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This review is from: WD Blue WD10J31X 1TB 5400 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 2.5" Laptop SSHD Bare Drive
Pros: Good amount of space in a small package. Pretty good performance for a hard drive. I put this drive in my laptop and it doesn't really feel any faster than the standard drive that was in it. Boot up was maybe a little faster, and my common used programs might open a little faster. But the difference isn't huge, I saw a much better improvement with an SSD.
But still this is a great drive if you only have one spot in your computer.
Cons: No real cons to speak of, the drive performed well. I guess the only issue is it is 9mm, so it wouldn't fit in my ultrabook.
Other Thoughts: I don't think 8GB is big enough to really make a difference. I'd like to see at least 32GB.READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: TP-LINK TL-WA850RE 300Mbps Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender. Wi-Fi Booster
Pros: The first thing I'm going to say is THANK YOU TP-LINK for including an ethernet cable! You don't know how many inexpensive networking products I open that don't come with a network cable. They are pennies to include, and it frustrates me when they aren't included and I need one.
Ok, now for the product itself. It works, I was able to plug it into an outlet in my garage, configure it with my laptop and then walk out into my driveway and get a single and browse the internet. My driveway previous had either an extremely weak or non-existent signal before, depending on conditions. Now, my driveway is covered with a nice reliable signal. This sounds like kind of an odd scenario, but it is actually a solution I use. The driveways in my neighborhood turn into hangouts on the weekends. Everyone drags their grills and chairs out and we all just kind of move from driveway to driveway around the neighborhood chatting and having fun.
Setup was super easy though the LAN port, and I also was able to configure it through wireless when I had to change some settings.
Lets get down to some numbers on throughput. When standing in my driveway, when I was able to connect to my access point in the house, my speed was only 3Mbps download, and it was extremely spotty. At one point I though the speed test had frozen, but it was just sitting there waiting. With the repeater in my garage, standing in the same spot in my driveway I get 23Mbps. That is a very big and noticeable improvement. When I'm in my house though, connected directly to my access point I get 47Mbps. So the speed through the repeater is about half of the full speed, but it is still way better than nothing.
Finally, the LAN port on this is such a nice addition. I have a media center PC in my garage that I use to play movies and such. It was previous connected with a USB Wireless G adapter. I was able to plug the PC into this extender and use the extender as a wireless adapter. It worked wonderfully. And I actually got 64Mbps download speed doing this while the previous Wireless G adapter was only getting 13Mbps. I can now actually watch HD content!
Cons: No external antennas. it seems like it performs Ok without them, but I'd like to see them and I think it would perform a little better with them.
The one thing during setup that I wish was different was I wish it prompted me to change the login password. At the end of the configuration it gives you a setup summary, and it lists the username and password, but never has you change them from the defaults. I had to go back into the configuration and change them after the initial setup wizard was complete.
The biggest con is that this doesn't support the 5GHz band, it is only 2.4GHz. I know adding dual band support costs more, but I really think extenders can benefit from simultaneous dual-band support. The main benefit being that you can connect to you main access point on the 5GHz band, then use the 2.4GHz band as the extension. This would eliminate the half duplex issue that causes the speed to be effectively halved. However, on a sub-$30 device, I can't really expect dual-band support like this.
I took one egg off of my TL-WA854RE review because that adapter didn't have a LAN port. This one does, so it gets full 5 eggs. This adapter, IMO, makes the TL-WA854RE a redundant product. Even if it is a few bucks cheaper, I wouldn't buy a WA854RE, I'd buy the WA850RE with the LAN port.
Other Thoughts: For the inexpensive repeater that this is, it does its job. If you need to extend WiFi to an area that doesn't have it, this will do that. If you just need a reliable connection, and not necessarily the fastest, this will do just fine. I would even say it would work with 2-3 phones/tablets/computers streaming data at the same time. I wouldn't go much more than that though. However, it will support more than that if just browsing and checking email is the goal.READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: This is a really neat product. And for what it does, it is pretty cheap too. Most home automation products like this are over $100 just to start out, this kit gets you started for under $50. And most of the add on devices, like plugs and light switches, are priced pretty reasonably as well.
You can group devices together using the app. So you can control an entire room with just one button press. You can turn the whole room off, or on with one press, and control the dimming off all the lights with one dimmer.
You can set up rules, which are basically just timers. You can choose to turn devices on at a certain time, or at sunrise/sunset. You can also choose to turn the same devices off at a certain time or at sunrise/sunset. So, for example, I set my living room lights to automatically turn on at sunset, and automatically turn off at 10:30PM.
The sleep timer function is very nice. You can set sevices to slowly dim and eventually turn off over a period of time. You can pick 1 minutes, 10 minutes, or 30 minutes as well a setting a custom time.
The LED bulbs use next to no electricity and are very bright at full power. They say they are 60w replacements, but they light up the room like a 75w bulb.
Cons: My biggest gripe with this is setting it up. It seems like it should be easy, but it was actually rather troublesome. It all went smoothly until I ran the App for the first time. I'm using the Android App by the way. When It came up I expected it to walk me through finishing the setup, but it didn't. Instead it told me I need to change some settings in my phone first. One setting was already set the way it wanted, but I changed the other one. I re-launched the app it still complained about needing to change the one setting that was already set the way it needed to be. Whenever I launched the app it would tell me to disable the WiFi option to "Avoid bad WiFi Connections". But that option was already turned off on my phone. So I enabled the option and turned it off. Finally the app stopped asking me to disable the setting. However, the app would still not continue to the setup process. It would just take me to the screen that says "What device are you setting up" and when I picked the WeMo Lightbulbs, it just gave me instructions for plugging everything in and actually says at the end of those instructions "then run the WeMo" app...but I was already in the WeMo app. I'd close the app and re-open it, and it would just take me back to the "What device are you setting up" screen. After a bunch of fiddling, disconnecting from the Belkin Wifi network, connecting to my Wifi network, relaunching the app, over and over again about 5-6 times, the app finally triggered the device setup. Once it was triggered, the process was easy and setup was complete in a couple of minutes. But the overall process took me about half an hour because the app would not begin the setup process. I was about to give up and just box everything back up, but it finally worked.
Once everything was set up, there were are few other issues with the App. First is that it comes up with a dialog about grouping devices together with a "click here to learn how". When I click it took me to a Belkin page with no instruction on how to group devices. So I was on my own to figure out how to group devices...
Another issue with the app is that once you group devices together you can no longer control them individually. So if I want to turn on just one light in a room, or turn just one off because it causes a glare on my TV, I can't. Very annoying.
My final issue isn't with the app, but with the pricing of extra bulbs. The cheapest price I could find is $25 a bulb. The kit is $50 and comes with 2 bulbs and a control hub. The extra bulbs should be cheaper than the bulbs with a control hub. I'd expect the bulbs to be $20 a piece at most.
Other Thoughts: I'd really like to see higher wattage bulbs. A 100w replacement would be great. Something that puts out double the lumens that these do. I like bright light, and some areas of my home, such as my garage, are large areas but only have a couple light fixtures. So I need super bright bulbs. A 1600 lumens bulb would be great.
The app is a little slow at times, and there is no feedback when you press most things, such as the "Save/Cancel" buttons at the bottom of the screen when editing devices and rules. So when I click save the app just sits there for a second or two, and I wonder if it acknowledge that I clicked save. The slowness is fine, I understand that it has to communicate with the devices and that takes time, but highlighting the button so I know the app accepted my button press would be great.
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