They're small, they're compact, and they affect the entire outcome of a war. Unfortunately, we’re not talking about hobbits. It’s your Wi-Fi router.
05 November, 2018 | Posted by: Kyle Weckerly
Category: Entertainment, News, Product Reviews, Service Providers, Streaming, Technology | No Comments
They're small, they're compact, and they affect the entire outcome of a war.
Unfortunately, we’re not talking about hobbits.
It’s your Wi-Fi router.
Wi-Fi, the wireless internet connection used in almost all homes and businesses, is made available through a Wi-Fi router. Most Wi-Fi customers get their Wi-Fi through the router provided by their ISP (internet service provider) or cable company. These do a good job of handling the basics of wireless uploading and downloading.
They’re not the worst routers out there. At the same time, they aren’t the best. They do an average job.
But there are brands out there producing above-average routers. You’ve probably already heard of their names; Asus, Netgear, D-Link, and Linksys.
There are more, and a quick search of PC Mag, CNet, and Tom’s Guide can give you a more thorough overview of the various and sundry brands out there.
The inevitable next question you’re thinking is “Which one’s the best?”
A Wi-Fi is essential these days for internet connectivity. This makes Wi-Fi routers essential, even if every home doesn't have one. ISPs and cable companies provide these as part of their basic package. There are some consumers out there who want something better though.
Should you decide to buy your own, you’ll have to make the decision based on a few factors. Near the top of the list would be cost and customer reviews. While there are some that cost more than others, it doesn’t mean it’s the best.
Your home, like you, is unique.
Don’t just go with the router that is labelled “the best” by a source that doesn’t know you.
That's like saying Frodo was the best hobbit.
You know, hobbits, from The Lord of the Rings.
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world, there were wizards, humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, and dragons. The smallest of these creatures were the hobbits. These were the guys who were half the height of dwarves. Being that dwarves were half the height of humans, this made hobbits very, very short.
As a result, hobbits were seen as unimportant. Irrelevant even.
And the hobbits, as Tolkien explained, were happy with this. They were fine to stay in their part of the world and not bother with international politics. If the outside world didn't interfere with them, they would leave the outside world alone.
One such hobbit, Frodo Baggins, came into possession of the One Ring- the one thing that could decide whether good or evil prevailed.
And so Frodo, small and unimpressive, set out with his friends to take care of the ring. Journeying with him was Samwise Gamgee otherwise known as Sam, Peregrin Took aka Perry, and Meriadoc Brandybuck aka Merry. Each was unique with their own quirks and personality.
These four hobbits, though small and “irrelevant” ended up becoming the deciding factor in entire battle for the soul of the world; Merry would go on to help slay the Witch-King, Perry would play a vital role in distracting the leader of the evil forces, and Sam would help Fordo get all the way to Mt. Doom, where Frodo tossed the One Ring into open lava.
Peace was restored.
Not bad for four hobbits.
While it would be easy to say that Frodo was the best hobbit of all because he destroyed the One Ring, that’d be a little presumptuous. He did have the hardest job, but without help from the other three, Frodo would have never gotten close to Mt. Doom.
It's okay then to prefer Sam, Merry, or Perry to Frodo. People have their reasons for liking one over the other. Just like they have their reasons for not choosing "the best" product out there.
Like when it comes to picking a Wi-Fi router.
Before picking a router, take stock of your Wi-Fi needs at home.
For those using one device on a consistent basis, 5 Mbps is the download speed that works best for you. With that in mind, you can save some money by avoiding the higher end routers.
If you’re downloading content on multiple devices--like through your Apple TV and streaming a game on your PlayStation 4--getting a download speed of 45 Mbps is best to handle the larger amount of data going back and forth.
Knowing this will help you decide which router is best for your home.
For homes with light internet usage, a single-band router is best. For homes with heavy internet usage, a dual-band router would be best.
Single-band routers use just one frequency.
This is great if you’re using a few devices throughout your home. They can handle the usual amount of data going back and forth.
The downside is the frequency they use, 2.4 GHz. This frequency is usually used by Bluetooth devices, microwaves, and wireless phones. Those devices can inadvertently disrupt your Wi-Fi signal.
The dual-band routers use the 2.4 GHz frequency and a second frequency of 5 GHz. That 5 GHz frequency is less common. This second frequency is better used for third-party devices, giving you a less-impeded channel to work with.
Dual-band routers are great for homes where multiple devices are downloading at once. You can even assign a channel to a specific device. And with more than one frequency in use, downloads can be performed simultaneously instead of one at a time.
As you would expect, dual-band routers are more expensive, so take that into account when you decide to purchase.
No matter the router you decide to buy, you’ll notice that all will come with a number and the letters “AC.”
AC refers to Wi-Fi protocol number, 802.11ac. AC is the version of the protocol in use. There’s 802.11b, 802.11m, and others. The letters denote the gradual improvements and modifications over previous versions.
When it comes to designing routers, the engineers involved decided to use this "AC" for labeling purposes. The AC is for the protocol number. 802.11ac indicates the level of the Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MIMO) the router is capable of. For example; Of all the data streaming through the router at one time, the projected maximum speed the router can handle is something like 1300 Mbps. You won’t get that speed exactly, but the router can hypothetically handle the volume of 1300 Mbps. Therefore, if you’re downloading 50 Mbps in one room and 30 Mbps in another, an AC1300 router will handle that just fine.
Of all the numbers on your router, look for the one that starts with “AC.” This is the best indicator of whether your router can handle the amount of data you plan to be downloading and uploading at one time.
Now that we’ve gotten the numbers and bands bit out of the way, let’s talk about the brand themselves. All brands listed below come highly rated. This doesn’t mean they’re the top brands, but professional reviewers have marked them highly and on a consistent basis.
You can also check out the best brands after you’ve found the best internet providers in your zip code.
If you’re looking into a brand not listed, drop us a comment to let us know what you think, why you like/don’t like it, and whether you’d recommend it over the ones listed below.
You may have recognized the name from the laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other electronics. They’re the fifth largest PC vendor in the world. This means their products are a good alternative to Apple and Microsoft.
Their Wi-Fi routers are consistently ranking highly among review sites like PC Mag, CNet, and Tom’s Guide. While this may mean they’re a little bit more expensive than other brands, they’re worth the price tag to ensure your stream devices run smoothly.
Unlike Asus, Netgear focuses on networking hardware almost exclusively. This gives them an edge over their competition here. It does limit them a little bit when it comes to other products.
Taking the “D” from its founding company, Datex Systems, D-Link is also based out of Taipei along with Asus. Like Netgear, they focus solely on networking equipment.
Owned by Belkin, Linksys is a networking equipment company that creates networking equipment for consumers and small businesses. Unlike Asus, Netgear, and D-Link that provide business and enterprise networking solutions, Linksys prefers to keep it small.
When it comes to reliability, Asus and Netgear rank the highest among their competitors. Brands like Linksys are generally cheaper and easier to use. And the rest will fall somewhere between the two.
This doesn’t mean one brand is the best out of every single one of them. That’s a choice that will b depend on your needs and well as what your home can accommodate.
So which brand do you prefer? Is there a brand that’s not listed here you think should be included?
Leave a comment and let us know.
In the meantime, stay up-to-date with On The Download.
Viasat is one of the two largest satellite internet providers in the United States. The level of excellence is on par with card throwing artists- aka, cardists
02 November, 2018 | Posted by: Kyle Weckerly
Category: Business, Internet Deals & Packages, News, Product Reviews, Satellite Internet, Service Providers, Technology | No Comments
Viasat is one of the two largestin the United States.
That feat alone is fascinating. However, when you take into account how much work is going into providing, maintaining—and excelling—then it’s impressive, to say the least.
Viasat is coordinating a lot to provide satellite internet; they must first launch satellites into space, synchronize them, coordinating the orbits, evaluating the speed, upload, and download times, and more. If a new technology comes out that could improve their systems, then they’ll have to launch a new satellite or make do with what they have already in place.
It’s quite baffling how it all works.
While the satellites may not be the newest out there, they are performing at or above standards. Viasat is currently working on designing, engineering, and launching a new fleet of satellites. They’re continually improving their technology and what’s available out there.
As the race to improve satellite internet begins to heat up, Viasat will be at the forefront, possibly even blazing a path. Doing so involves knowing what’s available, what can be improved upon, and blending the two goals together.
Another way of looking at it is to take a well-known piece of technology and doing things with it that no one thought possible.
Take, for example, a deck of cards.
You can shuffle it and play any game you want; canasta, solitaire, free cell, poker, Texas Hold 'Em, Baccarat, Blackjack, 24, Speed, Nine-Card Flip, Nerts, and the list goes on and on.
Playing games with cards is only one option though. You can build houses with cards too.
Alternatively, you can make the cards do things that don't seem possible- like jumping from one hand to another.
It's an art form called Cardistry.
The term “Cardistry” is the combination of the words “card” and “artistry.”
It’s a type of performance art that involves manipulating cards in unique and eye-popping ways. Much like illusionists who shuffle, palm, and make cards appear with their fingers, cardists create flourishes, passes, tosses, and other means of moving cards around with only their hands and fingers.
Some illusionists will also use this artistry into their acts as a means to distract the audience.
Moreover, there are the card throwing artists who incorporate this into their trick shots. It's a display of their dexterity, as well as a hint to the number of hours they've been practicing.
Cardestry, legerdemain, and card throwing appear simple enough.
Much like satellite internet, it’s merely moving a small object from one place to another. Right?
Cardistry is not as easy as picking up a deck.
To master moving cards effortlessly among your fingers, it takes time and lots, and lots, and lots of practice. If you get a chance to watch a cardist, or even an illusionist who's primary medium is cards, take notice of their hands. You'll notice a strange strength there, as though they've been lifting weights with their fingers. It's a unique trait that stems from handling cards for hours a day. When they pick up a deck, they're comfortable with it.
These hours of repetition is how they attain mastery.
Viasat is doing the same here. By taking a version of a technology, i.e., the satellites already in orbit, they're able to innovate and do impressive things with them.
While Viasat is one of the largest satellite internet providers in the nation, they also have a large number of government contracts.
By working the United States Federal Government, they provide internet access for hard to reach places. These may be embassies or state department offices in remote locations.
Viasat is also providing satellite internet connectivity to our nations armed forces. A big reason for this is ships and aircraft require internet connectivity in their missions. Instead of creating an entirely new network for the government, the government has instead hired out Viasat to do it for them. Viasat, while providing satellite internet for many government and military projects, isn't the only provider sub-contracted to do so.
These projects range from aircraft carriers to individual aircraft.
To connect all these projects to their services, Viasat is working with Boeing. Boeing provides the technology, as well as the means, to maintain their satellite systems in orbit around the earth. The aircraft manufacturer is also working to create new satellites that Viasat will use to update their networks soon.
However, it’s not just the satellites that will set Viasat apart.
Much like it’s not enough to have a flashy deck of cards, Viasat has to know how to use the satellites to their fullest extent. Cardists are the same way. They may get a new deck of cards, but it’s not the cards that make the magic. It’s the cardist that does that.
Also, Viasat is working to make sure this happens as they move satellites around the globe to maintain a stable network.
Viasat, thanks to satellites, is available in 32,787 zip codes. They now have a presence in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. The only stipulation here is that the dish must be able to face south without significant obstructions.
There is a tradeoff with satellites, however.
Transmitting signals down to a dish and waiting for them to return causes latency.
If a customer were to download a large file through their satellite connection, they run the risk of exceeding their download speed. To mitigate this, Viasat has instituted data caps. These data caps are to discourage large downloads. If a customer were to reach their data cap, Viasat could slow down their connection, suspend service for a short while, or charge them for the extra data used.
While annoying, data caps ensure that all customers can enjoy their service.
Viasat’s data caps range from 40 gigabytes to 150 gigs, depending on your plan.
So long as customers remain under the data cap, they do enjoy decent download times.
regularly checks the download speed of providers using their streaming service. Netflix compiles this data into their ISP Speed Index.
For Viasat, from September 2017 to September 2018, they averaged 0.86 Mbps. That speed puts them in the top 75 ISPs (internet service providers) in the nation.
Not bad at all.
As satellite internet technology continues to improve, customers will have more and more options and will increase connectivity between government and military locations, as well as customers in rural areas. As preferable as cable and fiber are, it’s not available everywhere. Waiting for something like that to happen will take years and years of waiting.
Hence, why customers will opt for satellite instead. A satellite dish is more accessible and much faster, to install on their property than wait for fiber. Satellites are able available virtually everywhere in the world.
As Viasat expands their network and their reach, we may soon be seeing it as a serious contender within.
If you’re considering satellite internet in your area, make sure to check outto give you an idea of the upload and download speeds, as well as any deals Viasat may be running in your area.
Just like cardists and other card related entertainers, Viasat is practicing and honing their skills. Much like card throwing, Viasat is literally throwing a card from a great distance to hit a small target. And they’re doing this all the time.
Are you a Viasat Subscriber? Tell us what you like about them in the comments.
For news on new technology for satellite providers, keep your browser open to On The Download.
Netflix provides a lot of content. But should a percentage of that content come from a specific geographic region?
19 October, 2018 | Posted by: Kyle Weckerly
Category: Apps, Business, Entertainment, Humor, News, Streaming, TV | No Comments
Roughly 90% of what I watch, I stream through Netflix. If I’m not streaming through my TV, then I’m streaming it through the Netflix app.
Frontier Communications is going the extra mile for its customers. It's not just a 24/7 customer service...it's almost a personal fellowship.
30 October, 2018 | Posted by: Kyle Weckerly
Category: Business, News, Product Reviews, Service Providers, Technology, Tips | No Comments
Frontier Communications, based out of Norwalk, Connecticut, is going the extra mile for residential and business customers.
While they do have round-the-clock customer service, there is something more that customers can expect.
Let’s set the scene here;
A circular council chamber. Ringing the outside of the chambers are stone chairs. The walls are ornately designed and the windows are stained glass. Outside is a beautiful sunny day. This casts the room in a warm yellow hue with hints of reds and greens from the windows.
Each chair is occupied by what you would expect; a character from a fantasy novel. One’s a wizard, another’s a knight, and there’s elves, dwarves, giants, and other creatures filling out the rest of the seats.
Entering the room is a simple person. No flashy clothes or arrogant airs about this person.
They’re just your average customer. They could be a residential customer or a business customer, makes no difference.
The person is lost. There’s so much information out there that it’s confusing.
And not just confusing, but beyond comprehension.
The council chairs empty as the characters encircle the bewildered guest.
“We’ll help you.” The wizard says. “We’ll show you the way. We are…“
(Pause for dramatic effect)
(Cue music and fade out)
Was that too much?
, Frontier Communications has launched a new marketing campaign- “Don’t Go It Alone.”
For those who think in much more dramatic terms, it is like having your own personal fellowship. Although it won’t be nine creatures from a fantasy realm. Well, seven actually; Aragorn and Boromir are human. But that’s beside the point.
What’s important to remember here is Frontier Communications focus on helping the customer.
And there are two ways they’re doing this.
With the “Don’t Go It Alone” Campaign, Frontier Communications is acting as the guide for technology.
It’s the “in” thing these days to be tech-savvy. For most, however, that’s quite a challenge.
Getting a computer and setting it up has been a simplified process. But getting the most out of your computer, your internet, and even youris something else. Knowing how the computer works with all of its software programs and parts is difficult. In fact, those with computer engineering degrees can find it difficult.
One approach is “trial and error.” Over a long enough timeline of trying, a user will be able to figure out how to make a computer program do a specific task. Like with Excel and figure out averages. One can keep punching in commands to the function bar and they’ll get there eventually.
But who has time for all of that?
By sitting in front of a computer, or with your smartphone, and tapping at all the little icons and punching in commands, you’ll be busy for a while. Though you may not get to the “mastery” level, you’ll at least get to “proficient.” In the meantime, however, you’ll have to forgo spending time with friends, family, and your job.
Again, who has time for that?
And who wants to risk their relationship with their friends, or losing their job?
Frontier Communications is banking on this by training their employees to be all-inclusive “guides.”
Since the campaign was launched on October 9th, 2018, we have yet to see how effective it is.
Frontier Communications is also helping out their business and enterprise customers by launching Frontier Connect WAN.
A WAN (Wide Area Network) is a means to connect parts of a business that may not be in the same place. Given the rise of remote workers, as well as the popularity of outsourcing work, WAN’s are growing in appeal.
By the way, it’s WAN, not wand. We got away from the fantasy allegory a few paragraphs back.
Anyway, WAN’s are similar to LAN’s (local area networks).
Remember, back in the day, when it was just an Xbox?
Everyone was playingcame equipped to hook up to a LAN. This allowed for more than just four players to play against each other. Now they could expand to as many as sixteen.
Back in 1999, this was a big deal.
The main restriction here was the LAN was confined to a specific range, hence the name Local Area.
WAN’s do the same thing but over much greater distances.
This allows for a company or organization to create a WAN and have their own little network. Only employees of the company have access to the WAN.
Frontier Connect WAN is providing this.
By using software to define the WAN, business customers can access it via. Cybersecurity software keeps the WAN contained and free from intruders, while other software allows for sharing and collaboration on files and programs.
Business customers lease the software from Frontier Communications. From there they can create their own “mini-internet.”
Unfortunately, this is for business only. Not a company-wide Halo 1 tournament.
Frontier Communications is available in 29 states, according to their website. They currently have a presence in 8,076 zip codes.
When it comes to downloading speed, Frontier Communications is doing well. This is proven by the Netflix ISP Speed Index. Netflix monitors the download speeds of all the providers who offer the streaming service. During peak hours, generally between 5 pm and 10 pm at night, Netflix is watching to see how fast providers are able to download their content.
From September 2017 to September 2018, Frontier Communications averaged 3.35 Mbps. For peak hours, that’s not bad!
Therefore, if you’re looking for a reliable internet, Frontier Communications is a good option. They have both cable and fiber options.
The ISP entered into the fiber market a few years back. They’ve installed some fiber lines themselves, but they’ve also bought up existing lines from both Verizon and AT&T. This has worked out well for them as they’re able to stay competitive during peak hours.
One more thing; Frontier doesn’t have data caps on its plans!
As Frontier Communications engages with its customers to help them navigate technology, they’ll continue to expand as well.
In this technology-saturated world, it’ll be interesting to see how that type of help will play out. It’s one thing to claim to be helpful but being helpful is a different thing. If Frontier Communications is genuine in this endeavor, they could end up rebranding themselves entirely.
It’s still too early to tell.
But for those who want to go with Frontier Communications as their ISP, or to switch from another ISP, then check out the best.
Who knows, you could be joining a Fellowship and setting off on an epic adventure. Or you may just find an answer to a nagging technology question.
It will most likely be the latter. But the former would still be a lot of fun though.
RCN is one of the biggest Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the nation. This "small" ISP is regularly rated as one of the best ISPs available.
24 October, 2018 | Posted by: Kyle Weckerly
Category: Business, Cable, Entertainment, Internet Deals & Packages, News, Service Providers, TV | No Comments