Archive for January 7, 2018

Belkin & Linksys Announce New Hardware & Software Ahead Of CES

Posted in Commentary with tags , on January 7, 2018 by itnerd

Belkin has a number of announcements in advance of CES this week.

For starters, it has announced that it is shipping the Wemo Bridge enabled with Apple HomeKit compatibility for the more than two million Wemo solutions on the market. With the HomeKit enabled Wemo Bridge, Wemo users can ask Siri on their iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch – “Siri, turn on Wemo” or “Siri, dim the living room lights,” or use the Apple Home app to control any of these devices. Users can also include Wemo products into scenes and rooms to work with more than one hundred other HomeKit compatible products and access them while on the go.

Wemo Bridge for HomeKit Hero.jpg

The Wemo Bridge empowers users do all the activities Wemo users enjoy on the Wemo app but also extends the Wemo functionality on the Apple Home App via the iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.

  • Control Wemo Dimmer, Mini, Light Switch, Insight, and Motion Sensor from the Wemo App, Apple Home app or with Siri from your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch
  • Create personalized scenarios such as movie lighting or schedule appliances for a morning routine
  • Set Schedules and Timers for lights and devices, and control it all by accessing the Wemo App or the Apple Home app
  • Sync lights with sunrise and sunset or personal schedules
  • Set up vacation mode to protect your home by randomly turning on and off lights.
  • So much more!

The Wemo Bridge connects to any home Wi-Fi router via an Ethernet cable, leveraging the Wi-Fi of the home router to communicate between HomeKit enabled devices such as the Apple iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch and well as Wemo smart plugs and light switches.

Availability and Pricing
The Wemo Bridge is planned for availability later this month in Apple Stores, and other select retailers for an MSRP of $49.99 CAD.

Next up is the news that Linksys is expanding its Velop, whole home mesh Wi-Fi line to include a Dual-Band offering and new software advancements that enhance performance with Intelligent Mesh technology, security features with advanced parental controls, network traffic monitoring, and web site blocking as well as ease of use with improvements in the Linksys app. Velop is now the most flexible whole home mesh Wi-Fi system on the market. It can be installed in different configurations to support any type of home, is compatible with any ISP modem or gateway, and both Dual-Band and Tri-Band nodes are 100% interoperable and interchangeable.

Linksys Velop Dual Band Hero 3-pack.jpg

Linksys Velop Dual-Band Whole Home Wi-Fi Mesh System

Linksys is expanding its Velop product line to include a Dual-Band modular Wi-Fi system, the world’s first mass-market Flexible Wi-Fi System, (available in 1-pack, 2-pack and 3-pack options) that can be installed in various mesh configurations providing fast and reliable Wi-Fi to the edge of a home network. Velop Dual-Band nodes are designed for performance as well as elegance; they stand about two inches shorter than the Velop Tri-Band solution and small enough to be placed anywhere with a clean and attractive look that appeals to everyone – which is unique to the mesh category of solutions for the home. Each Velop “node” is a powerful Dual-Band AC1300 device that serves as router, range extender, access point, and bridge which provides users the future proof technology they need as they bring new and more devices into the home.

Each node is configured during setup by the accompanying Linksys app (available for iOS and Android), which provides the industry’s simplest and most intuitive setup leveraging Bluetooth to securely communicate between the mobile device and each node. After setup is complete, the Linksys app serves as a powerful Wi-Fi management tool with useful features, such as guest access, parental controls, device prioritization, and insights that help Velop users get maximum performance and utility from their network. Velop helps users get the most out of their broadband subscription by delivering 100% of their speed to the edge of their network.

The Most Complete and Flexible Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi Solution on the Market

Velop is a union of high performing hardware, intelligent software, simple to use App, and cloud service features. This combination provides users with a solution that will future proof their home network for years to come.

Key highlights include:

  • Powerful Dual-Band – Each Velop node is a Dual-Band AC 2×2 802.11ac Wave 2 with MU-MIMO radio configuration with combined speed up to 1300 Mbps.
  • True Modular Mesh Design – Each node is built to connect with each other over Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet or combination of the two for best performance. They auto configure to connect in multiple different mesh topologies.
  • Intelligent Mesh Technology – The Velop system adapts to a user’s Wi-Fi needs. It self-heals and optimizes to consistently deliver fast, flawless Wi-Fi everywhere in home.
  • Velop Dual-Band and Tri-Band are interoperable – Velop is the most flexible wi-fi system which users can simply select a Velop system based on size of their home, internet connection or smart home readiness. Velop users can use both the Tri-Band and Dual-Band versions on the same network. Adding a Dual-Band node to an existing Tri-Band mesh network is an affordable way to extend coverage. Introducing a Tri-Band node to a Dual-Band mesh network will unlock future-proofed smart home capabilities and improve performance.
  • App-Led Setup – The new Linksys app automatically identifies the nodes to be setup using Bluetooth and creates a secure connection between the mobile device and each node. The app guides users through the installation process using visual animations where needed to clearly explain each step, including the transition from current networking hardware.
  • Patented-Pending Spot Finder Technology – The placement of each node is critical to establish a reliable connection. During setup, Velop will recommend the best placement to reduce latency, maximize throughput and improve range and signal strength.
  • Velop works with Amazon Alexa – Velop includes custom Amazon Alexa “skills” that can turn the guest network on/off and read back the credentials of both the main and guest networks
  • Automatic Updates – Velop is connected to the Linksys cloud service and will automatically monitor for updates and apply new firmware that unlock new features, resolution to security vulnerabilities, and improved performance as they become available. Some Whole Home Wi-Fi systems require manual firmware updates making them vulnerable to security infringements. Users have the option to turn automatic updates off. Also, frequent updates to the Linksys app ensure that the Velop experience will continue to get better over time.
  • Superior Warranty and Support – Velop comes with 3-years warranty and support

Intelligent Mesh and New Software Features Rolling Out To All Velop Users

Linksys is introducing Intelligent Mesh™, an evolution in Home Wi-Fi engineering, that combines Linksys software and hardware to deliver Wi-Fi via the fastest path to the internet for the best experience possible. Intelligent Mesh helps provide better speed at distances, improved client handling between nodes, and dynamic improvements to back-haul to always ensure the best connection to the Internet. Velop Intelligent Mesh is organized into these 4 pillars and works seamlessly and automatically across both Velop Dual-Band an Tri-Band nodes:

  1. Self-Organize: The Velop system is a modular mesh system that support both Wi-Fi and wired back-haul, configures in AP/Bridge mode, works with any ISP modem or gateway and interoperates seamlessly across Dual-Band and Tri-Band nodes.
  2. Self-Optimize: The Velop system continuously calculates the signal strength and speed between nodes to help deliver the best internet connection to your devices. For Example, Velop uses patent pending Spot Finder technology during setup to automatically configure the mesh network optimizing both Wi-Fi channels and bands to provide best performance to each client device
  3. Self-Healing: The Velop system will reconfigure itself if a node goes offline so that the network continues to perform. Also, the Linksys app includes the Channel Finder feature to initiate a new channel scan to avoid interference or crowded wireless signals.
  4. One Network: The Velop system uses one network name, one password, one admin password for a consistent and secure mesh network of multiple nodes. Velop’s guest network will extend to all nodes and changing passwords to stay secure only requires a single update in the Linksys app or web interface.

Linksys is announcing new software features planned for automatic update in 2018:

Linksys is adding new software features in its Intelligent Mesh architecture to enhance the performance of Wi-Fi throughout the home as well as new parental control and security features thru in-app purchases that will add to the overall value of the system.

  • Client Steering by node: (Self-Optimize). Ensures device is connected to the closest node for optimal performance.
  • Backhaul Reconnect and Optimization (Self-Optimize, Self-Configure, Self-Healing). Nodes will reestablish best connection to the Internet in the event one of the nodes fails or joins the network.
  • Parental control improvements including website category content filtering with allow and block overrides
  • Automatic network traffic security monitoring for malware, phishing, and blocking of malicious web sites

Pricing and Availability:

The Linksys Velop Dual-Band Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System (available in 1-pack, 2-pack and 3-pack) is planned to be available this spring at major retail and online stores across Canada. Pricing will be $169.99, $259.99 and $379.99 CAD, respectively.

The new software features will be released as they become available via firmware updates and Linksys app updates for all Velop models starting this spring.

Next, Linksys is announcing the WRT32X Gaming Router.

Linksys WRT32XB for XBox.png

The WRT32X takes Xbox gaming to extremes by identifying,prioritizing, and accelerating Xbox gaming online traffic above all activities. With the Killer Engine on, peak ping is reduced by up to 65% on Xbox One, delivering exceptional reaction times and an overall superior experience.

Key features include:

  • Dual-Band (2.4 GHz + 5 GHz): N600 + AC2600 Mbps. Killer Prioritization Engine: Engineered router that prioritizes Xbox gaming and all gaming traffic.
  • Customized Gaming Interface: Custom-built interface and firmware for gaming traffic control.
  • 1.8 GHz CPU: Dual-Core promotes simultaneous high-speed data processing.
  • Advanced Security: WPA2 encryption and SPI firewall help keep your network safely connected.
  • Pro-Grade Gigabit Ethernet Switch: Gigabit is 10X faster than Fast Ethernet.
  • 4 High-Performance Antennas: Engineered to enhance dual-band communication; four external, adjustable antennas ensure supreme Wi-Fi® signal strength.
  • eSATA, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 Ports: Share content viaan external storage device with ultra-fast data transfer speeds. USB 3.0 delivers enhanced performance over USB 2.0; eSATA delivers optimal data transfer speeds from external SATA drives and accommodates USB 2.0.

Pricing and Availability:

Availability for the WRT32X Gaming Router is planned February 2018 USA. MSRP $299 – other regions to be determined.

Linksys Gaming Software Enhancements to WRT32X

Linksys is adding “Killer” gaming prioritization for any device (computer, mobile phone or console) to the Linksys WRT32X. This means that users gaming on any device will get their gaming prioritized as #1 over all other traffic on the network providing for a better online gaming experience with less lag. We’ve done this by moving the Application level stream detection onboard the router which intelligently and autonomously recognizes the network traffic from devices coming into the router and prioritizes the traffic for a fully dynamic quality of service while gaming, streaming, and surfing – no matter what else is happening on the network. Also included are stylized improvements to the user interface to reflect the new Killer Prioritization Engine, as well as improved network traffic and speed test visualizations. The WRT32X will give gamers the advantage of faster frags and lower ping times! (Software Update is planned for Spring 2018)