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Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player (H2G2-42)
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

4 out of 5 eggs Very Good Streaming Media Player for a Low Price! 12/11/2014

This review is from: Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player (H2G2-42)

Pros: - Small, lightweight Wireless b/g/n DLNA device
- Very good Audio/Video (A/V) quality including surround sound on Home Theater
- Easy to setup on Home network
- Works well with apps (Netflix, Hulu, Localcast, YouTube, etc.) on Android phones & tablets, & Windows 8 PC's (haven't tested it with iPhone IOS or Mac OS X).
- Can turn any basic HDTV into a Smart TV by streaming A/V from apps on your device.

Cons: If your home network is not configured properly then your Device apps might keep losing connection to the Chromecast every 10 min. or so. See the resolution to this that should work for most home networks in the comments below.

Other Thoughts: This was easy to setup with the Chromecast app installed on my Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro. However, like many other users I experienced the problem where the apps on my phone and tablet would lose the connection to the Chromecast after about 10 min. It would continue to play the video on my TV, but I could no longer control it from the app. On your Internet provider's Wireless router (and any other wireless router you may have), login in to the Router Configuration IP in your browser (mine is http://192.168.1.1 but could be different depending on brand. Verify this by opening a Command Prompt and entering ipconfig. Look for the Default Gateway IP. Make sure you know the Password for the Admin account.) and do the following:

1. Verify the AP Isolation mode is Disabled. This can be found under the Wireless Advanced or Professional settings (the location depends on the make & model of your router/s). Normally this is Disabled by default on home routers, but you should check this setting. If it is Enabled it prevents Wireless clients from talking to each other on the same network.

2. Verify the IGMP Proxy is Disabled. Chromecast uses DLNA and DLNA/UPNP uses Multicast packets to communicate on the network. IGMP Proxy is supposed to filter out Multicast packets from going to every client on the network except for the clients that specifically requested them. However, my Verizon FIOS Actiontec MI424WR (Rev. I) Wireless-N router has this Enabled by default. There is a bug in their IGMP Proxy and it filters all Multicast packets even for clients that requested them. On the FIOS router this option used to be in Router Config Advanced options, but Verizon pushed a firmware update that hid the IGMP Proxy and UPNP settings because they don't want customers changing them. IMHO – IGMP Proxy is not that important on a small home network. This can be accessed after logging into the Router Config with the Admin account and changing the active_page parameter in the URL to 6059 (e.g. http://192.168.1.1/index.cgi?active_page=6059).

3. Now you are ready to follow the instructions for setting up Chromecast. Initially the Chromecast setup app wants the device (phone, tablet, or PC) its on to be on the same 2.4Ghz Wireless network as the Chromecast. Follow the setup instructions on your TV and it may ask you to update the firmware. Follow all setup steps carefully.

If you have multiple Wireless networks, it just easier to leave your Device on the same network as the Chromecast. Overall I am very happy with this device and would definitely recommend it to others looking for a cheaper alternative (under $40) to Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, or any other Internet streaming media player. This does everything I want with my Phone & Tablet. Hopefully you find the information above helpful if you ran into the same problem where your device keeps losing its connection to Chromecast.

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EVGA 02G-P4-3753-KR G-SYNC Support GeForce GTX 750 Ti Superclocked 2GB 128-Bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 Video Card
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

Pros: - Space saving design (freed up a lot of space in my ATX Mid-Tower case compared to the old card that was twice as long)
- Powerful, energy efficient GPU using only 60 Watts directly from the PCI-E Bus (no need for extra power cables)
- Stays cool and fan runs quiet
- 2GB of GDDR5 RAM
- Supports Max Digital resolution 4K x 2K for UHD TV's/Monitors
- This model is overclocked from factory
- Excellent Bang for the Buck

Cons: 1. This was causing Explorer to crash when right-clicking on any Drive/Resource in the left pane to display the context menu. Explorer would close and the Desktop would be re-displayed. Event Viewer showed the faulting module in Explorer was SHELL32.dll, but did not give any other useful information. Using the ShellExView 64-bit utility I could see that NVIDIA installed 2 64-bit Shell Extensions called DesktopContext Class and NVIDIA CPL Context Menu Extension. In this utility I disabled the NVIDIA CPL Context Menu Extension and this fixed the problem with Explorer crashing when right-clicking on resources in the left pane. As far as I can tell, the only thing this extension does is give a shortcut to the NVIDIA Control Panel when right-clicking on the Desktop. I don't need that since there are other ways to launch the Control Panel. I contacted EVGA about this problem on Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit, and they sent the information to NVIDIA. Hopefully they will fix it in the next release.

2. The NVIDIA GeForce Experience icon in the System Tray stops working after I turn off the monitor or let it go into power saving mode. When I bring the display back, then I can't use the icon to access the options. Not a big deal since there are other ways to launch the GeForce Experience and Control Panel utilities.

Other Thoughts: I bought this to replace an older AMD Radeon HD 5830 PCI-E 2.0 card that was going bad in my Home Media Server (HMS) that consists of the following:

OS: Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
Motherboard: ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 Socket AM3+
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Quad-Core 3.4Ghz
RAM: Patriot Viper Extreme 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 PC2000 SDRAM
PSU: Antec True Power 650W Continuous ATX 12V 80 Plus Bronze Rating
OS Drive: Adata XPG SX910 256GB SSD Sata 6Gbs
Storage Spaces Parity Array: 3 x WD Red NAS HD 2TB Sata 6Gbs

This is the only PCI-E device in my PC. This video card still takes up 2 bays, but is only about half the length of my old card. This freed up space and improves air flow in my ATX Mid-Tower case. I have the DisplayPort connected by DisplayPort/HDMI cable to a 19” LED monitor's HDMI port. I connected the HDMI Port to my Home Theater Receiver by HDMI cable to display on my 65” LED TV.

I'm using all the default settings in the NVIDIA Control Panel, but had to adjust the Scaling a little when displaying on my TV. The picture quality on the Monitor and TV is excellent. Configuring Surround Sound on the HDMI cable to my Yamaha HTR was easy and sounds great.

With my older AMD Radeon card Extending the Displays never worked properly, but I decided to play around with extending them with this new card and everything worked fine. My main Desktop was on my small monitor and it extended to the TV with the correct settings. Dragging iTunes, Video Player, or any other app to the TV and going full screen was very easy. Even the Video Win8 container app worked fine.

In order to get a real test of video quality and performance, I downloaded the Final Fantasy 14 A Realm Reborn Official Benchmark utility. This does not allow you to play the game, but plays some very graphics intense clips from the game. At the end it gives a Benchmark Score to show how well the video card performed. I'm displaying this utility on my 65” LED TV. In the utility I set the Graphics Settings & Display Settings to the max for 1080P. Running this utility 3 times gave Very High Benchmark Scores from 6642 to 6696. I used the EVGA PrecisionX 16 utility to monitor the Video Card while the Benchmark was running. The GPU temp never got above 50C/122F, the GPU Clock never went above 1305Mhz, & the Fan Speed never went above 50%. The video quality on my TV was super crisp, clear, & smooth without lag. I'm just wondering how much better this would have performed if my motherboard had a PCI-E 3.0 port instead of its older PCI-E 2.0 port.

I've only had this card for 2 weeks, but overall I'm very impressed with quality, performance, & price. This was an excellent buy for a low price and will future proof my video needs for the next few years. I would definitely recommend this card to anyone who wants a powerful, energy efficient video card. I will update this review if I run into any future issue, but for now everything is working fine.

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ASUS RT-AC68U Wireless-AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit Router IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

4 out of 5 eggs Very Good Router With a lot of Potential 06/23/2014

This review is from: ASUS RT-AC68U Wireless-AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit Router IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n

Pros: - Efficient upright design saves space on desk and the vents on top allow heat to dissipate. Some people felt this design was awkward looking and wanted this to have a wall mount kit. For my purposes I disagree and it has a simple design where form follows function.
- WAN/LAN ports along bottom back of unit for easy connection and organization.
- Strong WiFi signal throughout house on both 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz with fast link speeds.
- Easy to configure UI.
- Can turn off LED Lights.

Cons: - Configuration UI is unstable on HTTP connection and keeps locking up or becomes unresponsive. However, This is stable under HTTPS and can be configured in Administration → System → Authentication Method: BOTH. I contacted ASUS Tech Support for North America about this issue with HTTP on Win 8.1 Pro 64-bit on both the current versions of IE & Chrome. Their Tech support person did not seem to understand simple direct English and told me to do the exact same thing I told him I had already done (very frustrating).

- I installed the latest Firmware 3.0.0.4_347_5656, but there are still bugs with 2.4Ghz connections. After 2 days all of my 2.4Ghz Wireless-N connections had No Internet access even though they still had good link speeds to the router. Rebooting the router did not solve the problem. After much research I decided to install Merlin's (AsusWRT-Merlin) latest firmware 3.0.0.4_347.42_2 and the router has worked great for the last 3 weeks without needing to reboot. This issue was also in my Asus Tech Support ticket, but again they were less than helpful. They wanted the logs from when this happened, but as I explained the firmware had already been changed to Merlin. I would have to put their firmware back in place to get the logs when this occurs (Still frustrating).

Other Thoughts: Overall I am very happy with this router using the AsusWRT-Merlin firmware. I have this configured in Access Point (AP) Mode because I want my main Verizon FIOS router to handle all DHCP & NAT so that everything is on the same subnet (On the FIOS router change the ASUS router's IP from Dynamic to Static so it always gets the same IP). My Wireless-N 5Ghz clients are connecting at 300Mbps. Some of my Wireless-N 2.4Ghz clients can connect at 300Mbps and the rest connect at 150Mbps. I have one Wireless-AC client (Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4) and it gets a steady 500Mbps throughout my house. It all depends on what the client's wireless chipset supports.

I live in a Townhouse complex and all of my neighbors have wireless routers so there is a lot of interference on the 2.4Ghz band. On the Google Play Store I found a free app called WiFi Analyzer and installed it on my Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro. This showed me all the wireless routers near my house and what channels they were using on both the 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz bands. You can then select your SSID and it will recommend the channel with the best performance. There was no competition on the 5Ghz band with my neighbors so I'm probably the only one using this for N & AC. This made a big difference in my 2.4Ghz band when I switched the router config to the recommended channel. I highly recommend this app to help tweak your wireless network especially if you have a lot of neighbors close by on the 2.4Ghz band.

There are a couple other things I did to increase range and performance in my house. Go to Wireless → General tab and change the Channel Bandwidth to 40Mhz (this worked better for my clients than the default 20/40Mhz). Go to the Wireless → Professional tab and change the Tx Power Adjustment to the max 200mW for both the 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz bands (this was better than the default of 80mW).

I believe most of the issues with this router are with the Firmware and not necessarily the hardware. This has a lot of potential, but ASUS needs better quality control when developing and testing their Firmware builds. And is it too much to ask that their Tech Support people handling U.S. customers can understand simple, direct English in emails?

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Nicholas L.'s Profile

Display Name: Nicholas L.

Date Joined: 03/06/11

  • Reviews: 8
  • Helpfulness: 8
  • First Review: 03/22/11
  • Last Review: 12/11/14
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