Wi-Fi Product Watch, July 2009

By Wi-Fi Planet Staff

July 30, 2009

New 2TB Time Capsule ($499) from Apple; Verizon offers free Wi-Fi to some laptop users; free Wi-Fi for all at Barnes & Noble; two new powerhouse gaming notebooks with 802.11n; Palm Restores iTunes Sync in Slap to Apple; U.S. Airways to offer in-flight Wi-Fi; WiMAX comes to Vegas; magicJack to Introduce Femtocell Version; and more.

Apple today began shipping a 2TB (terabyte) version of its Time Capsule ($499) wireless backup system--double the storage capacity at the same price as its 1TB predecessor. The 1TB version will now sell for $299.

The Time Capsule combines an 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi router and a server-grade hard drive to enable autobackup for systems on the WLAN using Time Machine, Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard's" automatic backup software.

Time Capsule supports all 802.11n-draft Wi-Fi CERTIFIED devices and is also compatible with other Macs or PCs (or mobile devices, such as iPhone or iPod touch) using other Wi-Fi standards, such as 802.11 b or g.

The AirPort Extreme Utility app also allows for protection of your primary Wi-Fi network by enabling quick and easy set up of a separate WLAN for guests, with or without password protection.

More details from Apple here.

July 28, 2009

Verizon announced Monday that it will expand Internet connection capabilities for millions of Verizon broadband customers by providing them free access to thousands of U.S. Wi-Fi hotspots.

"Wherever they go--across town or across the country--Internet users today want the freedom and flexibility of staying connected online whenever they want," said Mike Ritter, chief marketing officer for Verizon Telecom in a press release Monday. "In addition to providing in-home broadband networks and the nation's most reliable 3G wireless network, we're now offering even more connections with fast, free Wi-Fi that customers can use in their local communities and when traveling across the country."

There are some limitations to the offering, however, which industry watcher, Glenn Fleishman of Wi-Fi Net News has some thoughts on.

"Only laptop Windows XP/Vista (32-bit only) users need apply. Which seems insane to me, but it's also in line with Verizon's remarkable micro-management of its users and usage. The 'how to get it' page explaining how to obtain free Wi-Fi notes, "Verizon Wi-Fi is not available for PDAs, phones, desktop PCs, or Macs.'" Read the full blog post here.

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Barnes & Noble booksellers today announced the availability of free Wi-Fi at its stores nationwide courtesy of an agreement with AT&T

Among the many uses of the free Wi-Fi, Barnes & Noble shoppers can now download and preview over 700,000 eBook titles and hundreds of thousands of public domain titles (available from Google). 

“Barnes & Noble pioneered the concept of retail stores as community centers,” said Steve Riggio, CEO of Barnes & Noble in a press release today. “By providing no-fee Wi-Fi access, we are not only meeting our customers’ needs, but extending the sense of community that has always been in our stores.” 

The bookseller also offers free downloadable apps, including the Barnes & Noble eReader app for the Barnes & Noble eBookstore, which enables eBook reading on iPhone and iPod touch, BlackBerry smartphones,  as well as laptops and desktops (both PCs and Macs); and the Barnes & Noble Bookstore app for iPhone and iPod touch, which allows users to do some cool and handy things, such as use the iPhone’s camera to snap a photo of a front cover and then retrieve product details, editorial reviews, and customer ratings, or find and reserve a copy in the nearest store.

Wi-Fi has been available (courtesy of AT&T) since 2005 at B&N, but now, anybody in a Barnes & Noble store anywhere in the country will have complimentary and unlimited access to the network.

“We are pleased to expand our relationship with Barnes & Noble as we work together to enhance and deepen customers’ overall experience within the retail stores,” said Ron Spears, CEO, AT&T Business Solutions in today's release. “We currently offer the majority of our AT&T customers Wi-Fi access throughout our more than 20,000 U.S. hotspot footprint, including Barnes & Noble, with their qualifying AT&T services. Now, we’re excited to be able to offer every Barnes & Noble customer the same great Wi-Fi experience at no extra charge whenever they enter a retail store.” 

(We wonder if any AT&T customers are ticked that, basically, they are now paying for something everyone else gets for free...?)

Barnes & Noble says it will also soon be offering customers the opportunity to opt-in to receive personalized messages from Barnes & Noble via Wi-Fi when they walk in the door—things such as coupons, details on book signings or where to find a new release in their favorite genre. Sort of like the spritzer girl, only...deletable and odor-free.

July 24, 2009

AVADirect.com, a custom computer manufacturer, announced today that it is now selling what it calls "the world's most powerful gaming notebook," the Clevo M980NU.

The powerhouse system comes with built-in 10/100/1000MB Base-TX Ethernet LAN, Intel Wi-Fi Link 5300AGN 802.11a/b/g/n wireless LAN, and BluetoothTM V2.1.

The opposite of a netbook, this portable PC with an 18.4" HD screen starts at $2,493.85. More details at www.avadirect.com.

But, wait! Also this week, MAINGEAR, purveyor of "high-performance luxury computers" said it had unveiled "the World’s Most Powerful Gaming Notebook," the eX-L 18 ($2,999 and up).

“MainGear has equipped the eX-L 18 with the world’s fastest notebook graphics solution,” said Rene Hass, General Manager of the notebook business unit at NVIDIA in a press release Thursday. “With NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280M GPUs, MainGear’s customers will experience breathtaking in gaming physics from titles, such as Terminator Salvation or Darkest of Days and are ready for GPU computing applications such as Badaboom, vReveal, and Arcsoft SimHD.”

The eX-L 18 also ships with integrated Intel Wi-Fi Link 5300 a/b/g/Draft-N and Bluetooth 2.1. Full specs here.

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Palm pushed back in its ongoing scuffle with Apple, re-enabling the Palm Pre's ability to sync with iTunes with an update to its webOS software.

Version 1.1 of webOS, the company's mobile operating system powering the Palm Pre, restores the iTunes synchronization feature that Apple blocked with its own recent iTunes software update.

Palm boasts several enhancements in the new version of webOS, released today, like improved messaging, e-mail, calendar and calling functionality, along with YouTube updates and inclusion of a "remote wipe" to enable deletion of key data in the event of a lost phone.

But its most notable component pertains to the feature that reestablishes the Pre's iPod-like connection with iTunes. In the release notes, Palm said the upgrade "resolves an issue preventing media sync from working with [the] latest version of iTunes (8.2.1)." Click here for the rest of the story from InternetNews.com.

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U.S. Airways is joining the ranks of carriers offering Wi-Fi inflight to its customers. The airline announced Thursday that it is partnering with Aircell to provide Gogo Inflight Internet service starting early next year. Full Wi-Fi Internet access including Web, Instant Messaging, e-mail, and VPN access will be available for purchase to passengers with laptops, smartphones, and other Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Gogo will be not be installed fleetwide. As is the case with most carriers, only certain aircraft on certain routes will offer Wi-Fi. In the case of US Airways, A321 aircraft, flying select domestic routes will get the wireless boost. A map detailing the Wi-Fi routes is here. 

Coming next year, a handy feature that will enable potential fliers to see if Wi-Fi is available on a specific flight by looking for a Wi-Fi icon while booking their flight on usairways.com.

Final pricing was not announced, but travelers it should range from $5.95 to $12.95, depending on the length of flight and type of Wi-Fi enabled device used. 

"Gogo is for anyone who wants to make plane time their time," said Jack Blumenstein, president and chief executive officer of Aircell. "Whether you want to stay connected to the office, your family or friends; whether you want to work, play, or learn; Gogo is for you. We look forward to working with US Airways to bring the world to its passengers."

For more on in-flight Wi-Fi, read:

July 21, 2009

WiMAX provider, Clearwire Communications, today announced that its service offering in Las Vegas, NV has gone live.

Branded as "CLEAR," the wireless mobile broadband service is now available to approximately 1.7 million Las Vegas residents across 638 square miles, according to a Clearwire press release issued today.

"While it's true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, now, thanks to CLEAR, that doesn't mean it has to stay in one place," quipped Jeremy Abler, General Manager of Las Vegas market for Clearwire in the release. "CLEAR will bring to Las Vegas residents the super-fast mobile Internet experience they're used to having at home or the office, anywhere around town or on the go. We're providing a valuable, new category of Internet service designed to make people's lives more enjoyable and more productive, wherever they happen to be in our coverage area."

Clearwire also announced that starting August 1, it will offer a new client device, the Clear 4G+ mobile USB, a dual-mode 4G/3G modem that uses Sprint's 3G network to enable subscribers to get wireless broadband via 3G when out of WiMAX service range. (Sprint is one of Clearwire's "strategic investors.")

Mac owners will finally be welcomed into the fold, as well, when on August 17, the Clear Connection Manager software for Mac becomes available. The software is compatible with existing Clear USB 4G WiMAX-only modems and will be available for download from clear.com. Clearwire expects dual-mode Clear 4G+ mobile USB service to be available for Mac in 4Q09.

Pricing and other details are available at the Clearwire Web site. 

For more on Clearwire, read:

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At a predicted $49.95 price point, the magicJack femtocell version could be a gamechanger in the wireless VoIP market. Read the full story here.

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Ruckus Wireless today announced two new 802.11n outdoor access points targeted at creating reliable hotzones for MDUs, campuses, or for carrier offload of data to Wi-Fi from 3G GSM networks. Read more here.

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According to a new study from ABI Research, all you’ll want for Christmas this year is a Wi-Fi-enabled television. Read the full story here.

July 20, 2009

AT&T is expanding its netbook lineup. The new mobile broadband-enabled ultraportables ($199.99 each after rebate with AT&T DataConnect plan two-year contract) will be available in stores and online this week and include: Acer Aspire One; Dell Inspiron Mini 10; and Lenovo S10.

All of the netbooks feature 10-inch screens and weigh less than three pounds. Customers opting for the promotional pricing and its contract obligations will receive, along with their metered 3G data plans, with unlimited use of AT&T Wi-Fi service, at more than 20,000 hot spots nationwide.

AT&T will also offer its new ConnecTech services to its netbook customers at its more retail stores. Prices start at $99 for remote online support to $199 for in-home technical support.

"Lightweight and connected, netbooks continue to interest consumers and small business customers," said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets in a press release today. "We expect that, paired with AT&T home broadband, Wi-Fi, and the nation's fastest 3G mobile broadband network, they'll have great appeal to busy, on-the-go consumers and working professionals. We're offering the latest and greatest connected devices."

July 16, 2009

FON introduced its new Fonera 2.0n Wi-Fi router in the US market this week. The new 802.11n version features more powerful processors, as well as a built-in USB hub and Fonera 2.0 management software that allows users to connect external hard drives and other USB devices to their routers for wirelessly sharing of videos or photos. It also includes the ability to backup files to a hard drive, print, or access a remote Webcam via Wi-Fi, and convert an HSDPA or 3G dongle to Wi-Fi

"If there's one annoying aspect of the otherwise great Internet, it's the time it takes to upload videos, pictures, or download movies, TV series, games, and software from the Internet," said Martin Varsavsky, FON CEO in a press release Tuesday. "The Fonera 2.0n is the first Wi-Fi router that frees up your computer from those tasks. Close your computer, continue uploading and downloading!"

Our requests for a review unit in recent weeks have gone without response, but we'll keep trying. In the meantime, if you've tried the Fonera 2.0n, we'd love to hear your thoughts in the Comments field below.

**

What could be cooler than a wearable sniffer? Just about anything, we'd guess, but just in case you're jonesing for some more Wi-Fi apparel, ThinkGeek can hook you up with its Wi-Fi Detector Cap.

If you're married or have given up altogether on meeting a mate, the $14.99 cap, which complements ThinkGeek's Wi-Fi Detector Shirt nicely, says it "combines apparel and technology into an irresistible geeky hybrid. The glowing bars on the cap light-up to indicate the 802.11b/g Wi-Fi strength in your general vicinity..."--we assume 802.11n networks can be detected, as well. ThinkGeek also promises that "with your newfound Wi-Fi sense you'll be sure to make lots of friends." This may actually be true, since they'll be able to see the results of your cap-based sniffer whereas you...won't. Unless you also sport one of those cool cycling helmet-based rearview mirror attachments.

If anyone tries this thing, we'd love to hear your results. Post to our Comments section below, or drop us an e-mail by clicking the byline above.

July 14, 2009

InternetNews.com reporter, Michelle Megna, reports in her Megnabytes blog: "Sprint is already planning to release a Wi-Fi-enabled update to the BlackBerry Tour, in a move that mirrors the carrier’s strategy shift toward requiring Wi-Fi for all its devices, according to reports."

While we haven't received independent confirmation of the plan, in an interview with online wireless news source, FierceWireless, Jeff Clemow, Sprint's director of business product marketing, said “It is now a requirement for all our PDA equipment suppliers to include Wi-Fi. Several quarters ago we made a conscious decision to require all of our PDA suppliers to support Wi-Fi.”

Bravo, we say.

The BlackBerry Tour went on sale Sunday at Sprint (and Verizon) for $199.99, and supports both CDMA and GSM networks. Maker, RIM, officially announced the non-Wi-Fi Tour several weeks ago, but chatter from reviewers, analysts, and potential customers panned the release of yet another BlackBerry lacking Wi-Fi.

Sprint, apparently, was listening. It went ahead with the release of the non-Wi-Fi version, but will reportedly offer an updated Tour sporting Wi-Fi next year. Clemow told Fierce Wireless that the carrier has not set a specific date for its suppliers for the inclusion of Wi-Fi.

Meanwhile, RIM is remaining tight-lipped about the specs of its so-called Storm 2 (expected this fall from Verizon), but industry watchers believe it will have integrated Wi-Fi.

Also just out from T-Mobile and AT&T is the new Wi-Fi-enabled BlackBerry Curve 8900.

July 13, 2009

When a big company feels inclined to mess with a classic, it had better get it right—just ask Coca-Cola. Lenovo has introduced a new version of its iconic T-series, the best-selling business laptop series ever and the progenitor of the “thin-and-light” portable category.

The result: The ThinkPad T400s is everything fans have loved about the T-series, in a slimmer, lighter package. If you carry your laptop frequently but prefer a larger screen and keyboard than an ultra-portable-class notebook delivers, the T400s may be for you. Read the full review here.

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Recession-battered small businesses looking for an edge can now find one--even if only a small one--in Skype, the low-or-no-cost voice-over-Internet service that until now has mainly been of interest to consumers.

Skype, launched in Europe in 2003 but acquired three years ago by eBay, offers free voice and video calling between Internet-connected computers running the Skype software and equipped with microphone and speakers or a plug-in telephone headset.

The Skype software is also an instant messaging (IM) client similar to Microsoft Windows Live or Yahoo Messenger, delivering presence information--showing which of your contacts is online and available.

We take a look at the pros and cons of switching to VoIP solution, Skype, for business here.

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Aerohive's QoS booster stops slow Wi-Fi clients from hogging more than their fair share of the air. Read our review here.

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All netbooks come with Wi-Fi, but not all Wi-Fi is created equal. We give you the lay of the wireless land on the most popular brands of netbooks. Read the full story here.

July 10, 2009

Cisco's new Linux-powered router, the Linksys by CiscoWireless-N Broadband Router with Storage Link (WRT160NL; $119.99) is now available.

The new 802.11n draft 2 Wi-Fi router is essentially the next generation of the popular WRT54GL. Features include two integrated R-SMA antenna connectors and integrated Storage Link functionality, which enables users to connect their USB storage devices to the router to share video, photos, or music through the integrated UPnP AV media server.

The open source Linux-powered 802.11n draft 2.0-certified router runs on a 400Mhz processor, has 8 MB of Flash memory and 32 MB of DDRAM, and Wi-Fi protected Setup pushbutton security.

"In the past we have had many successful Linux-powered devices with the WRT54GL and NSLU2 being great examples. The WRT160NL is the logical next step combining Linux, 802.11n technology and USB storage functionality. We see the WRT160NL as a possible successor of our WRT54GL as the market transitions to 802.11n--but then with storage functionality on top of that," said Aaron Marinari, senior product manager, Cisco Consumer Business Group in a press release June 23rd.

Related stories:


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Lenovo has introduced a new ThinkPad, the T400s laptop, which features not only Wi-Fi, but optional WiMAX, WWAN, Bluetooth, and ultrawideband (UWB) connectivity.

Designed for business users, the T400s is ultraportable measuring 0.83 inches thin and weighing under four pounds, including the six cell battery. Lenovo says the laptop achieves its slim frame "thanks to the thin 14.1-inch LED screen, solid state drive storage, and the second generation Top Cover Roll Cage, which Lenovo first introduced in the ThinkPad X300 laptop."

The roll cage is made from monocoque carbon reinforced fiber, which is used in bicycle frames and airplanes; it helps keep the laptop light, yet surprisingly sturdy. Lenovo says the T400s weighs nearly 20 percent less than its predecessor, the ThinkPad T400.

Other features include:

-- Choice of Intel 2.53 GHz Core2Duo processors (standard voltage) and graphics

-- Choice of solid state drive storage up to 128 GB or 250 GB hard drive storage

-- 9.5 mm slim DVD burner or Blu-Ray player

**

Verizon has a new Wi-Fi-enabled smartphone, the HTC Ozone ($49.99 after rebate with contract). It features a full QWERTY keyboard, global roaming capabilities, and a battery designed for longer life. The Ozone is available now for purchase online and will be in Verizon Wireless brick-and-mortar outlets on July 13th.

July 9, 2009

Wireless networking solutions provider, TerraWave Solutions, announced recently the availability of its 802.11n Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) Mini "Six-Pack" omnidirectional antenna solution.

"Last year, we announced our industry-first 802.11n Dual Band 2.4/5 GHz 2.5/4 dBi Ceiling Mount MIMO Omnidirectional Antenna (the 'Six-Pack')," said TerraWave Solutions Product Development Manager Chris Marco in a press release June 30th. "It has been our focus over this last year to develop an even more robust line of antenna and enclosure solutions to complement many manufacturers' 802.11n AP technologies. Our product line is continuing to grow, and our customers are continually returning to TerraWave to help them deploy MIMO technology in new and exciting applications. By engineering complete suites of premium MIMO solutions, our customers can depend on TerraWave's reputation of delivering cutting-edge, high-quality products for their unique and customized wireless deployments. Our forward-thinking business strategy, reliability and valued relationships with our customers remain our highest priorities." 

More on TerraWave here.

July 8, 2009

At SHARKFEST '09 last month, a new version of Wireshark, the free packet sniffer, was released. New features include a 64-bit Windows (x64) installer and support for IP packet comparison. More details here.

July 7, 2009

MetaGeek today announced the availability of its new USB-based Wi-Fi spectrum analyzer, the Wi-Spy 900x ($199). The latest addition to its line of Wi-Spy tools, MetaGeek says the 900x is the world's first USB-based 900 MHz spectrum analyzer.

"Over the years we've fielded many, many requests to bring the ease-of-use and power of Wi-Spy to the heavily overcrowded 900 MHz band," said MetaGeek's Chief Geek, Ryan Woodings in a press release today. "IT professionals across various fields ranging from logistics to manufacturing to warehousing to procurement need a tool that can help them optimize their 900 MHz networks in order to save time and money. And that's exactly what Wi-Spy 900x will help them achieve."

The Wi-Spy 900x tracks all radio activity from devices operating in the 900 MHz ISM band, including RFID tags, cordless phones, sensor networks, and automation devices. Integrating with Wi-Spy 900x, MetaGeek's Chanalyzer 3.3 software can graphically display which channels to use and which ones to avoid by obtaining real-time radio data, recording for future analysis and by identifying interfering devices.

More more on MetaGeek and Wi-Spy, read:

Originally published on .

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