Two Good Budget Tablets for Work under $300

If you are looking for a budget tablet for work/office productivity tasks, and also some play, you should consider buying one of the two tablet models from Asus, shown below.

1. Asus T100TA-H1-GR(S) Detachable 2-in-1 Tablet:

  • Introductory Video:

Let’s admit it – A tablet is just a toy if it doesn’t have a keyboard, if its monitor isn’t large enough for office productivity apps, and if it can’t run Windows-based applications for work & office usage. This 10.1″ tablet from Asus comes with a detachable keyboard dock and built-in Windows 8.1 Operating System/MS Office Home & Student edition, which makes it a perfect budget tablet for work. And play.

Important specifications:

  • Detachable 2-in-1 Touch Screen Laptop + Tablet.
  • 10.1″ HD Screen
  • 32/64 GB SSD Storage (tablet) + 500 GB hard-drive storage (keyboard dock).
  • Windows 8.1 OS; Pre-installed MS Office Home & Student 2013 – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote.
  • Intel 1.3GHz Atom Processor, 2 GB RAM
  • 11-hour battery life
  • 1.2 MP Webcam
  • USB 3.0 port; Micro USB; Micro HDMI; Bluetooth 4.0; MicroSDXC ports.
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi built-in
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 2.4 lbs

Advantages:

  • The bundled software cost of Windows OS and MS Office package is much more if bought separately – these two are important for work.
  • 11 hour battery life makes it ideal for usage during travel/airplanes.
  • Free unlimited web storage from Asus for one year.
  • Can add additional storage to the tablet via SD Card Slot. The 500 GB HDD storage on the keyboard dock (available in two models) is sufficient for storage in most cases.
  • 178-degree viewing angle.
  • Auto adjustment of display brightness based on your environment.
  • Sonic Master true-to-life sound.
  • Mouse and touch screen can be used at the same time.
  • Detachable keyboard – make it work like a laptop or a tablet, at will!
  • Light weight (even with the keyboard case).
  • Excellent price, Asus is a good brand that makes quality hardware.

Limitations:

  • Single USB port – you might want to buy a USB hub additionally.
  • Limited storage on the tablet, but storage can be extended via SD card.
  • No DVD/Optical drive.
  • Keys on the keyboard not backlit, keys are a bit smaller compared to normal laptops.
  • No built-in 3G/4G data option/SIM slot.
  • The tablet doesn’t bend 180 degrees backwards while attached to the dock (bending angle is limited).

Price (USD)/Buy From (USA): Amazon web-page for,

2. Asus VivoTab TF810C-C2-GR 11.6″ Tablet:

  • Introductory Video:

This Asus VivoTab has a large 11.6″ screen, Wacom Digitizer Stylus, Windows 8 OS, MS Office Home & Student Full Edition, front & rear webcam & 64 GB built-in SSD. The only thing it doesn’t have is a keyboard dock, but you can always buy a bluetooth keyboard/dock (and mouse) to use with this tablet. (Note: The keyboard dock shown in the above video is no longer available). This is a tablet that can become a laptop, if you want it to.

Important Specifications:

  • 11.6″ HD Screen
  • Wacom Digitizer Stylus (1024-level)
  • Windows OS, MS Office Home & Student – Full version
  • 64 GB SSD built-in storage, SD Card Slot
  • Intel Atom Z2760 1.8 GHz processor, 2 GB RAM
  • 8 Hours battery life
  • 1.5 lbs, 0.1″ width
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi built-in
  • USB port, Micro SD card slot, audio jack, Micro HDMI port
  • NFC sensor
  • 2 MP Front Cam, 6 MP Rear Cam
  • Quad Speakers

Advantages:

  • Large screen – 11.6″ HD display makes working on office productivity applications, a breeze. It comes with multi-touch display and 178 degree viewing angle.
  • Windows 8 OS + MS Office Home & Student Edition full version included. The cost of this software, if bought separately, can be much higher.
  • Wacom Digitizer Stylus – 1024 levels – Use it for precision input, as a mouse, for doodling, drawing simple graphics, natural writing experience, etc.
  • Metallic finish makes it look and feel good.
  • SonicMaster Quad speakers makes it a multimedia powerhouse.
  • Very attractively priced, especially for a quality hardware device from a popular brand (Asus).
  • Integrates with OneDrive for cloud storage. Asus provides 32 GB of free cloud storage for 3 years.
  • OneNote & SuperNote along with the stylus make it easy to take notes.
  • Users can install any application available for Windows 8 PC (as full Windows 8 OS is included).
  • SD card slot expands the available memory in the tablet.
  • Full HD video recording.

Limitations:

  • No DVD/Optical disk drive.
  • No built-in 3G/4G connectivity.
  • Doesn’t come with a keyboard dock.
  • There is no slot to hold the pen in the tablet, but it comes with an elastic loop.
  • Limited storage capacity.

Price (USD)/Buy From (USA): Amazon webpage for,

Optional:

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Synology NAS for USB Hard-drives (EDS14)

Synology EDS14 NAS for USB Harddrives

Synology has introduced a new NAS (Network Attached Storage) system that connects to (up to) two USB hard-drives and one SD card. I mean, just that – there is no provision to insert internal hard-drives! Generally, a NAS device is known by the number of internal hard-drives it supports (1-bay, 2-bay, etc.) and Synology has done away with that concept, with this model. Will this impress home and SOHO users? We’ll have to wait and watch.

A NAS system is designed to be connected to the network (via the network port – RJ-45), store data/files of all systems (comp, mobiles, etc.) connected to the network, and share/stream to multiple devices (over the network), as and when required. A USB hard-drive, on the other hand can connect only to one system (at a time) through the USB port of that system.

This device (Synology EDS14) is compact (palm-sized) and light weight (300 grams). The company claims it’s very rugged and can withstand temperature extremities. There are two USB ports (only one USB 3.0, the other is USB 2.0) and one High-speed SDXC UHS-1 SD card slot. I think they should have given two USB 3.0 ports, considering the critical application this device is designed for.

What’s the maximum capacity this device can support directly? USB-based External Hard-drive: 1 x 4 TB (USB 3.0 port), 1 x 1 or 2 TB (USB 2.0 port); SD Card: 128/256 GB (at the time of writing this article).

The Synology EDS14 NAS also comes with two network ports to connect it to the wired network. Heck, it supports premium availability features like link aggregation and failover! The popular Synology DSM (Disk Station Manager) NAS OS is used to manage this one also, and almost all features available with higher-level DSM-based NAS units from Synology seem to be available with this device.

For the compact model that it is, the Marvel Armada 370 1.2 GHz processor and 512 MB DDR3 RAM is quite fine. The three-year warranty definitely helps. The main advantage with Synology NAS systems is the extensive list of native and third-party applications that extend the NAS system to do many other functions, apart from storage and backup. You can almost use this device like a server! All those apps are available for the EDS14 device too.

The 111.94 MB/s and 50.4 MB/s read and write speeds with USB 3.0 (as advertised by the vendor) seems to be on the higher side, especially with a USB interface. Practically, those speeds will be lower. The fanless design (for quiet operation) and support for extreme temperatures are definitely a plus. Support for PoE splitters to be deployed in a PoE environment is another advantage.

Synology has introduced a unique device for the home/SOHO market – the concept seems to be interesting, but whether external hard-drives can be used for demanding 24×7 NAS applications remains to be seen. As is the performance. If you already have external hard-drives and are just looking to convert them into NAS storage devices, this model maybe a good option. Otherwise, you can just use them as secondary backup and buy a regular 1-bay or 2-bay NAS from Synology.

Further information/Specifications: Synology EDS14 NAS.

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Image credit: Synology website (linked above).

Entry-Level NAS: WD My Cloud Personal Cloud Storage

Video Introduction:

WD My Cloud Personal Cloud Storage is an entry-level NAS storage system that offers up to 4 TB of space to store (and backup) your files & media. The best thing about a NAS system is: it is a network-connected centralized storage unit that can be simultaneously accessed by multiple users connected on the wired or wireless network in your home. A USB hard drive, on the other hand, connects to the USB port of just one PC/system. This device will automatically backup photos and files from designated folders on your computer(s) and mobile devices.

You can store and access the data stored in WD My Cloud device from anywhere, using any device (computer, tablet, smart phone) – over the Internet. It’s a personal cloud but without all those monthly/yearly payments charged by the online cloud providers. That’s why it’s called My Cloud! All you need to do is, install this device at home, connect it to the network/Internet, and that’s it.

Connectivity Architecture of a Personal NAS system:

CONNECTIVITY-ARCHITECTURE-ENTRY-LEVEL-NAS

As shown above, there are two ways to connect the NAS system. You can connect it either to the wired port of a Wi-Fi Router (OR) to the wired port of a network switch. Both these devices are connected to a modem (cable, DSL) for Internet connectivity on one end; and users – computer, laptop and other wired networking devices with the network switch; laptop, tablet, smart phone and other wireless networking devices with the Wi-Fi router (as shown in the above diagram), on the other end.

Please note: Wi-Fi routers can connect both wireless and wired networking devices (if they have wired ports built-into them – most do). But the performance of the NAS system on a wired network is better than a wireless network.

Important Features of Western Digital My Cloud NAS System:

  • Centralized personal cloud storage system for storage & backup of files and media for everyone in your home.
  • WD apps are available for PC, Mac, iOS, Android. You can access your cloud-stored content from anywhere (via the net) if you connect the NAS system to the Internet.
  • Automatic backup of select folders from your computer; Time Machine integration for Mac users.
  • USB 3.0 port for adding additional storage (via external USB hard-drives).
  • Gigabit Ethernet and Dual Core processor for fast connectivity and quick processing.
  • Password protection for data stored in certain folders, restricted access to (specific) users.
  • DLNA & UPnP support for streaming to compliant devices (TV, etc.); iTunes support.
  • Direct photo uploads from your camera via USB cable.

Detailed Features/Specifications: Western Digital My Cloud product page.

Advantages:

  • The WD My Cloud entry-level NAS system can stream HD, BluRay and other high-resolution content across the LAN network to any DLNA certified device. So, you can store your movies and music once, in this device, and all family members can stream from here (to their own devices) whenever required. There is no need to store the same media at multiple locations, freeing space in other devices.
  • By default, all folders will have read and write access for everyone, but you can create users (with their own passwords) and restrict access to certain folders. You can also hide folders, or give read-only access, to some users.
  • With a USB hub, you can attach more than one USB hard drive to this NAS system (for expansion or secondary backup). With a powered USB hub, you can attach as many as 7 external hard drives, all of which can be accessed through the NAS. But be advised that the speed of data transfer will be lower for external drives attached in this fashion (especially through a USB hub).
  • Content Scan is a feature that enables WD My Cloud NAS device to automatically scan the network for multimedia content and present it to you (for selecting).
  • Snapshot feature allows you to make a copy of the entire WD My Cloud disk and save it to an external hard drive. You can restore this snapshot (back to the NAS device) anytime in the future in case you lose the content on WD My Cloud NAS. This enables you to back up all the contents of the NAS, just in case the internal hard drive fails. (Hard-drives can fail – it’s better to be prepared for the eventuality).
  • Even when you remotely access the content on your NAS drive through the WD website, your content and files are stored on your devices, and not on WD servers.
  • Internet cloud service providers like Amazon, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. offer a limited free storage capacity and then charge (monthly/yearly) for additional storage. With WD My Cloud, you don’t pay any recurring costs for storing/retrieving data, and your content is securely stored in your premises. There is only a fixed one-time cost to buy the device.
  • Photos and media can be set up to upload automatically, once you connect the devices (holding them) to your network.
  • Even if there is a power shutdown, the device will automatically power up (once the power is back) and no settings will be lost. It is better to connect it through a UPS, but UPS is not mandatory.

Limitations/Tips:

  • Though you can connect the NAS system over the Wi-Fi network (via Wireless router), data transfer will be faster if you connect it to a wired gigabit network (Cat 6 cables and gigabit switch ports).
  • You can either drag and drop files to the NAS device or map important folders so that content in them is automatically be backed up to the NAS.
  • If you find the device disappearing from the network, assign a static IP address to the NAS instead of the default DHCP IP address which keeps changing.
  • You cannot connect the WD My Cloud entry-level NAS system to computer or laptop’s USB port (for file transfer). You have to connect it to the network (wired network port of a Wireless router or network switch), and connect the computer/laptop also to the same network.
  • If you have to use the wireless network, try to use 802.11ac wireless routers and clients, for faster data transfer. Also, try to connect USB 3.0 compliant external hard drive to the USB port (of the NAS device) for better performance.
  • Turn off sleep mode if you have any issues accessing files remotely from this device. File transfer from a remote location (over the Internet) maybe slow, depending on your connection speeds. Internet bandwidth charges may apply if you don’t have an unlimited plan.
  • The WD My Cloud personal storage system comes in only one color, but it looks good.
  • Please note that this is a single bay NAS system and hence you cannot add more hard drives into it. But you can attach external hard drives via the USB port. Consider the total space you might need in a couple of years, while selecting the appropriate NAS model.

Price (USD)/Buy From (US): Amazon product page for,

Alternatives: You can buy 2/3 TB models, in addition to the 4 TB model. Refer to the above link for options and prices. 4 TB model is recommended.

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Retractable RJ-45 Network Cable

The Tera Grand Cat 7 STP Retractable Network Cable/patch cable (1.5 meters, 5 feet) is a useful addition to your network equipment toolkit. This cable is basically a 5 feet cable that is wound around a central pulley. This set up helps save space and eliminate clutter (due to long cables) in homes and workplaces.

You can pull the cables out when you want to use, and release it back to wind up in the center once you are done with it.

Here are some applications for the Retractable RJ-45 Network Cable:

  • A traveler can carry it in his/her briefcase.
  • In conference rooms and other locations where Wi-Fi signal is overloaded users can connect to the wired network using this cable.
  • Can be used in hotel rooms where there is a wired port but no cable.
  • Can be used as a Backup cable, if the normal cable/patch cord fails.
  • Can be carried around easily, along with a portable router.
  • Mobile workers can use it to connect to the network anywhere they go. Normally, extra cables may not be available at client sites, etc.
  • One can keep it inside their laptop bag, pouch or even their pocket – you never know when you need a network cable!

Since the Tera Grand retractable network cable is Cat 7 compliant, it supports higher speeds and bandwidth (up to 10 Gbps!). This cable is backward compatible to Cat 5E, Cat 6 standards. Since Cat 7 is the latest and the fastest, you can be rest assured that this cable will not become obsolete in the near future. Also, this is an STP (Shielded Twisted pair Cable), and hence it can withstand more noise and interference from external sources, than the normal UTP (Unshielded Twisted pair) cables.

The five feet length is sufficient for most cases (especially for a mobile cable), but longer variants could have been made available for specific use cases. This unit maybe slightly bulkier than other retractable cable units, but that’s because it supports the bulkier Cat 7 standard and the make is sturdier. It is recommended to buy this cable over the cheaper ones because the latter are prone to get broken or retracting mechanism may fail.

One tip: Try to pull both sides at once (while pulling it out) in order not to break it. A simple tug at both ends of the cable releases the lock and engages the recoil.

The slightly higher price for this retractable cable, in my opinion, is justified because this cable is sturdier, supports STP & Cat 7 standards, is five-feet long, and is future-proof. You can even use it for regular  and demanding applications like conference rooms, etc. where people want to use cables only at certain times, and don’t want cluttering of cables all over the place.

Manufacturer’s webpage: Tera Grand Cat-7 STP Retractable cable.

Price (USD)/Buy from (US): Amazon product page for,

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Toshiba Introduces Canvio AeroMobile Wireless SSD

Toshiba has introduced a new Canvio AeroMobile Wireless SSD (Solid State Device) for data storage. This device comes with its own built-in Wi-Fi adapter & battery.

Generally, you need to connect an external hard-drive or SSD drive to a computer/laptop (via USB drive) to transfer data/files. If you have a mobile/tablet, you need to transfer the content to the computer, and once again transfer the content to the external hard-drive from the computer. This is a two-step & somewhat cumbersome process.

Now since this new Canvio AeroMobile Wireless SSD (128 GB) comes with a wireless adapter and battery, you can just take this device with you, and connect it wirelessly to your mobile devices/tablets on the go. Once you take a picture or shoot a video (on your smart phone), you can instantly transfer the file to this SSD drive over Wi-Fi, and that also frees up space on your mobile device.

Want more? This SSD also comes with a SD card slot – you can remove the SD card from your mobile device, plug it into this drive and transfer content that way too. The best part is: Up to 8 users can connect wirelessly to this SSD, simultaneously. So, you can store all your media on this SSD drive, stream it to multiple users, and almost use it like a NAS! Be advised, although, that the wireless network is not as robust or as fast as the wired network to which a NAS generally connects.

The Toshiba Canvio AeroMobile SSD supports an Internet pass-through mode. Hence your mobile can continue to browse the Internet while transferring/ accessing the files on this device. Do note that the Toshiba Canvio wireless SSD needs to be connected to a power source after the 8 hours of battery life is exhausted. Also, since it’s an SSD, it doesn’t have any rotating disks, and hence it is more reliable and faster than normal hard-drives. That reliability and speed comes at a higher cost, but the wireless feature more than makes up for the cost, I guess.

An excellent product from Toshiba that you’d definitely want to check out.

Further details/Manufacturer’s webpage: Toshiba Canvio AeroMobile Wireless SSD.

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TRENDnet has announced DD-WRT Open Source Firmware Compliance for Routers

TRENDnet has recently announced DD-WRT Open Source firmware compliance for their high-end Wireless AC routers (TRENDnet TEW-818DRU (v1.0), TEW-812DRU (v2.0), and TEW-811DRU (v1.0) Wireless AC routers). There is one caveat though: the three-year warranty on these wireless routers will be void, if you replace the router firmware with open source DD-WRT!

DD-WRT, if you didn’t already know, is an open source cross-platform wireless router firmware that enables users to extend the functionality of wireless routers, much beyond what their current firmware can give them (In some cases, certain functionality may be lost also!).

Among others, DD-WRT allows your router to provide enhanced access restrictions, hotspot Internet access, wireless mesh networking, advanced QoS prioritization with WMM support, Wake On LAN, increased range/power intensity, dual/multiple LAN connections, ability to extend VLAN to wired ports of a wireless router, using the router as a client, bridge, or access point, provide advanced USB port functionality, etc. For a comprehensive list of features provided by DD-WRT, refer to this post.

Previously, depending on the model, users had to unofficially install the DD-WRT firmware by themselves (only few models were compatible). But now, it’s good to see manufacturers come forward and announce DD-WRT firmware compatibility by themselves. Many Linksys and Buffalo routers are also DD-WRT compliant. DD-WRT open source software also gives better compatibility between wireless routers manufactured by different vendors.

Let’s hope that companies will also consider extending warranty support for routers that install this firmware, in the near future.

You can get further info on the router models supported by TRENDnet, their product pages,  and their video links from here.

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Kinivo ZX100 External Speaker for Phone, PC & iPod (Review)

Kinivo ZX100 is one cute little portable external speaker for your computer, mobile phone, tablet or iPod/iPad. It plugs to mobile/computing systems using the standard 3.5mm audio jack, and comes with built-in rechargeable Li-Ion batteries. There is a power button, volume+ & volume- button right on the device – I need not depend on my mobile phone/computer for these controls. It is especially useful with mobile phone as the screen sleeps off frequently.

There is a LED indicator light that indicates when the device is On/charging is On. There are two cables – One 3.5mm audio cable/jack that comes attached to the device. You can connect this directly to the 3.5mm audio jack of any device – laptop, mobile phone, iPod, iPad, tablets, etc. This is short – 3 inches long (approx). There is another (slightly) longer cable that connects 3.5mm audio jack of mobile/computing devices with Mini-USB port on this device. This cable also has another USB port which connects to the USB power-adapter or USB port of a computer, for charging. The best thing is: You can listen to music even while the battery is charging.

There is a small bass enhancer which can be activated by turning the disk above the speaker (shown in the above photo). Since I don’t listen (much) to bass-rich songs, I am not sure how much this feature adds to the speaker – the quality of sound from this speaker is good even without the bass enhancer.

My mobile phone has built-in speaker (which mobile doesn’t), but the quality of sound is – let’s say – not up to the mark. That’s the reason why I’ve not been listening to songs using the mobile speaker. I hate headphones – I find them very annoying and I don’t think they are good for the ears either. But since I got this speaker, this and the mobile phone have been sitting right next to me on my bed to play all the songs I have loaded in it.

The volume is very good on my computer (I have almost stopped using my other external speaker with amplifier after I got this one). This little speaker has replaced my headphones, as well. The only issue is: I find it a little jarring to switch it on every time I want to use it – but that’s OK, considering the other advantages.

One of the biggest plus point of this mini speaker – other than the audio quality (which is very good) – is its portability. You can gauge its size from the above two photos – I’ve kept it next to my 4″ android mobile phone. The Kinivo ZX100 comes with a small pouch – you can just place the speaker inside it, put it in your pocket, put your phone in the same pocket, and your mobile music system is ready! I am not sure how good it is in an external environment, but I love it inside my room, even with my noisy fan switched On! Do remember that this is a personal speaker and hence not designed to cover an entire living-room, etc.

The manufacturer says that when charged once (2 hours), it can play songs for 6 hours. I’ve been playing songs over the last three days (I guess for more than 6 hours) and it has still not lost its charge. I love that Li-Ion batteries have been used in this system instead of AA/AAA batteries (in other speakers) which we need to constantly buy/replace.

On the limitations front, the longer cable could have been even more longer (it’s effectively only one feet in length). But for me the cable length is not an issue because I keep this speaker on the ground along with the laptop/mobile phone. But if you want to hold your tablet/phone on your hand and keep the speaker on the ground, that might be difficult. The LED light keeps glowing and cannot be turned off, but you can always turn the speaker to hide the LED light from your view. The quality of sound is very good, but the volume is not that high. The max. volume is good on my laptop, but is not so good with my mobile. But since it is a personal speaker, and sits right next to me, I feel quality of sound is more important than volume.

At under $20 USD, being so portable, extremely well designed, and offering good quality music, this speaker is a wonderful buy if you listen to/want to listen to music frequently. But if you want a speaker to watch movies with family/friends, you might want to buy some higher-range speaker. I’ve replaced my laptop headphones with this one and I am using it along with my phone to listen to music while lying down on my bed. It is perfect for these two applications. Go ahead and buy it if your application is similar – you won’t be disappointed :)

More info/technical specifications: Manufacturer’s webpage for Kinivo ZX 100.

Price (USD)/Buy from (USA): Amazon product page for,

*** Kinivo ZX100 Mini Portable Speaker with Rechargeable Battery and Enhanced Bass Resonator.

Alternative model: (Wired + Wireless Bluetooth Speaker)

Kinivo BTX350 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker.

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Kinivo BTD-300 Bluetooth USB Adapter for Computer/Laptop (Review)

Kinivo BTD-300 Bluetooth USB Adapter for Computer/Laptop (shown above) is a small USB-connected device that enables bluetooth connectivity for the laptop/computer. It plugs into the computer via an external USB port. You need to consider buying this adapter if your computer/laptop doesn’t have a built-in bluetooth adapter already (some computers have, but mine doesn’t).

The main application of the external bluetooth adapter is to connect a computer/laptop to bluetooth-enabled devices like wireless headphones, wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, mobile phones, tablets, printers, etc. Once the two devices are paired (via bluetooth) you can transfer files, stream music, etc. Bluetooth is similar to Wi-Fi, but it’s slower, has a limited range, and consumes less power. Bluetooth is commonly used to connect wireless headphones/mouse with computer/mobile.

Kinivo BT-300 USB Bluetooth adapter occupies only one USB port and allows me to connect another USB cable/device in the adjacent port. With only two USB ports on my computer, this is very important to me. Their site says that the adapter works only with Windows and Mac OS, but I connected it to my Linux Mint 9 OS (and Ubuntu 12.04 Linux OS) and it works perfectly fine. I took just a couple of minutes to install and pair it with my mobile phone, and I was able to transfer a 10 MB song immediately afterwards.

The issue with transferring large files using bluetooth is, the speed/bandwidth is limited. My file was transferred at 100 Kbps, which, when compared to Mbps speeds of wired connections, is quite slow. I may use this bluetooth adapter as a backup to my USB cable as I can pair it with my cell phone to transfer files, and even connect to the Internet through it. But my main (future) application will be to use the adapter with wireless headphones & wireless mouse. For now, I am happy that the adapter is inexpensive and works well on Linux OS.

The adapter comes with flickering blue lights (not very bright) to indicate that bluetooth is working. I was able to retain the bluetooth wireless connection at all corners of my 12 feet x 12 feet room. The manufacturer says that the adapter can connect with devices up to 10 meters away (though I didn’t try going so far). The adapter occupies one USB port, and that’s a limitation. But I will plug it only when I require it – so, it’s fine. This adapter comes with 2-year warranty and is comparatively inexpensive.

This particular adapter is Bluetooth v3.0 compatible, but for a slightly higher cost, you can also get the latest adapter that is Bluetooth v4.0 compatible (faster – recommended, if you don’t mind the little price difference).

Specifications/Further Info: Manufacturer’s web-page for Kinivo BTD-300.

Price (USD)/But From (USA): Amazon web-page for,

*** Kinivo BTD-300 Bluetooth 3.0 USB adapter – For Windows 7 / Windows XP / Vista, Mac OS 10.3.9 or Later.

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D-Link Introduces Wi-Fi Smart Plug to Control Electrical Appliances over the Network

Video Introduction:

D-Link has introduced a new Wi-Fi Smart Plug (DSP-W215) that enables users to switch off/switch on certain electrical appliances connected through it using their mobile phones, from a remote location (over the Internet) or within the wireless network at home.

For example, one can fix this smart plug onto an existing power outlet at home and then connect a lamp to it. The smart plug (with built-in Wi-Fi adapter) connects to the home Wi-Fi network (yes, it’s required) and thereupon connects to the Internet. With the provided free mobile app, one can control their electrical appliance anywhere from within the home or from a remote location (over the Internet).

So, using your mobile, you can switch on your portico lights before you reach home. You can also schedule appliances to automatically switch on/off at certain times. With certain appliances like an electric iron, the built-in thermal sensor of the smart plug can sense if it is over-heated and switch it of automatically. So, if you forget to switch off the iron box while going to the office you need not worry. D-Link says you can also monitor the electric current usage of all appliances connected through it and (perhaps) save some energy. Or at least be conscious of the amount of energy that is being spent.

As you might have guessed, the Wi-Fi network at home should always be On, to enable you to control the devices over the network. The Wi-Fi network should be available at the place where you are connecting the electrical appliance with this plug. This Wi Fi Smart Plug cannot control non-pluggable devices like fans or tube-lights. You can switch on and off appliances, but you can’t do other functions like control the intensity, etc. Your mobile phone should be connected to Internet (Wi-Fi or 3G) for remote controlling.

I think it’s a good device that enables remote control of appliances. The thermal sensor and auto-switch off for electric iron (based on the heat level) is an excellent (additional) feature to have. But do check if the appliance you want to control can be connected through this plug, before buying. If you have the right application, the D-Link DSP-W215 is a good device to try.

Further info/Manufacturer’s website: D-Link Wi Fi Smart Plug DSP-W215.

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TRENDnet introduces Outdoor Dome/Bullet IP Cameras

TRENDnet View Pro Camera Management Software overview

TRENDnet has introduced four new IP Surveillance Camera models – 2 MP, 3 MP, dome & bullet outdoor cameras. These cameras support HD recording, 3x – 3.5x fixed optical zoom, night vision (IR) covering 15 – 30m, H.264 compression, outdoor IP66 rating (for all-weather durability), PoE – Power over Ethernet (single Cat 6 cable carries both data and power, provided the switch it connects to supports PoE), mobile apps for viewing/managing from mobile devices, etc.

Please note: Features vary according to the model. Have a look at the specifications, features, and cost of these camera models from the official TRENDnet web-page: Here (3 MP model) and here (2 MP model).

The TRENDnet View Pro software (introductory video embedded above) is a nice free addition and it can help you view/manage up to 32 TRENDnet cameras from a single location. Based on Windows OS, it supports features such as preset position recordings, motion detection & recording, multiple storage locations, integration with physical alarms, timeline view for easy recording and retrieving of recorded footage, multiple window view to enable viewing of footage from many cameras simultaneously, etc.

You can view the sample footage recorded with 2 MP & 3 MP dome type cameras from here & here respectively. While there are many companies making surveillance cameras, TRENDnet offers good quality, offers HD recording for a decent price, and offers a professional management interface. If your application is simple day-time monitoring with limited night-time recording, these two cameras maybe a good option to consider.

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