. I thought it would be cool if someone made a combination powerline/access point unit and it turns out TPLink has just such an item at only twice the price of this repeater.)

If you need to cover a 20-30 foot dead spot for “consumer internet” type speeds this Range Extender might do it for you quite inexpensively. If you need to run many devices and do big file streaming within your local network, you’re gonna have to run wire.

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SAMSUNG 250GB USB 3.0 Portable SSD T1
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

5 out of 5 eggs First USB3 SSD with good cost/performance from a Tier One 03/21/2015

This review is from: SAMSUNG 250GB USB 3.0 Portable SSD T1

Pros: Truly a new product first presented at CES 2015. It is similar in performance to what you would get if you stuck an 850 EVO into an enclosure -- except that it is much smaller and lighter. This little beauty weighs about an ounce and has the footprint of a business card. This was accomplished by shrinking the internal SSD to a short mSATA form which is made easier by Samsung’s proprietary 3D vertical NAND technology. This technology stacks up to 32 cell layers on top of one another. The resultant package, including the USB-SATA bridge, is less than a cm thick. The T1 product line is available in sizes fro 250 GB up to 1 TB. I have a 250.

It can saturate a USB 3.0 connection.

Works with Mac/Win. Basic setup software is provided on drive. Included 5 inch SuperSpeed USB 3.0 A to USA micro B cable provides power/data and weighs about as much as the drive. There is a subdued blue activity light – solid when connected/flashing with access.

Supports hardware-accelerated AES 256-bit encryption done in a consumer-friendly way as well as a drive password.

Much smaller that a portable HD and, of course, is resistant to shock/G force/altitude. Also, cheaper and less bulky than buying an EVO 850 SATA and sticking it into an enclosure. Costs about $0.57 to $ 0.75 per GB depending on size (bigger is cheaper).

There is no other external USB3 product out there that can compete with this in terms of 450 MB/s speed while being tiny in size.

Cons: Some people will be put off by the “feel”.
When they spend a certain amount of money they expect the product to “feel” heavier and more substantial and equate “light” with “flimsy”. This thing is amazingly light and encased in mostly black plastic. Producing it with a heavy metal enclosure might improve the consumer “feel”. (I like it the way it is now and think it looks really nice.)

Limited a bit by the USB 3.0 interface.
In case you haven’t been keeping up, USB comes in a few flavors that are all supported by this drive: USB2.0, USB3.0, and USB3.0 +UASP. That last UASP mode involves something called “SuperSpeed” or “Usb Attached Scsi Protocol) which has a 5 Gbit/sec data rate translating to a bit over 4 Gbit/sec payload throughput. The thing to know is that you only get native +UASP with USB3.0 ports on a Windows 8 or OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion(2012) or later. If you have a stock Win 7 box with USB 3.0 (majority of machines out there) you will be limited to about 280 MB/sec. USB2.0 gets you about 49/45 MB/sec. USB also tends to prevent you from taking advantage of Samsung’s RAPID caching mode available on their internal drives (though TurboWrite is supported) which makes sequential writes a bit slower than an internal EVO. Ditto for automatic TRIM. SMART may also be limited based on what software you are using.

Easy drive setup requires software installation.
Drive comes with an exFAT initial partition that is used for a Win/Mac compatible set up upon first connection. For instance, on a Mac this installs an additional kernel extension. Some people might not like this, but once the drive has been setup by the user, you do not need proprietary software to access the drive unless you opt to switch on the password protection.

Three year warranty.
For some reason, this T1 drive and the new 850EVO M.2 are listed as three year warranty protection on Newegg while the SATA 850EVO’s have a 5 year warranty. Think this is a bean-counter thing sort of like what happened on the hard drive scene once or twice before. The NAND used in this drive typically far exceeds its rated use.

Other Thoughts: If you are a power user who needs to carry or transfer a lot of data around in a small package and have it move around fast, this is your best option out there. This assumes that you have relatively current hardware (USB3.0 +Superspeed) and software (Win 8 or post 2012 OS X). Video editing, photography, and big chunks of data will fit in the space of a couple of 128GB USB sticks and be a lot faster and more secure to work with.

Without attached power, SSD’s should retain data for at least a year.

Extremely hard use will make these devices warm. This one has internal thermal protection and should throttle down if it heats up too much.

Most uses for external drives involve sequential reads and writes so I tested those first with Crystal getting about 420 MBps read and 380 write for unencrypted. This roughly corresponded to my test copy of about 40 GB of video files. Read average was about 380MBps and Write was about 280MBps. These numbers are about 4-10x what a good thumb drive would be. The Crystal Random read/write speeds kick most thumb drive speeds by about 100x. Windows 7 got me about 60 – 65% of the UASP speeds.

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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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Gregory P.'s Profile

Display Name: Gregory P.

Date Joined: 11/07/09

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  • First Review: 12/18/09
  • Last Review: 05/10/15
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