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Pros: This is a pretty nice router. It came packed with some very surprising features.
Dual USB ports, which allow you to connect printers or external hard drives, are a very useful idea for routers. I’ve seen some flakey implementations of this in the past, which required special Windows-only software to access the USB devices. This router is perfectly happy to fire up an FTP server for your external drive!
The USB drives provides one of the best implementations I’ve ever seen. No clunky Windows-only software, just an FTP server spun up instantly from your choice of path on the external drive. You can even make it Internet accessible with just 1 checkbox.
Performance has been good so far, no obvious bottlenecks or latency problems, but I do not have the fastest Internet connection in the world.
The router has some basic and expected tools, like a ping tool and traceroute tool, but it came with some more surprising technical tools such as ICMP-Flood, UDP-Flood, and TCP-SYN-Flood attack mitigation. I’m not sure who at TP-Link anticipates a residential router getting DDoSed, but I’ve seen it happen before and I would love to see how this router holds up.
The router has more advanced traffic ACL’s and even bandwidth QoS than I’m accustomed to seeing in stock firmware. I will certainly play with the QoS some more. So far, I like their implementation which lets you set guaranteed speeds and maximum speeds for IP address ranges.
Out of the box, this router should be pretty easy for anyone with basic technical knowledge to set up.
The router has external antennas which look like they’re pretty high-gain (and they seem to offer comparable range to other routers I have used in the past). The 2.4GHz and 5GHz range are both within acceptable expectations.
Cons: I have some security concerns with the out of the box configuration, but they’re not really atypical mistakes.
UPnP is on by default (and UPnP is desirable for some P2P programs to work properly...) but I have my concerns about leaving that turned on, as it allows any software (including malicious software) to open itself up to the Internet without your permission or knowledge...
WPS is also on by default, and WPS has some known exploits which make it very hackable. If you’re concerned about security over convenience, you might want to consider turning off WPS.
The router comes with a short numeric-only password, which is not a great idea for security either. You should definitely consider putting your own password on the router. As long as you aren’t using something obvious like your street address or phone number, it’s probably more secure than the random numbers.
Other Thoughts: A few notes for you to save you some time when you open the box:
The default IP address is 192.168.0.1
The default administrative username is “admin”.
The default administrative password is also “admin”.
The WiFi password and SSID are printed on a sticker on the bottom.
Enjoy your new router!
This review is from: D-Link DCS-2132L 1280 x 800 MAX Resolution Surveillance Camera
Pros: This is a very nice product. I’ve had some horrible experiences in the past with wireless IP cameras, and I was apprehensive about trying this one.
I was pleasantly surprised by this camera. It has WiFi connectivity, as well as the ability to be connected to your network with a CAT5 cable. If you’re going to have tons of cameras streaming video, WiFi isn’t the best way to do it, and you’d want the ability to run CAT5 to your camera, so I’m glad to see that these have a network jack.
The video quality is very nice for the price, and the night vision rivals that of some commercial camera solutions I’ve seen deployed in office buildings.
I was impressed to see that this camera offers an mjpeg stream that I can actually play back in VLC media player. I bet with a little bit of tinkering, a proper IP DVR system could accept this camera as one of its own. I could also think of a few homebrew DVR solutions that might be possible using Linux boxes and headless VLC instances. Certainly plenty of fun to be had with the mjpeg stream!
The camera can actually store event video directly on an FTP server or Samba share, which is very interesting for homebrew IP camera solutions without purchasing a DVR. A cheap NAS or an old Windows PC with a folder shared would make a decent homebrew video recording solution for this camera out of the box, with very little tinkering.
The camera has the ability to record video directly to a MicroSD card, which actually means you might not need it connected to your network or transmitting over your network at all depending on what your needs are. File rotation on the MicroSD card looks like it is handled well, you can tell the camera how much space to consume on the card, and it’ll rotate out old clips for you.
Cons: Setting up motion events was difficult. First you have to add your “server” (which can be an FTP server, a Windows file share, or a MicroSD card in the camera... go figure as to why they’re calling a MicroSD card a ‘server’). Then you have to add your “Media”, which is basically a setting for how you want the video to be recorded. Then you have to add an “Event”, which is the actual trigger for your recording. When -Event- happens, record -Media- to -Server-. It’s actually not that confusing when you have played with it a little bit, but up front it’s really not a user friendly way to approach motion recording.
Motion recording won’t even work at all unless you go through the Motion Detection Setup Wizard, and I’m not really sure why they couldn’t have just handled all of this stuff in that wizard. That would really have simplified the procedure of creating a basic motion recording event, which is probably what a large subset of this camera’s users want to do anyway...
Night vision works extremely well indoors, but its range is very limited and it would not work well if you tried to point the camera out a window of your house. (Trust me, I have tried.) Don’t buy this camera if you want to watch your backyard at night with it. Do buy this camera if you want to watch your living room at night with it.
The lack of 5GHz wireless support makes me discount the wireless connectivity of this camera as a seriously interesting feature. 2.4GHz wireless networks are not as high performance, and are more subject to interference problems. I’d much rather see these cameras on 5GHz and not overwhelming my 2.4GHz spectrum with all of the extra wireless traffic. If you got a few of these streaming over the network at once, it would probably overwhelm your access point pretty quickly.
Other Thoughts: There are a lot of wireless cameras on the market which run on proprietary 2.4GHz transmitters and receivers, and which pollute the spectrum so badly that WiFi and other 2.4GHz devices can’t function properly. I’ve had some of these horrible products before, and have thrown them away, I wouldn’t wish that troubleshooting experience on anyone.
This is NOT one of those products. This is a proper 802.11 IP device which will connect to your WiFi network. It works just like any other WiFi device.
I would have loved to see 5GHz wireless support, as your faster 802.11n implementations are riding on 5GHz, and 5GHz is a much cleaner spectrum than 2.4GHz, much more capable of handling the excess video traffic.
I would not recommend buying any large number of these cameras if your intention is to record wirelessly to a server. They’d be fine in bulk if you are doing low bandwidth motion-based recording, using a MicroSD card, or if you ran an ethernet cable to every camera.
By the way, to save you some time from having to run the software CD, the camera grabs a DHCP lease, so just check your DHCP leases table and you will find its IP address. The default username is “admin” with no password. :)
This review is from: TRENDnet TPL-308E2K Powerline 200 AV Nano Adapter Kit Up to 200Mbps
Pros: I live in a fairly large 2 story house which also has a basement. There was not a single place in this house where I could not get a signal from the powerline adapter, which I found impressive. This should work fine for most sized houses.
In general, my connection throughout the house was fairly low latency (added latency 3-6 milliseconds under good conditions) and generally provided acceptable speeds, faster than my Internet connection. This would work in a pinch to extend my Internet connection to any area of my house without running a cable.
I tested the adapter’s ability to function while connected to cheap power strips, GFI outlets, and the surge-only side of an APC UPS. In all of these situations, the powerline adapter continued to function acceptably for me.
The connection provided by this adapter should be more reliable than a wireless connection, and in my testing this was reflected. Although latency went up when the connection was under load, there was never any packet loss, even when the connection was under very heavy stress.
In an area where there is a lot of wireless interference, a wireless bridge would have serious performance and reliability related concerns. This is where a solution like a powerline ethernet adapter is perfect. The connection from this adapter may be faster than 802.11g in most situations, but your mileage may vary.
Performance with this adapter was very similar to other powerline networking gear I've tried from some of the big name brands.
Cons: The powerline ethernet adapter does make a slight, somewhat high pitched, hissing sound when it’s on. I’ve had some other low-end networking gear, like switches, that have made similar noise but have still functioned flawlessly for years, so it’s probably not a big deal.
The powerline connection is not as fast as typical 802.11n or 802.11ac WiFi. It is also not as fast as advertised... I was only able to pull about 60Mbps on iperf testing in the best of conditions. As I moved farther fro mmy base station, I averaged about 40Mbps in some areas, and 30Mbps in others.
In some areas of my basement, with the powerline adapter upstairs, I had low signal and got an amber connection status LED. When this happened, my performance got worse, and I saw speeds maxing out at 10-15Mbps and higher latency (close to 500ms) when this slower connection was placed under heavy load. There is certainly room for improvement in the device’s performance.
This device is not a replacement for running a dedicated CAT5 or CAT6 cable. It’s a replacement for a wireless bridge in a situation when cable can’t be run. In general, I think that is how powerline networking should be regarded.
Because of the nature of a UPS and the nature of powerline networking, the powerline adapter can only ever be run on the “Surge Only” side of a UPS (if you’re lucky). While this is not a huge issue, it does mean that your powerline network connection can never be safe from power failures. I have all of my core networking devices on UPS backup, so in the event of utility power loss, I still have functional WiFi and wired connections to all of my critical areas. This would never be possible with a powerline adapter. For any serious networking setup, this is a very serious weakness. For your entertainment center, an old computer in the basement, or some other non-mission-critical system that’s not on a backup battery anyway, this is probably fine.
Other Thoughts: For most people, the speed performance I saw under normal conditions would be fine for using the Internet, watching online video, and so forth. The speeds for file transfers over the local network would be less than you would see with a network cable, or a newer WiFi standard.
In some situations, this may perform better than a WiFi bridge, especially if there are a lot of other WiFi access points in your area, or a lot of 2.4GHz phones around. The powerline adapter might be a nice way to offload some bandwidth from your WiFi network, but it won’t necessarily be as fast as your WiFi.
I was iperf testing with a Lenovo ThinkPad W520 laptop with an Intel i7 processor, very much capable of pushing 900Mbps on my iperf tests with the raw ethernet cable I plugged into the powerline adapter. Any performance degradation I experienced in my tests should be directly due to the powerline adapter’s performance.