Wi-Fi Product Watch, February 2009

By Wi-Fi Planet Staff

February 24, 2009

Linux mobile tools for business users; new mobile VoIP offerings; free, open source network security apps; Elektron 2.0 RADIUS Server, easy to configure and use; Sirius Stiletto 2 ($329.99) offers the complete satellite radio package--plus Wi-Fi; new Nintendo DSi slated for April; new Kindles are coming--still no Wi-Fi; and more.

It seems like everywhere you turn these days someone has one of those cute little netbooks under their arm or taking up a tiny corner of the table at Starbucks. Chances are pretty good you'll find a Linux operating system on a least a fair share of those netbooks as well. The real question for every prospective buyer without one currently in their possession has to be "but will it do everything I need it to do?" It all depends on what you want to do.

For the mobile business traveler there exists a fairly fixed set of things falling into the "got to have" category when it comes to a computer. E-mail is, without question, at or near the top of the list for some, but may be less important for BlackBerry or iPhone owners. Web surfing and simple document viewing / editing would be a task better done on a reasonably-sized screen. Learn more here.

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IP telephony over cell phones—and other mobile devices—has been catching on for some time now, giving users the convenience of placing and receiving long distance and international calls at a fraction of the expense of cellular termination rates.

Last week, two leading players in the VoIP over mobile realm—UK-based Truphone and Silicon Valley-based JAJAH—both announced programs that promise to greatly expand the reach of their cost-cutting services. Learn more here.

February 18, 2009

While it would be nice to snap your fingers and have security issues simply vanish, we all know that you won't get out of it so easily. Countless hours searching for the culprit; probing for vulnerabilities ahead of time; and taking measures to isolate and patch any issues is certainly tedious but, with the right tools, it can be a whole lot less painful. Click here for more on two free, open source apps that can help.

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The Elektron 2.0 RADIUS Server is easy to configure and use. Although a few advanced features are lacking, most small or even midsized businesses will be pleased with Elektron's ability ro form an exceptionally secure Wi-Fi network. Read our review here.

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If you're considering purchasing a satellite radio or want to upgrade your current satellite device, the Stiletto 2 ($329.99, plus a monthly subscription fee) from Sirius XM Radio is an amazing music player. Introduced in late 2007, the Stiletto 2 is Sirius XM's most current Wi-Fi-enabled device and easily outperforms its predecessor, the Stiletto 100. You can listen to programming live from Sirius' satellite or terrestrial network, streamed via the Internet over a Wi-Fi connection, or recorded from live broadcasts. The device is also an MP3 player so you can access your own personal digital music collection.

Read our review here.

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Video gaming pioneer Nintendo--a sentimental favorite of any 1980s adolescent--is releasing its latest Nintendo DS portable video game system in April. The company announced today that the Nintendo DSi ($169.99) will launch in the United States on April 5, 2009.

The Wi-Fi-enabled DSi will come in blue and black, and will feature Nintendo DSi Camera, Nintendo DSi Sound, and Nintendo DSi Shop built right in.

The Nintendo DSi Camera is designed to enhance interactivity through digital imagery. One camera is built into the external body while a second one points at the user when the device is flipped open. Ten different "interactive lenses” can manipulate users' photos. Stay tuned for a review.

February 9, 2009

Amazon is now accepting pre-orders for the Kindle 2 ($359), its popular wireless e-book reader, which ships February 24th.

Sadly, the device, which reportedly offers some significant design improvements over its predecessor, still lacks Wi-Fi.

Kindle users must rely exclusively on Sprint's 3G EVDO network (where available) and even slower Sprint data service elsewhere. Of course, this is leaps and bounds ahead of Kindle's nearest competitor, the Sony Reader, which offers no wireless connectivity at all and requires USB downloads of content.

In a recent poll from the Wi-Fi Alliance, conducted by Wakefield Research, more than half of the respondents said it's unlikely they would buy a device in the future that didn't offer Wi-Fi capability. 88 percent said that very soon every high-tech device they own will have Wi-Fi.

We'll keep our fingers crossed that with Kindle 3, Amazon will catch on and incorporate Wi-Fi.

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In the year-and-a-half since the launch of the iPhone, there have been numerous attempts to deliver a competing "iPhone killer" device. Some of these might even be successful. But for now, it seems the only thing that will beat the current iPhone may be its next-generation successor.

What that might be remains anyone's guess, but there have been hints along the way that have many Apple observers believing they know the answer.

First off, the question of whether Apple has a new phone in the works seems to have an obvious answer, with June or July as a logical target date for such a release: At that point, iPhone 1.0 users will begin coming off their two-year contracts with AT&T and be ready to renew. The timing also fits with the next Apple Worldwide Developer Conference slated for June. For more details, click here.

For more on iPhone, read "Boingo Makes Airwaves Friendlier for iPhone Travelers," "Review: iPhone 3G (AT&T)," and "Control Your Home with iPhone."

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A new Web site is aiming to make it easier for creators of online user-generated content (UGC) to market and make money from their work.

Designed to become a kind of clearinghouse for UGC creators and producers UserGenerated.com made its debut this week at the User Generated Content Conference & Expo. in San Jose, Calif. (The conference, which runs through Tuesday, is produced by MediaBistro and owned by Jupitermedia, parent company of Wi-FiPlanet.)

The launch is aimed at capitalizing on the growth of user-generated content that's led to the success of trends like blogging and podcasting and of sites like YouTube. UserGenerated.com will start off as an industry blog and directory, as well as a social network where producers of UGC can display information about themselves and the content they have produced. More details here.

February 6, 2009

Like every other technology, Wi-Fi is constantly evolving. You buy the latest-and-greatest networking gear, and in a few years (or sometimes months) it’s considered old and slow. The alphabet soup of wireless standards has expanded from a, b, and g to n—plus y for enterprises (and i...and r...). As a consumer, all you need to know is that with n, the signals are faster, stronger, and more secure.

While upgrading the brains of your networking gear—the firmware and drivers—provides many of these enhancements, you usually have to replace your equipment to take advantage of most new features and technologies. For instance, you must buy new hardware to take advantage of the emerging standard, 802.11n (in Draft 2 now), which offers increased range, faster data rates, and better performance.

TrendNet markets the 300Mbps Wireless Easy-N-Upgrader (TEW-637AP) as an easy way to upgrade your wireless network to the 802.11n standard, without having to throw out your existing gear. Read our full review here.

February 5, 2009

Samsung and T-Mobile today announced the upcoming launch of the new Memoir, a smartphone which creates a new class of cell phone: the camera phone. This device leads not with its voice or networking capabilities, but with its camera, an 8MP beauty, but sadly, with this device, Samsung has ignored the necessity (in our opinion) of Wi-Fi, thus leaving Memoir camera phone users to suffer through image uploads over T-Mobile's inferior 3G network, which is available only in "select markets." The other poor suckers will be stuck rockin' the 2G.

Bells and whistles that did get built in, include Bluetooth and Assisted GPS.

“This is the camera phone that will make people want to leave their digital camera at home,” said Bill Ogle, Chief Marketing Officer for Samsung Mobile in a statement today. “When you combine the Memoir’s imaging capabilities, customizable menus, and music player, not only is it a great phone, but the entertainment possibilities are unlimited.”

We think the entertainment possibilities are limited by the lack of Wi-Fi--especially for a T-Mobile phone--but, hey, that's just us.

If you're looking for a Samsung phone that does have Wi-Fi, there are four: Omnia SCH-i910; Saga SCH-i770; Epix SGH-i907; and Katalyst SGH-t739.

Read reviews of some other smartphones that have integrated Wi-Fi here:

Review: T-Mobile BlackBerry Pearl 8120 The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 from T-Mobile is one of the most Wi-Fi-friendly mobile phones currently available to consumers.

Review: T-Mobile Unlimited Hotspot Calling If you make most of your calls from home, or from an office with an open Wi-Fi connection, T-Mobile has introduced a service that will save you lots of counted talk time per month--and for not a lot of extra money.

Review: Palm Treo 800W This business-minded phone offers Wi-Fi and GPS to a grateful user base. While this model isn't the bold innovation that many are waiting for, it's strong enough to keep Palm competitive.

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Online collaboration is becoming as simple as we always wanted it to be, trickling down into the desktop applications we rely on daily, and Wi-Fi gives us the motivation--and the ability--to work from anywhere.

Witness iWork '09, the latest version of Apple's business suite. Along with new versions of the three included apps--Keynote, Pages, and Numbers--Apple has built-in one-click integration with its new collaboration service, iWork.com. The service's features are slender compared with other online collaboration tools, but using it couldn't be easier and there's huge potential for growth. Read more at our sister site, Intranet Journal.

February 4, 2009

Intranet Journal has a tradition of recognizing and honoring the best IT product vendors through its Product of the Year Awards. For the winners, these annual awards are a mark of distinction and symbol of achievement in a crowded, highly competitive marketplace. Final voting is now in progress, and the list of categories can be found here. Readers may vote in as many, or as few, categories as they feel are appropriate.

Winners will be announced on the Intranet Journal Web site later this month.

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Unlike its predecessors, the Wi-Spy DBx ($799) can uncover interference with both 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks. Read our review here.

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From a cost perspective, you get lots of bang for your buck with the Lenovo S10e ($379) netbook, which comes with 802.11b/g Wi-Fi built in. Read our review here.

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Some of the most promising small-biz products for 2009 include uber-mobile Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as the Palm Pre, the Dell Studio XPS 16, and the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds. We take a look here.



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