Linksys WRT3200ACM Dual-Band Tri-Stream 160 Router Review – MBReviews

  • May 22, 2019


The Linksys WRT3200ACM is among the two most powerful wireless routers from the Linksys WRT series (along with the WRT32X) and a successor to one of the most popular AC1900 router, the WRT1900ACS. As the name suggests, the WRT3200ACM is an AC3200 device, but this may be misleading for some, because we are not dealing with a tri-band router (which means that there’s no additional 5GHz radio and the router features the usual dual-band radios), but instead Linksys implemented the Tri-Stream 160 technology, therefore making the WRT3200ACM the first router to support contiguous 160 MHz bandwidth channels in 5Ghz.

I already had a look at another router which also supports 160MHz bandwidth mode (the NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S R7800) but it is implemented in a 80 + 80 MHz setup.
I’m glad that Linksys wanted to go further with the technology development, but even in 2018, the devices that do support contiguous 160 MHz bandwidth channels are very difficult to find, so, this new feature will be useful only if you have at least two devices of the same kind (two Linksys WRT3200ACM or WRT32X) linked in bridge mode (I did get fantastic results with the Asus PCE-AC88 as well). While the usual client won’t be able to take advantage of any of the main selling points of the WRT3200ACM, this router will help improve some networks, so let’s see if it’s worth upgrading over the WRT1900ACS and if it’s able to rise up to its newer competitors.

UPDATE 05.20.2019 A few days ago, it was disclosed that a significant number of Linksys routers are vulnerable to an info disclosure exploit so, considering that Linksys WRT3200ACM is a part of affected routers and Linksys hasn’t yet released any patch to fix the problem, the only way to be sure you’re protected is to install a custom firmware, such as OpenWRT. For this reason, I compiled this guide which should help you install OpenWRT (Project LEDE) on a Linksys WRT3200ACM router.

UPDATE 11.21.2018: I have been using the Linksys WRT3200ACM for the most part as the main router, so considering that almost four months have passed, I have retested the device in a new location (which is more difficult to cover with WiFi) and the results are consistent with what I got in July (comes at no surprise considering that Linksys hasn’t updated the router in a long time now). To give you some spoilers, I have not encountered any of the expected problems on the 5GHz band and the LEDs so far are still bright enough.

UPDATE 07.22.2018: The Linksys WRT3200ACM has gone through multiple radical changes during its two years of existence, so, while at the beginning the router would function properly and had a fantastic wireless performance, sometimes last year, lots of users started complaining that the WRT3200ACM was having serious issues with the 5GHz radio (some have hinted that it may be a hardware problem and that the Marvell chip needed to be changed) and that the LED lights would become dim after a few months of normal use. Considering that the review I did a year and a half ago may not portray the current condition of the WRT3200ACM, I re-purchased it and retested the device to see if Linksys has managed to release a stable firmware which would at least solve the 5GHz radio instability.

Design

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A few years ago, Linksys made the decision to take inspiration from the design of the iconic Linksys WRT54G and create a soul successor which will take the Linksys legacy further. That’s how the WRT1900AC was born, a device which besides being one of the fastest AC1900 router on the market, it used a very unique case design which not only gathered the nostalgic fans, it also caught the attention of a new audience which was exasperated by the continuous release of the similar-looking black or white consumer-focused routers.

The designers from Linksys liked the new appearance so much that they decided to keep it for the entire series, making it pretty hard to tell the routers apart (except for the WRT1200AC, which has two antennas and the LINKSYS WRT32X AC3200 which is just completely black). I know that the design is the least important aspect in a router, but I find it a bit ridiculous that I can’t really tell apart the WRT1900ACS from the WRT3200ACM (it’s been almost two years, bring something new to the table!).

linksys

Despite borrowing the design of the WRT1900ACS, the WRT3200ACM looks a lot better than a lot of other routers on the market, the case being divided into two parts: the back side which is covered by a black matte finish and with lots of holes on top for a proper airflow and the blue front side, which is a bit glossy (but does not retain fingerprints). The dual-band removable antennas are positioned in the same manner, with two of them on the back side and the last two, each on one side of the router (since they’re reasonably small and close to the rear side, it won’t pose any inconvenience).

The footprint of the WRT3200ACM remains the same, with 9.68 x 7.63 x 2.04 inches and the weight is a bit lighter (28.16 oz), so it falls into the fairly large routers category (along with Asus RT-AC88U and Netgear Nighthawk R7800 X4S). By default, the WRT3200ACM can be positioned flat on a surface, but it can also be wall-mounted if you lack enough space to keep it properly ventilated (every feet has special holes to use for wall-mounting).

linksys

On the bottom side of the router, there are four rubber feet that are large enough to keep the device sturdy even if you connect all the ports and there are another two sections of numerous puncture holes that help keep the case well ventilated (and the WRT3200ACM definitely needs it since Linksys decided to remove the fail-safe fan on the early model of WRT1900AC). Also on the bottom, there’s a small label which contains various info about the device (such as the Serial Number, the MAC Address and the default SSID and password).

linksys

On the front of the device, on the black glossy plastic, there is a series of white LED lights (seven directly on the front and five slightly towards the right), which show the status of Power (if it blinks, it means that it is booting up or it’s in self-diagnostic mode), Internet (if it’s solid amber, it means that the connection is down because of some configuration issues and if the LED blinks an amber colour, then the connection is down because of hardware problems), the 2.4GHz and 5GHz band (if either of the two LEDs are blinking, then the router is receiving or sending data), eSata, USB 1, USB 2 (there are two indicators, on top of each other: the line and the dot indicates a USB 3.0 device has been connected and if the dot is turned off, then a USB 2.0 device has been connected), the four LAN Ethernet ports (every port has a primary T indicator and a secondary dot indicator: if the dot is turned off, then there is a device connected at 10/100Mbps, otherwise, the connection is at 1000Mbps) and for the WPS (if the LED is solid white for 5 seconds, then the connection has been successful, otherwise, if the LED blinks an amber colour, then the process has failed).

linksys-wrt3200acm

Source: FCC ID Image

UPDATE: A quick look inside the case has revealed that the port LEDs are big and will function properly for a long time, while the rest of the LED indicators are smaller and ‘forced’ to produce the same level of brightness, so this may be the reason why so many people have complained about the LEDs getting dimmer over time – after four months, the LED indicators are still as bright as the day I purchased the router, but this could still change in the future.

Flip the router around and you are greeted by lots of ports and buttons: from the left, there’s an antenna connector, a WPS button, four Gigabit (10/100/1000) Ethernet LAN ports, an Internet port, a USB 3.0 port, a combo USB 2.0 / eSATA port (it’s nice to see that Linksys didn’t put any USB ports on the front or lateral sides), a small red recessed button (press it for 10 seconds to reset the router to factory default settings), the Power port and another antenna connector.

linksys

Just like with any other model from the WRT series, the WRT3200ACM does not really have an elegant design and it may not feel at home in a living-room with classic furniture, but, the case is not ugly by any means and it will fit in on a desk along with a modern desktop PC.
Note: Inside the package, you can find the Linksys WRT3200ACM unit, a Quick Start Guide, a CD with documentation, an Ethernet cable, the Power adapter and the four antennas.

Hardware
On the inside, the Linksys WRT3200ACM is equipped with a dual-core 1.8GHz Marvel Armada 88F6820 ARMv7, Marvell 88E6352 switch, 512 MB of RAM (Micron DDR3) and 256 MB of flash memory (Spansion NAND). Furthermore, the 2.4GHz radio band uses the Marvell 88W8964 chipset, along with a Skyworks SKY85309-11 2.4GHz front-end module and the 5GHz radio band also uses the Marvell 88W8964 chipset, along with the Skyworks SKY85728-11 5 GHz front-end module.

linksys

The Linksys WRT3200ACM features a maximum theoretical data transfer rate of 600 Mbps using the 2.4GHz radio band and the maximum theoretical data transfer rate of 2600 Mbps using the 5GHz radio band (added to the advertised 3200 Mbps).
Note: The power consumption, while operational, is approximately 33 Watts.

Features and Performance
The Linksys WRT3200ACM is a 3×3 AC3200 class router, but, as said in the introduction, we are not dealing with a tri-band router and one of the main signs is because it uses the MU-MIMO technology (as expected the AC3200 line is commonly used by routers that feature the Broadcom’s XStream Tri-band technology, such as the TP-Link AC3200, D-Link DIR-890L and Asus AC3200).

linksys

The usual tri-band router features an additional 5GHz radio band, besides the common dual-band setup and it helps a lot with the network stability by balancing the load between the three radios, therefore increasing the throughput (not the link rate!). This means that a tri-band AC3200 router will work as an AC1900-class device, but will be able to handle a lot more wireless connected clients and ensure a better network stability.

The Marvell’s MU-MIMO technology is a totally different beast and the way it works is that instead of serving one client at a time (the usual SU-MIMO approach), multiple users can be served simultaneously. This means that every connected MU-MIMO client receives an individual data stream (thus removing any competitiveness for the bandwidth), allowing users to play online games or perform any video streaming at the same time, without experiencing any latency. This technology sounds fantastic and a must-have in every household, the only problem is that the market hasn’t really caught up with the velocity of the networking technology development (there are still lots of people and companies that consider the 802.11ac standard as something exotic – this statement remain true even in 2018, when we’re already entering the realm of the 802.11ax!).

linksys

So, the MU-MIMO technology isn’t a solution for the present and more likely for a possible future where MU-MIMO compatible wireless cards are something usual and wide-spread (although at this point in time, I’m not holding my breath).
The main selling point and the reason why Linksys WRT3200ACM has been developed is the Tri-Stream 160 feature. To get a better understanding about how this tech works, let’s take the usual three-stream AC1900 router (3×3), with each stream maxing out at 433 Mbps using the 80MHz bandwidth mode (therefore going to the maximum advertised rate of 1,300 Mbps for the 5GHz radio band). The Tri-Stream 160 technology uses pretty much the same concept, but instead of using the 80MHz bandwidth mode, you get three streams at 160Mhz channel width, therefore driving data at 867Mbps on each stream (adding up to the advertised 2,600 Mbps on the 5GHz radio band).

The Tri-Stream 160 sure sounds like a game-changer, but can the usual person actually use it with any of the currently present devices? Umm, no. The only device that supports this tech is another WRT3200ACM router (internal data streams will be fantastic using the bridge mode, without a doubt) and, since there aren’t many compatible wireless adapter on the market (smallnetbuilder.com says that the Intel Wireless-AC 9260 supports this feature), but if you use 1×1 or 2×2 wireless adapters, the WRT3200ACM will perform similarly to a higher end AC1900 router and nothing more. This is a sin that almost all router manufacturers are guilty of, inflating the box number as much as they can, while the usual person will be hypnotized into thinking that they’ll get the link rates from the box.

linksys

That being said, the WRT3200ACM is definitely future-proof, but I’m not really sure that this is the future of the networking world (Linksys thinks so and it has prepared way ahead of time) and my opinion is that a tri-band router (while definitely not being superior), has the advantage of not needing any special compatible wireless adapters, just ones which use the 5GHz radio band (furthermore, the tri-band approach has worked out great for the WiFi mesh systems (such as the Orbi, Eero 2nd Gen or the Velop) that needed a reliable way of handling the backhaul traffic).
UPDATE: As an update to my previous statement, the 802.11ax may prove me wrong and the 160MHz channel bandwidth is going to become the norm, therefore indeed making the WRT3200ACM one of the most future-proof wireless routers that I have tested.

The last feature that I want to mention from the Linksys WRT3200ACM is the Beamforming technology which has the role of optimizing the network performance by scanning the area, identifying the connected devices (wireless) and focusing the signal directly at them, instead of broadcasting it everywhere, hoping it will reach the connected clients.

linksys

In order to test the wireless performance of the Linksys WRT3200ACM, I took a laptop with a compatible wireless adapter and a desktop PC (also with a built-in compatible wireless adapter equipped with one of the most powerful wireless adapter on the consumer market, the Asus PCE-AC88) and I measured the speed performance at different locations inside a large house.
UPDATE: I have kept the initial test results to showcase the improvements that Linksys has made over the years and the new tests have been done after three days four months from the purchasing date (in a new location) and the router has been kept running continuously during this period in order to see when (and if) I will experience the same problems with the 5GHz radio band – the WRT3200ACM has been updated to the latest firmware, the v1.0.6.186168 (Linksys decided that their router series is perfect and no updates are needed anymore).

So, using the 2.4GHz radio band (and implicitly, the 802.11n standard – 20MHz bandwidth mode), from the client to the server at close range (5 feet), I measured an average of 231 Mbps 151 Mbps (it peaked at 156 Mbps). Afterwards, at 15 feet, the speed decreased to 144Mbps decreased to 164 Mbps and at 35 feet, I measured an average of 115 Mbps 70 Mbps. Even if the new location is not that WiFi-friendly as when I tested the device in July, I still got better results than a year and a half ago, so the WRT3200ACM is still doing good on the 2.4GHz band. From the server to the client, at no more than 5 feet away from the router, I managed to measure an average of 182 Mbps, while at 15 feet, the speed went down to 129 Mbps and at 35 feet, I measured an average of 81.3 Mbps.

linksys-wrt3200acm

Since I got an overall better wireless speed performance on the 2.4GHz band, I switched to the 5GHz radio band (the 802.11ac standard and the 80MHz bandwidth mode) and using the Asus PCE-AC88, I got the following results from the client to the server: 5 feet away from the router, I managed to measure an average of 811 Mbps (with the peak at 930 Mbps), while at 15 feet, the speed went down to 720 Mbps (a welcomed improvement over the 647 Mbps from the last time I tested the device) and lastly, at 30 feet, I measured an average of 534 Mbps (obviously, unless you use the best WiFi adapters on the market, you won’t see this type of performance).

From the server to the client, I got the following results: at close range (no more than 5 feet), I managed to measure an average of 235 Mbps, while at 15 feet, the speed decreased to 233 Mbps. Lastly, at 30 feet, I measured an average of 165 Mbps. As you can see, the speed performance on the 5GHz radio from the client to the server has remained pretty much consistent to what I measured the second time I tested the WRT3200ACM, but the server to client performance is really nothing to brag about and significantly below what the Asus RT-AC86U can deliver.

linksys-wrt3200acm

Because the router has a USB 3.0 port, I had to measure the storage performance and see how it stands against its predecessor, the WRT1900ACS. So, I took a 2.0 GB folder containing multimedia files (videos, music and books) and I measured a writing speed of 88.5MBps and a reading speed of 113.1MBps. This makes it one of the fastest router from the storage point of view available on the market right now.

Setup and Interface

linksys
The setup process of the WRT3200ACM is as simple as with any other modern wireless router: connect your PC to the wireless name and use the password shown on the label (from the bottom of the device) and open a web browser to launch the Linksys Smart Router Setup (if the wizard doesn’t launch instantaneously, go to linksyssmartwifi.com). The setup wizard will guide you through configuring the Wireless Settings (the SSIDs and the password for both radio bands), create a new router password (along with a hint) and create a Linksys Smart WiFi Account (which allows you to access your network remotely). By default, the connection type settings are done automatically, but you can also get the option to perform the manual configuration. After finishing the initial setup, you gain access to the UI to configure your router at a more in-depth level.

linksys-wrt3200acm

UPDATE: The second time I configured the WRT3200ACM, I used the Linksys mobile app (the same that is used to configure both the tri-band and the dual-band Velop systems) and the steps were pretty much the same as on the browser-based interface: selecting ‘A Linksys Router’ instead of ‘A Velop System’, connecting to the router’s WiFi network and waiting until the device gets detected by the app, installing the latest firmware update, setting up the two WiFi networks and that’s pretty much it – from here on, you’ll be able to freely roam the mobile and the browser-based interfaces.

The main page of the browser interface has a menu on the left with all the important sections with options, each showing a new window in the centre. On the right side, you get nine small windows which show the Status of the Network, the Linksys Home Networking shortcut, the WiFi Settings, the Guest Access, the status of the Parental Controls, the External Storage, the Media Prioritization status and the Network Map. The first section is the Smart WiFi Tools and has the following options: Network Map (a graphical representation of your network, including the Guest Network and the Internet Usage), Guest Access (allows you to create guest network names with passwords and you can choose the maximum number of guests allowed), Parental Controls (you can restrict access to specific devices, block the Internet access during specific times or always and block specific websites), Media Prioritization (drag and drop devices in the normal or high priority section and choose the Applications along with the Online Games for those sections), Speed Check and External Storage (Status, Folder Access, FTP Server and Media Server).

linksys

Directly underneath the Smart WiFi Tools, you can see the Router Settings: Connectivity (the Basic settings – Network Name and Password, Router Password, Firmware Update, Time Zone and Activity Lights; Internet Settings – IPv4 or IPv6 Connection Type, MAC Address Clone and MTU; Local Network – Router Details and DHCP Server; Advanced Routing – NAT, Dynamic Routing and Static Routing; VLAN – VLAN, Internet(Trunk) and Ethernet; Administration: Local Management Access, UPnP and Application Layer Gateway), Troubleshooting (Status, Diagnostics and Logs), WiFi Settings (Wireless settings, MAC Filtering, WiFi Protected Setup and Wireless Scheduler), Security (Firewall – Firewall, VPN Passthrough, Internet filters and IPv6 Port Services; DMZ; Apps and Gaming – DDNS, Single Port Forwarding, Port Range Forwarding and port Range Triggering) and OpenVPN Server. While the app was quick and intuitive, I noticed that the web-based interface was slow and I had some trouble finding some options (such as something as simple as finding where to upgrade the firmware – as a hint, it’s under Connectivity).

linksys

Besides the MU-MIMO and the Tri-Stream 160 feature, the third main selling point of the Linksys WRT3200ACM is the support for Open Source firmwares. Since the router is made with this type of compatibility, the OpenWRT or DD-WRT custom firmwares will be more stable than on the other routers, but there’s something I did not quite understand. While the WRT3200ACM is advertised as being Open-Source Ready, on their website it is written: “Installing 3rd party firmware is done at your own risk and replacing factory-installed firmware with open source firmware will void your warranty.” So, while Linksys encourages you to go for third party firmwares, it will not fix the product if something goes wrong.

UPDATE: The support for open-source firmware has been one reason why so many people decided to go with routers from the WRT series, but, unlike other manufacturers that have been generally well regarded by third-party developers (such as Asuswrt-Merlin for Asus routers), Linksys seriously lacks in this department. At this moment, I would not recommend using DDWRT with the WRT3200ACM (it brings almost nothing new in terms of features and it feels dated), but I did notice a lot of positive feedback from the LEDE project team, so, if you want to use a third-party firmware, I would go for OpenWRT.

Conclusion
I’m not really sure what to think about the Linksys WRT3200ACM because for me, it’s a mixed bag. On one hand, you get an above average wireless performance (and as an update, the router did really well in a more difficult location), a fantastic storage performance and a simple-to-use app interface (while the browser-based interface is very slow – this hasn’t changed). But, on the other hand, all of these new features lack any usability in the real world and the only people to take advantage of them would be those that actually purchase two of these units and use them in bridge mode lacked usability for a long time, but the emergence of the 802.11ax standard could reshape the market and make the WRT3200ACM a device way ahead of its time (although it can be too outdated by the time this happens).

Furthermore, the support for custom firmwares had the potential to make this router one of the fastest on the market, but so far it didn’t happen, so considering the great advances of the LEDE Project, I’ll also try to install it on my unit and retest it after some time has passed. Overall, in its current condition (and four days since I have it four months since I got it), the WRT3200ACM is still performing really well, so I’ll keep it for a while longer to see if Linksys managed to fix all of the issues and has made the WRT series great again and although I can’t speak for the large majority of the devices out there, the Linksys WRT3200ACM that I have used until now performed better than expected.
Note: As a side note, I had to reconnect one client a couple of times during this period of time, the Android devices would stay connected to the 5GHz network without problems and, as for Apple device, unfortunately, during the last four months I had none to test the connection.

Check for the latest price here:

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Linksys WRT3200ACM

Linksys WRT3200ACM

Pros

  • Good Wireless Performance
  • MU-MIMO Technology
  • Tri-Stream 160MHz
  • Easy-to-Use Interface
  • Support For Custom Firmware

Cons

  • Not Many 160MHz Compatible Clients Available
  • LEDs Can Dim Over Time
  • The Support From Third Party Developers Is Underwhelming

CAT S41 and S31 rugged smartphones

  • May 15, 2019

CAT S41 IP68 Rugged Smartphone

The S41 is CAT’s latest rugged smartphone release. Known for its advanced S60 smartphone with a thermal imaging camera, CAT appears to be positioning the S41 as its mainstream rugged model with a mid-range price. The S41, successor to the S40, does not have thermal imaging but does offer some major upgrades from the S40.

The screen size has increased to 5 inches with full 1080p HD resolution and Gorilla Glass 5 with wet-finger and glove-on support. Under the hood is is a MediaTek P20 octa-core 2.3GHz CPU with 3GB RAM and 32GB ROM running Android 7.0 Nougat. Cameras include a 13MP rear with LED flash and 8MP front. The battery is a hefty 5000 mAh and can be used to charged external devices with the USB adapter. A micro USB port is used for charging and there is also a headphone jack. As a rugged model the S41 is “beyond” IP68 certified, waterproof up to 2 meters for 1 hour and drop proof to 1.8 meters. It is also resistant to vibration and extreme temperatures, with an operating range from -25°C (-13°F) to 55°C (131°F). Other features include 802.11 b/g/n (2.4 & 5GHz) wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, FM radio, GPS, and microSD slot. The S41 measures 152 x 75 x 12.95 mm and weighs 218 grams. The S41 will be released in single and dual SIM configurations.

The CAT S41 has a list price of $449 USD.

CAT S41 Promotional Video:

CAT S41 Official Site

CAT is also releasing the S31, a more budget-oriented rugged smartphone. The S31 has a 4.7-inch 720p HD screen with Gorilla Glass 3 featuring wet-finger and glove-on support. The S31 is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8909 quad-core CPU with 2GB RAM and 16GB ROM. It is IP68 certified, waterproof to 1.2 meters up to 35 minutes, and drop proof to 1.8 meters. Battery size is 4000 mAh. Cameras are 8MP-rear with LED flash and 2MP-front. The S31 does not have NFC like the S41. The S31 measures 146 x 74.42 x 12.6 mm and weighs 200 grams. List price is $329 USD.

CAT S31 Promotional Video:

CAT S31 Official Site

Top Eight iPhone and iPad News Apps

  • May 8, 2019

If you enjoy reading the latest news, then you more than surely know just how fast the news can spread at times. This makes it difficult to stay ahead of the “curve” when it comes to the latest and most interesting topics. However, Apple fans don’t have to worry about that since they can access lots of premium news apps on iPhones and iPads that will keep them updated on everything that interests them.

Apple has recently announced that it is planning to launch a subscription service called Apple News+ which will provide subscribers with the world’s most trustworthy and reliable news publication. Although, picking the right ones to follow can be quite tricky since there are so many. This is why we have decided that for today we are going to present the top eight best news apps that iPhone and iPad users can follow in order to stay informed.

#1 Apple News

Apple News

We are going to start our list with the obvious choice, Apple News. The reason why we have picked Apple News to sit on the first spot is because this is a native iOS app that offers all types of coverage and a premium reading experience. What makes this app stand out from the rest is the fact that it features a “For You” section that is filled with the user’s favorite stories and topics. Therefore, making it easier for all iPhone and iPad users to learn everything that is going on in the world.

Download Apple News

#2 Pocket: Save Stories for Later

Pocket: Save Stories for Later

Pocket is an innovative news app for iPhones and iPads that makes it possible for users to collect stories that seem interesting and then save them in a special list in order to check them out later. To make things even better, saving stories for later with Pocket is fairly simple and the only thing that users need to do is to tap on the share button and then pick the “Pocket” option. In addition, Pocket offers a recommendation tab where users can find all their favorite stories and journalists.

Download Pocket: Save Stories for Later

#3 Google News

Google News

Even though Google News is renowned as being one of the best news apps that Android users can access, this doesn’t mean that the app is exclusive to them. Google News can also be downloaded on iOS powered devices and what this app does best is the fact that it collects news sources from all over the world and places them in the user’s newsfeed. Furthermore, Google News offers a cool feature called “Full Coverage” which provides additional details without Google’s curation system. Not just that, but there is also the option to save a story or download specification publications to read at a later date.

Download Google News

#4 Flipboard

Flipboard

Apple’s iOS operating system is renowned for offering a premium user experience, but what really makes it stand out is the millions of apps and mobile games that iOS users can download whenever they want. One of these apps is called Flipboard and it is known for being an established news app that provides users with a constant stream of all the latest headlines. Just like Apple News, Flipboard features a “For You” panel that iPhone and iPad users can customize to their liking.

Download Flipboard

#5 TL;DR

TL;DR

We know that some of you have busy lives and that you don’t have time to read all the news that might be interesting. Well, here is where TL;DR comes in and saves the day. For those who are unfamiliar with this acronym, TL;DR stands for “too long, didn’t read” and it automatically provides iPhone and iPad users with shortened versions of articles that they want to check out.

This is a really great app for iOS and it will definitely make it easier for all iPhone and iPad users to find out everything they need to know about the topics that interest them in record time. However, we do have to mention that there is a big downside to TL;DR. This app sometimes fails to provide detailed and accurate information since it’s restricted to a limited number of characters.

Download TL;DR

#6 Bloomberg

We think it’s safe to say that Bloomberg is one of the world’s most reputable business news outlets. Everyone who works in finances and wants to learn about all the latest reports in the business world should consider giving Bloomberg a try. Moreover, Bloomberg also provides users with great coverage on topics such as the stock market which can be quite helpful at times.

Not just that, but iPhone and iPad users who have their own investments can create a personal portfolio on the Bloomberg app and track all the latest news that include information about their personal portfolio.

Download Bloomberg

#7 CNN

CNN

When it comes to famous news publication, CNN is sitting in the top five. The folks who are in charge of CNN have also created an iOS app that will help iPhone and iPad users get access to all the latest headlines from the world’s biggest publishers. The cool thing about the CNN news app for iOS is the fact that it also provides video snippets, exclusive coverage and featured news. Furthermore, the app is equipped with a friendly and intuitive UI (user interface) which is easy to navigate and “scan” for all the latest news.

Download CNN

#8 Feedly

Feedly

Remember Google Reader? This used to be a really fun mode that made it easier on the eyes when reading news and unfortunately, the mode was removed. Luckily, here is where Feedly comes in and provides users with an alternative. Feedly is a reliable news app that offers Google Reader which means that users can select multiple publications, save articles for later viewing, sort them into topics and much more. Nonetheless, Feedly is a powerful news app and it can more keep iPhone and iPad users updated on everything that is going on in the world.

Download Feedly

The Best Rugged Smartphones of 2019 – MBReviews

  • May 1, 2019

kyocera-duraforce-pro-2

5. Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 is the latest handset from the Japanese manufacturer to join the rugged smartphones market as a successor to the DuraForce Pro in an effort to improve some key elements and make the device more suitable for the exigences of the 2019. But, despite people craving for an elegant, yet rugged smartphone, the manufacturers are still having a hard time to keep their devices slim and with the latest features, while also being resistant against drops or other mechanical shocks.

Samsung and Motorola have made some interesting advancements with their waterproof and dustproof Active and Force series, but it’s worth noting that Kyocera has also pushed its rugged smartphones towards a more modern design, so while the Kyocera Brigadier was already a better looking rugged smartphone than its competitors, the DuraForce Pro 2 got a bit closer to the more elegant non-rugged flagships. At the same time, it doesn’t differ that much from its predecessor even if it comes with a redesigned case and it still carries the signature look, has better internal hardware and the same iconic sapphire screen.

kyocera-duraforce-pro-2-rugged-smartphone

As expected, you won’t find the glass and metal combination (which is definitely attractive, but fragile) and instead, you get a mix of polycarbonate and thick rubber. The case has a curved back, soft rounded corners – it’s less curved than the DuraForce Pro 2, the lateral sides protruding towards both the bottom and the top sides. Furthermore, on the rear panel, there are four patches of texturized rubber that slide towards the screen and, on centre of the rear panel, the plastic is a lot smoother.

All around the case, you can find pretty much the same buttons and ports as on any other smartphone (yes, it has a headphone jack), with every port opening being covered by protective flaps and, unfortunately, Kyocera decided to get rid of the three front buttons for Back, Home and Recent and instead, it went with capacitive buttons – this hasn’t been the best decision because the physical buttons remained operational in every type of environment (as a bonus, there are front-facing speakers). The PTT/Programmable key has been kept from the DuraForce Pro (by default, it will activate Verizon’s push-to-talk service, if you use Verizon, but you can program it to either launch any app or to automatically send help texts and the GPS location in case you get lost or are in danger), as well as the Fingerprint Sensor on the Power key (this feature has now become a standard even on rugged phones).

kyocera-duraforce-pro-2

Because of the curved back, the phone fits comfortably inside the palm of the hand, but the increased size over the DuraForce Pro 2 will not go unnoticed, since it now measures 5.91 x 2.89 x 0.53 inches and it’s got a bit heavier (8.57 oz). The bigger size means more screen real-estate, but bigger smarphones are usually more fragile and more prone to breaking than any other smaller handsets (until better technologies are developed, I’m not sure rugged smartphones should go over 5 inches). Another interesting aspect is that I found it hard to fit the phone in my pocket because of its thickness (so keep that in mind before purchasing).

That being said, the main attraction of any phone is the display and Kyocera has equipped the DuraForce Pro 2 with a 5-inch IPS LCD display that features 16 million colours, a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels and a pixel density of 441ppi (so, nothing has changed in this department). Furthermore, you get the same Sapphire Shield protection, so the display becomes virtually unscratchable and it is a bit harder to break than the traditional screens (if it falls at a odd angle, the screen will shatter into pieces instead of cracking like the usual Corning Gorilla Glass protection).
Similarly to the DuraForce Pro 2, the display is greatly improved over the dim Kyocera Brigadier, so, even for a sapphire screen, you can clearly see everything even under direct sunlight.

kyocera-duraforce-pro-2

Still, you should not expect the vividness of AMOLEDs or the true colours of iPhones, but the DuraForce Pro 2 does a fair job on delivering a good visual experience, with images and text being crisp and clear, the colour accuracy is reasonably good and it has surprisingly good viewing angles. What I found annoying is that Kyocera left so much space unused on the front, while the display of so many other smartphones cover almost completely the front side (except for the dreaded notch).
Note: You can use the touch-screen even if you are wearing gloves or if your fingers are wet.

Similarly to Kyocera DuraForce Pro, the DuraForce Pro 2 has a Military Standard 810G certification, so the phone should withstand low pressure, temperature shock, any contamination by fluids, humidity, solar radiation, high altitude, mechanical vibration, pyroshock, icing or freezing rain and more, which makes the handset perfect for working in industrial fields (the device is also Class I Division 2 rated, so it can be used in hazardous places without causing explosions). This should ensure a serious protection from the elements and in case you accidentally drop it, know that the screen is not unbreakable (as said before), so be aware that if you drop it on a sharp object face first, it could shatter (there is a lip around the display which will definitely help a lot with keeping the screen’s integrity intact).

kyocera-duraforce-pro-2

Furthermore, the phone is IP68 rated, which means that it is protected against dust and it is waterproof, meaning that it can be temporarily immersed under water. To be more precise, the DuraForce Pro 2 will allow you to go as deep as 6.5 feet for up to 30 minutes and, at the same time, there is the Underwater Mode for all the camera options (you can film and capture photos under water).
And that leads us to the cameras. On the rear side, the DuraForce Pro 2 features a main 13-megapixel camera, with autofocus, LED flash and HDR, and a secondary wide-angle 8-megapixel camera (an upgrade from the 2-MP of the previous model).

In good light, the camera can capture some really good photos, with accurate colours, a low amount of noise and an overall good exposure. In low light, the camera struggled a bit, capturing photos with a lot of noise and grain. The secondary wide-angle camera is definitely an interesting addition, because it can capture super wide-view 4K videos (and the upgrade to the 8-megapixel sensor is definitely noticeable). The front 5-megapixel camera (no upgrade here) is good for selfies, but again, it will do a decent job in good light, but not so much indoors and in low-light environments.

Another great feature that’s been developed for the DuraForce Pro 2 is the advanced echo and active noise cancellation using four microphones which have the role of counterbalancing the external sounds, allowing you to better make phone calls (even using the speaker option) or simply listening to music or videos.

kyocera-duraforce-pro-2

On the inside, the DuraForce Pro 2 is equipped like a mid-range smartphone, sporting an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 chipset (octa-core 2.2 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU), an Adreno 508 GPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage memory, which can be augmented by 512GB using a microSD card. This hardware is specific to a mid-range handset and the performance will be as expected: great at multitasking, but not the best with 3D games that require a lot of resources. The phone also runs on Android v8.0 Oreo, but it has some pre-installed elements from Kyocera and some more from its carrier (the DuraForce Pro does not have an unlocked version, for now) – thankfully, the 4 GB of RAM will make a difference to contain the bloatware from the carrier.

Ignoring the carrier apps, the interface is reasonably clean and Kyocera added only a few native applications, such as the Outdoor Portal, which is a good tool for checking the weather, the real-time position of the moon and the sun, the correct altitude and even the tide with a fish activity rating. There’s also the Camera Underwater Mode which basically disables the touch-screen and let’s you control the phone using only the physical buttons.

kyocera-duraforce-pro-2

The last aspect that I would like to cover is the battery life. Just like the Duraforce Pro, the Pro 2 comes with a non-removable 3240 mAh battery which will get you through a full day of medium use (in the continuous loop video test, the battery died after almost 7 hours). The good news is that the phone comes with the UBS Type-C fast charging, so the battery will charge up to 60 % in about half an hour and there is support for the Qi wireless charging, but the charging pad is not included.

Verdict: The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 is definitely a better smartphone than the Kyocera Brigadier, but less of a significant upgrade over the DuraForce Pro 2 (although it does have a slightly better camera and more powerful hardware). At the same time, some improvements have been made to the overall ruggedness from its predecessor (the case it completely redesigned), but I’m not really a fan of not having the option to purchase this phone unlocked from the start and being forced to go through a carrier (which this time has added an annoying amount of bloatware). This is the main minus of the Kyocera DuraForce Pro and of course, I have already signalled all of its pluses, so if it’s not a problem for you to go through Verizon, this is a worthy smartphone for active people that like rock climbing and swimming.

New Kindle Oasis 7″ waterproof e-reader

  • April 24, 2019

Kindle Oasis Waterproof E-Reader

Ten years after the first Kindle made its debut, Amazon is releasing the first waterproof Kindle e-reader which is now available for pre-order. The new Kindle Oasis is a follow-up to the original Kindle Oasis, a premium metal-cased e-reader that was thinner and lighter than other Kindle models.

The new Kindle Oasis has a larger 7″ 300 dpi touchscreen, 8GB or 32GB of storage, and Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi plus free cellular connectivity. The Oasis’ waterproof rating is IPX8 and can be submersed up to 2 meters for 30 minutes. The back case is made of anodized aluminum and has a tapered, ergonomic design that makes one-handed reading easy and comfortable. The adaptive front light automatically adjusts brightness based on the surroundings. The optional Audible feature provides audiobook support and Bluetooth connectivity for headphones and speakers. The Kindle Oasis pricing starts at $249.99 for the 8GB Wi-Fi version.

If water exposure is a concern then paying a premium for the Oasis is a no-brainer, but how do the other features compare to other Kindle models like the Paperwhite and Voyage? The Oasis is the only Kindle with the tapered design for better one-handed reading. The Paperwhite and Voyage do not have Audible support and while the basic Kindle does, it does not offer cellular connectivity. The Oasis has a 12-LED front light while the Voyage has 6 LEDs and the Paperwhite has a 4-LED non-adaptive light. The glass used on the Oasis is said to be stronger than all other Kindles. The Oasis’ maximum storage option of 32GB is massive compared to the maximum 4GB of all other models, and even the 8GB version is a significant upgrade. Weighing in at 6.8 ounces, the new Oasis doesn’t have quite the weight advantage of the old Oasis (4.6 ounces) but it is still lighter than the others. The new Kindle Oasis is simply the best Kindle available. Even if one doesn’t anticipate using it outdoors or in the bathtub it is still worth considering for the larger screen, bigger capacity, Audible support, ergonomic design, and premium build quality.

Buy Kindle Oasis at Amazon

Top Five Galaxy Watch Accessories

  • April 17, 2019

Galaxy Watch is the latest smartwatch from Samsung and it is renowned for delivering powerful performances. What makes this smartwatch stand out from Samsung’s previous Gear S3 Classic and Frontier models is the sleek design that it’s equipped with and the premium user experience that it offers. Although, the Galaxy Watch still needs help from a couple of accessories in order to reach its full potential.

We know that picking the right accessories is a difficult task and this is why we have decided to scour the internet in search of the best Galaxy Watch accessories. The common theme between the top Galaxy Watch accessories that we are going to show everyone today is that they all help unlock the full power of the smartwatch while also providing it with another layer of protection against damage. With that being said, let’s check out which are the best Galaxy Watch accessories.

#1 Protective Case Cover

 Protective Case Cover

Considering the fact that Galaxy Watch is a wearable device, it’s more than likely that it will get hit at least once a week. Everyone who wears watches on a daily basis knows that it is not rare to hit your wrist on a door or a desk and this is why the first accessory for Galaxy Watch that we are presenting is a compatible protective case cover.

This case cover features an electroplate design which doesn’t just increase the protection of the Galaxy Watch, but also give it a more premium and high-end design. The cover is compatible with the 42mm and 46mm of Galaxy Watch and it also features a 24-month warranty protection program.
Price: $9.99
Purchase it from Amazon

#2 Samsung Wireless Charger

Samsung Wireless Charger

Dedicated Samsung fans who own more than one Galaxy devices might want to check out the wireless charging pad that is highlighted in the image featured above. This is a 2-in-1 wireless charging pad which means that it can charge a Galaxy Watch and a Samsung smartphone at the same time without any problems. We should mention that the wireless charging pad supports all Qi-Enabled smartphones and this also includes iPhones and hundreds of Android powered smartphones.

What makes this wireless charging pad from Samsung stand out from the rest is the fact that it ships with a built-in fan that provides the required ventilation in order to keep the devices which are being charged at a safe temperature. Just like the accessory before, the wireless charging pad from Samsung provides a one year warranty program.
Price: $61.39
Purchase it from Amazon

#3 Special Holder CaseCharger Holder

We previously showed everyone a wireless charging pad made by Samsung, but for our third spot we something even better. This is a portable holder that has been designed especially for Samsung’s Galaxy Watch. The portable holder is made from environmentally friendly materials and it offers a sturdy, lightweight and compact design. This makes the portable holder the perfect accessory for Galaxy Watch users who like to travel a lot and don’t want to worry about damaging the smartwatch while carrying it in their backpacks.
Price: $11.96
Purchase it from Amazon

#4 Luxury Bands

Luxury Bands

Even though Galaxy Watch is famed for its sleek and premium looking design, it does come with a downside. The downside of Galaxy Watch’s design is the fact that everyone’s else smartwatch is going to look the same. Truth be told, this is not a major problem but people who enjoy being unique and classy will not like it. This is why we want to present the CAGOS compatible Galaxy Watch active band sets on our fourth spot.

As we can clearly see in the image featured above, these Galaxy Watch bands look amazing. They are going to give Galaxy Watch users that special “design” they want and make the smartwatch an ideal accessory when going out to formal events. In addition, the bands sport an “easy to install” system which means that Galaxy Watch users will be able to lock them onto the smartwatch in only a couple of seconds.
Price: $18.99
Purchase it from Amazon

#5 Ringke Bezel

Ringke Bezel

Just like we have previously mentioned, the biggest downside about using a Galaxy Watch is the fact that everyone’s else Galaxy Watch looks the same. Fortunately, this is where the Ringke Bezel comes in and offers an alternative. This bezel is available in multiple colors and its design has been optimized to fit on Galaxy Watch.

The rotating ring works just like the original Galaxy Watch bezel does. Nonetheless, the primary reason why some Galaxy Watch fans might want to consider getting the Ringke Bezel is to avoid scratching the original one because Samsung is going to charge quite a lot in order to replace it with a brand-new one.
Price: $22.99
Purchase it from Amazon

Conclusion

These have been our top five accessories for Galaxy Watch. We had a difficult time picking them because there are so many other ones that can be purchased from Amazon. However, we had one rule of thumb when picking these top five accessories and that was for the accessories to be of premium quality and for them to help unlock the full potential of Galaxy Watch while also enhancing its protection against damages (screen cracks, scratches, etc). The last thing that we want to mention is that the Galaxy Watch is an expensive device and therefore, spending a couple of dollars for a protective cover is more than worth it.

Ambi Climate 2 Smart Air Conditioner Controller Review – MBReviews

  • April 10, 2019

The Ambi Climate 2 is the successor to the small KickStarter-backed device that was released around three years ago as a reaction to the traditional air conditioner remote control by offering a less restricting way of controlling the home thermal comfort and relying on the A.I. engine to negate the need of constantly adjusting parameters.

The new Ambi Climate 2 retains everything that made its predecessor a reliable device, but it has graduated to a more premium look, it is better integrated within a smart home environment (including some of the most popular smart assistants: Amazon Alexa and Google Home) and a more mature application.

ambi-climate

This isn’t the first time I encountered a device that learns from its user’s habits to deliver the perfect experience since the Nest Learning Thermostat 3 functions on the same premise (and yes, it will also connect to your air conditioner), but, what’s different about the Ambi Climate 2 is that instead of simply turning on and off the AC, the latter takes more things into account (indoors and outdoors temperature, humidity and sunlight) in order to adjust the right parameters. That being said, let’s have a closer look at the Ambi Climate 2 and see if it’s worth getting rid of the traditional remote control in favour of a smarter solution.

Design
The original Ambi Climate was a small device made of plastic, with three LED indicators carved within the case and a motion sensor right next to the Ambi logo. The Ambi Climate 2 kept the same shape (half octagon with rounded corners), but the device is now smaller (it measures around 4.25 x 1.65 x 3.18 inches), so it won’t cover much space from the desk and the device is also lighter than its predecessor, weighing 3.88 oz (instead of 5.29 oz). The reduction in size and weight go hand in hand, so the Ambi Climate 2 still remains reasonably stable and it will stay in place thanks to the silicone band attached on the bottom of the device (I also noticed that despite being more lightweight, the case is less squeaky (than on the first gen) and feels more solid in hand).

ambi-climate

To give the device a more premium look, the manufacturer has added a wooden base and it has removed the three front LEDs in favour of a single LED indicator which changes the colour depending on the status of the device: when the device is ready to be installed, the LED will slowly flash an amber colour and, after everything is set up and working fine, the LED will turn green. Some additional changes from the previous generation can also be seen on the top area which, before, was completely covered by a black glossy surface with several cut-outs (underneath it, rested five infrared transmitters) and now, the surface is divided in two parts with some narrow canals that expose the internal hardware and allow some amount of air ventilation. This does have a positive impact because the device remains cool to touch at any given time.

One element that is completely missing is the motion sensor which I’m not entirely sure that it was functional on the first gen Ambi Climate, but it would have been a nice addition if implemented in the new device (so, in case you weren’t in the room for a certain amount of time, the air conditioner would completely turn off to avoid unnecessary power consumption). On the rear side of the device, you’ll be able to find a micro-USB port for powering on the device, while next to it there’s a USB port (can be used only for diagnostics purposes) and a small, recessed Reset button (to return the device to factory default settings).

ambi-climate

Installation and Functionality
What sets apart a great smart device from a mediocre one is usually the way the application is integrated with the hardware and, so far, it seems that Ambi Climate has managed to create a seamless and user friendly installation process despite featuring some seemingly complex steps. The first thing that you need to do is to download and install the Ambi Climate application (available for both Android OS and iOS platforms) and, after launching the app, you’ll be asked to either Log into an existing account or Create a new one (there’s also the possibility of running a Demo instance).

If you lack an account, simply create a new one and, after logging in, you’ll be greeted by a new window where you can could Add a Device from Invitation (this way, you can invite other people to control your device), Add Ambi Climate 2, Add the original Ambi Climate or Buy a new Device. Here, choose the second option and, this time, you’ll be greeted by a new window which has three steps available that need to be taken in order to properly install the Ambi Climate. The first step requires the disclosure of the device’s location and to be given a name (I know that people which have security concerns will frown upon this, but a part of the Ambi Climate’s 2 functionality requires knowing the outside weather); afterwards, you have to set up the WiFi Settings.

ambi-climate

Before undergoing this step, it is advisable to place the Ambi Climate 2 on a flat surface close enough to the air conditioner (so that it can ‘see it’ via infrared), connect it to a power outlet and wait until the LED indicator starts flashing slowly. Press Next, connect your mobile device to the AmbiClimate network and, once again, press Next. Afterwards, you’ll be asked to choose between the existing networks inside your home, but be aware that the device does not support the 5GHz-only routers (nor hidden SSIDs) – now, simply wait until the Ambi Climate 2 connects to the Cloud and until you get the confirmation message that it was connected to your WiFi. The last step is a bit more tricky because you’ll have to replace the existing remote control with the Ambi Climate.

ambi-climate

Before this, you need to make sure that your air conditioner has a remote control with a display, otherwise you won’t be able to pair the device to the AC. The application will request for you to choose the air conditioner brand name and the type of remote control (it is a code which can either be found on the back of the remote or inside the battery compartment). The pairing process has been successful after you hear a sound or your AC makes any type of reaction to the signal sent by the Ambi Climate. Lastly, the app will display the AC Profile which should match the functions of the remote.

ambi-climate

It is important to know that the Ambi Climate 2 does not completely replace the remotes and that you will still be able to use them alongside it. Furthermore, in my case, I have two indoor units connected to a single outdoor unit and each of them has a separate remote (which are interchangeable). What I did notice that a single Ambi Climate device will work for both indoor units, but it did not see them as separate entities.

The main app window displays a landscape photo with some info on the top area (the location of the Ambi Climate, the current mode, the indoor temperature, humidity and a quick feedback for the thermal comfort), while underneath it, the app displays a graph with the temperature and humidity inside the house over a longer period of time. In the middle of the window, depending on the chosen mode, you’ll get a small round feedback icon (tap on it to see all the possible type of feedback) and, at the bottom of the page, there are four shortcuts to the main sections. The first one is the Analytics, which includes the Insights (the AC Run Time over the last 4 weeks – it displays your usage pattern over the last week compared to that over the previous 3 weeks), the History (complete overview over the indoor/outdoor humidity and the temperature for the current day, week or month) and the Deployment (shows a log with all the action that you or the A.I. made).

ambi-climate

The second section is the AC Settings and it has two main options, one is the AC Controls (offers the same type of flexibility and control as your remote) and the other is the A.I. Control which allows you to choose between the modes that are allowed to be used by the A.I. (such as cool, dry, heat or auto). The third section is the Device, which is divided into Timers (add schedules for how and when the Ambi Climate is operational) and Device Settings: allows you to change the location, the pairing and the WiFi settings, as well as inviting new users, changing the wallpaper, calibrating the sensor, set the LED brightness and the Beeper loudness.

The last section is the Modes and it offers five main options: Comfort, Temperature, Away, Manual and Off. The Comfort mode needs constant adjustments from the user (don’t worry, it’s just letting the app know if you’re comfortable or not) and, after a certain period of time, the Ambi Climate will know exactly what you deem comfortable and will adjust the proper parameters without needing any type of feedback from you. The Temperature mode requires that you select the desired temperature and the device will work towards reaching its target. The Away mode is especially designed to ensure that the device will not consume too much energy while you’re away and that it will still maintain a certain temperature/humidity level (so, for example, during the winter, your home won’t be affected by freezing temperatures). The Manual mode disables any A.I. ability and allows you to control the Ambi Climate as you would with the remote. Lastly, the Off mode simply turns off the device.

ambi-climate

And this is pretty much what the device can do and how it works to keep a proper comfort level inside your home, but, considering that it still is a smart device, it can be paired with some smart assistants, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home (unfortunately, it does not support Apple’s Homekit). Since I do own a Google Home Mini, I decided to pair it with the Ambi Climate and see how smooth the process is. Pairing the device to the Google Home Mini is generally painless (you need to go to Settings > Assistant and, at Home Control, press ‘plus’ to add the Ambi Climate app) and, afterwards, you can use various voice commands to set the temperature or humidity in the room, to turn on or off the device or switching the modes.

Conclusion
It’s true that the smart thermostats such as ecobee4 and Nest Learning have dominated the smart HVAC market for a long time, but the small Ambi Climate focuses only towards one type of product and offers a lot more than the simple ability of turning the device on and off. The application seems refined, with the options clearly laid out, so users with any type of technical knowledge can easily navigate it and adjust the necessary options, while the integration with the Amazon Alexa and Google Home are a welcomed addition for anyone that truly wants to experience the smart home dream.

Furthermore, the A.I. learning ability is another great addition and, even if I only use the Ambi Climate 2 from about three days ago (I will return to it in the summer, when the device’s abilities can truly shine), for now, everything seems to be working properly.
Note: As with all IoT devices, do make sure to keep them and your router up to date, make sure to limit the app’s permissions to the bare minimum and, if possible, put all the smart devices on their separate VLAN.

Check out the product here:

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Ambi Climate 2

Ambi Climate 2

Pros

  • Uses A.I. For Adjusting The Room Temperature and Humidity
  • The App Is User Friendly And Intuitive
  • Analyses Both Indoor and Outdoor Temperature and Humidity
  • The Small Case Feels And Looks Premium
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home

Cons

  • Doesn’t Support Apple Homekit
  • Doesn’t Work With 5GHz Only Routers
  • Requires Remote Controls With A Display

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RuckBucket: A Versatile 5-Gallon Backpack Cooler

  • April 3, 2019

Ruckbucket 5-Gallon Bucket Cooler Backpack

Created by outdoor enthusiasts, the MUUL RuckBucket is an innovative cooler that is billed as a “truck bed for your back.” It is essentially a 5-gallon bucket in backpack form that is insulated, crushproof, and watertight.

The removable food-safe bucket holds 5.3 gallons and has 5-gallon insulation insert. The backpack components are made of high-quality 500D nylon with a sternum strap to stabilize the load. The bucket compartment can be closed with the included padded bucket lid and zipper enclosure. When closed, the pack is sturdy enough to sit on.

Ruckbucket Seat

The MOLLE webbing on the front and sides allows the pack to be customized with additional pouches or equipment. The side and top handles allow for easy carrying.

Ruckbucket Cooler Insulation Insert

The potential uses for the RuckBucket are too numerous to list but likely activities include camping, fishing, and foraging. It can also serve as a rugged storage bag for equipment or be outfitted as a bug-out bag for emergency situations. The RuckBucket has clear advantages over other backpack coolers with its durable and easy-to-clean bucket interior, customizable exterior, and overall versatility.

Ruckbucket Cooler Backpack

The RuckBucket cooler is available in midnight black, coyote tan, surf blue, and hunter orange. It is available in a standard configuration (list price $149.95) and a “Fully Loaded” configuration (list price $179.95) that includes a water bottle holder and a half-gallon side pouch. The RuckBucket is available to purchase at muulusa.com and Amazon, with international shipping at Amazon.

Buy RucketBucket at Amazon

Powerful Wireless Chargers for iPhone X, XR, XS and XS Max

  • March 27, 2019

Multiple reports are showing that Apple is planning to launch the highly anticipated AirPower wireless charger later this month. AirPower was initially announced back in 2017 and it was supposed to ship alongside the innovative iPhone X. However, this didn’t happen and the wireless charger was shelved.

Even though buying a wireless charger made directly by Apple instead of third-party accessory makes sounds like a great idea, this might not be the case. If there is something that we all can agree on, then it has to be the fact that Apple overprices its products.

Therefore, Apple fans might want to consider picking a wireless charger that is not made by the Cupertino based tech giant. With that said, today we are going to present the top ten most powerful wireless chargers that will work on iPhone X, XR, XS and XS Max.

#1 NANFU

Powerful iPhone Wireless Chargers NANFU

NANFU makes the first wireless charger for iPhones that we have on our list. This is a somewhat affordable wireless charger and it sells for $25.99. However, what makes this wireless charger worthy of the first spot on our list is the fact that it features Qi Wireless 7.5 Fast charging technology that is paired with a cooling fan to prevent the iPhone from overheating.

Price: $25.99
Purchase it from Amazon

#2 Anker

ANKER Powerful iPhone Wireless Chargers

When it comes to Apple accessory makers, the company known as Anker is one of the best ones. The Anker wireless charger uses Qi-enabled technology and its software optimization helps it charge iPhones 10% faster than any other 5W wireless chargers available on Amazon. In addition, the iPhone can be placed vertically or horizontally in order to enable versatile viewing for media.

Price: $21.99
Purchase it from Amazon

#3 Lightgrey

Lightgrey Powerful iPhone Wireless Chargers

The Lightgrey wireless charger is perfect for iPhone users who are looking for something reliable and affordable. This wireless charger is priced at only $15.99 and it features dual-coil technology. Not just that, but the folks at Lightgrey have also made sure to equip the wireless charger with smart chip safety features that will control the temperature of the device so that it doesn’t overheat the charging iPhone.

Price: $15.99
Purchase it from Amazon

#4 Yootech

Yootech Powerful iPhone Wireless Chargers

The folks at Yootech offer a two pack design. This means that iPhone users who purchase this wireless charger will receive two pieces in the package. One of the pieces can be used in order to charge the iPhone while at home and the second one can be used at the office. This is a great deal and to make things even better, the wireless charger features 7.5W, 10W and 5W charging mods.

Price: $21.49
Purchase it from Amazon

#5 Belkin

Belkin Powerful iPhone Wireless Chargers

The accessory maker “Belkin” is renowned for creating high-end products that go along perfectly with Apple’s iPhones. The wireless charger made by Belkin offers premium charging performances and the people who are in charge of it are so confident in these performances that they are offering a 3-year warranty with registration program.

Price: $15.99
Purchase it from Amazon

#6 Bestand

Bestand Powerful iPhone Wireless Chargers

The first thing that you can notice after taking a look at the Bestand wireless charger (featured in the picture above) is that it sports a sleek design. The beautiful design of the Qi enabled wireless charger is great for iPhones because it makes them stand out. In addition, the main body is made from an aluminum alloy while the bottom side is coated with an anti-skid silicone pad. Therefore, the iPhone will never slip and fall from the Bestand wireless charger.

Price: $19.98
Purchase it from Amazon

#7 Bestand 3-in-1

Bestand 3-in-1 Powerful iPhone Wireless Chargers

This is the premium and more expensive version of the previous wireless charger. What makes this wireless charger special and worth the extra dollar sis the fact that it can charge up to three Apple devices at the same time. This means that loyal Apple fans who have purchased and iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods will be able to charge them at the same time, without having to connect them to a cable ever again.

Price: $49.98
Purchase it from Amazon

#8 LinuXing Accessories

LinuXing Accessories Powerful iPhone Wireless Chargers

Since we previously talked about the Bestand 3-in-1 wireless charger, we have to also introduce the LinuXing Accessories 3-in-1 wireless charging pad. The pad offers fast 7.5W wireless charging technology and it works perfectly with Apple’s latest iPhones. The great thing about the accessory made by LinuXing Accessories is the fact that makes it easier for Apple fans to save precious space by supporting multiple Apple devices at the same time.

To top it all off, the LinuXing Accessories wireless charging pad offers a 24-month warranty alongside full time customer service.

Price: $39.99
Purchase it from Amazon

#9 Kuppet

Kuppet Powerful iPhone Wireless Chargers

Some people enjoy flashy designs while others like something that looks classy and simple. Well, this is where the Kuppet wireless charger comes in. This wireless charger can support an iPhone and an Apple Watch at the same time. Furthermore, the 2-in-1 pad can charge the iPhone at 7.5W and the Apple Watch at 2W.

In addition, the Kuppet wireless charger features intelligent overheat protection which adopts the advanced PM2760 chip. The chip is used to monitor the temperature 24/7 in order to make sure that the iPhone or Apple Watch doesn’t get too heated.

Price: $34.90
Purchase it from Amazon

#10 Chuanghuike

Chuanghuike Powerful iPhone Wireless Chargers

We want to end our list with something really special. The wireless charger made by the folks at Chuanghuike features a spectacular glossy Apple logo design. This wireless charger is perfect for iPhone users who want to show everyone just how much they love the products made by Apple.

Moreover, the wireless charger features a small LED indicator and the reason why we are mentioning this is because the LED has been placed low-key in order to not cause any disturbances during the night.

Price: $22.99
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These have been our top ten most powerful wireless chargers for iPhones. As everyone can clearly see, they all feature affordable prices and deliver great performances which means there isn’t a wrong pick here. Apple fans can choose whichever wireless charger they want from this list and they won’t regret it.

TRENDnet TPE-LG80 Ethernet Switch Review – MBReviews

  • March 20, 2019

The TRENDnet TPE-LG80 is an 8-port PoE+ Ethernet switch, recently released by the California-based manufacturer as part of its new Long Range series which focuses towards ensuring that the PoE+ signal can be extended up to 656 feet while maintaining a multi-megabit throughput (10 Mbps full duplex) – by default, PoE can usually reach only up to 328 feet.

This way, the deployment of outdoors (or indoors) PoE devices, such as IP cameras or wireless access points is made a lot easier, but that’s not the only element that sets it apart from the other 8-port PoE switches from the competition: the TPE-LG80 is also offering VLAN port isolation and QoS (despite lacking an utility software) and it is one of the most compact 8-port switches available on the market right now, all that at an affordable price point.
Note: The Long Range series also includes the 5-port TPE-LG50, so TRENDnet is still testing the waters to see if there’s any user demand for an 8+ port LR switch.

trendnet-tpe-lg80

Design
Unlike the consumer wireless router which was forced to migrate from the industrial look to become more attractive for a wider audience (the case of the minimalist WiFi systems), the Ethernet switch was allowed to keep its default form factor considering that it mostly has to cater to the small and medium businesses (the Ubiquiti EdgeSwitch and the Netgear S8000 are among the only Ethernet switches that deviate from the norm). The TRENDnet TPE-LG80 has also adhered to the industrial look, featuring a rectangular box made of metal and covered by a black matte finish.

It’s worth emphasizing that the TPE-LG80 is one of the most compact PoE switches on the market, measuring 9.45 x 4.13 x 1.1 inches, so I have to give kudos to TRENDnet for managing to include all the necessary hardware inside such a small case (when put next to the 8-port Open Mesh S8, the TPE-LG80 is about one fifth of its size).

trendnet-tpe-lg80

Most PoE Ethernet switches can easily overheat, so, to alleviate this problem, the manufacturers often install a fan to keep the temperature in check, but, despite being small, TRENDnet decided to simply rely on the passive cooling, so the device remains quiet throughout the entire time it is operational (the TPE-LG80 has added ventilation grills on the left and right side, as well as on the rear) – after I opened the case, I saw that TRENDnet has added alloy heat sinks to re-route the heat from the chipsets. After I connected five PoE wireless access points, I noticed that the device did get slightly warm near the top side, but it showed no signs that it may overheat, so the cooling system seems to be working just fine even if it’s not relying on a fan.

Just like the servers, PDUs or corporate-level routers, the regular Ethernet switch was designed to be mounted on a rack, but the TRENDnet TPE-LG80 lacks the dedicated holes for attaching the rack mounting ears, so you’ll either have to use a tray to mount it on a rack or simply position it on a desk or shelf (don’t forget to add the four rubber feet (found inside the package), which will help keep the device in place regardless of the number of connected cables). If the space is limited, then the TRENDnet TPE-LG80 can also be mounted on the wall using the two bottom holes.

trendnet-tpe-lg80

If you look around the case, you’ll notice that the manufacturer decided to put every port, button and switch on the front side of the device and I do think that this was the right call considering that the cable management is a lot better.

That being said, from the left, there’s a DC-IN port (to which you can connect a 100-240V 2.5A Max power brick), an On/Off switch (a welcomed addition), the DIP switch (a red area where there are eight small switches, each activating a certain function on some specific (or all) ports), the LED area and eight Ethernet Gigabit PoE+ LAN ports. The LED area consists of ten LED indicators positioned in two groups, the first two showing the status of the PWR (it will light up when the device is turned on) and if the PoE budget will go beyond the maximum 65 Watts (PoE Alert – be aware that each PoE port receives a budget of up to 30W), while the other 8 pairs of LED indicators show the connection status of every port: the top LEDs (LINK/ACT) will light green if the link is established at 1Gbps or amber when the connection is at 10/100Mbps, while the bottom LEDs will be solid green if you connect a PoE device (the Ethernet switch supports the following PoE standards: IEEE 802.3at and 802.3af).

trendnet-tpe-lg80

ALSO CHECK OUT: THE BEST ETHERNET SWITCHES

Hardware
Inside the case (which can easily be opened by removing the three screws from the rear side), TRENDnet has equipped the TPE-LG80 with four MNC G4813CG 1824X Integrated Circuits, an Anpec Electronics APW7313 VU6HP 3A Synchronous Buck Converter, a 7AAVV4U LM5575 SIMPLE SWITCHER® Buck Regulator, a NXP 74HC1640 CRX79403 Semiconductor, a Fremont Micro Devices FT24C16A 8P6NMC IC and an IC Plus IP210TB chipset. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remove the two heat sinks from the main chips since the manufacturer decided to solder them to the PCB.

Note: The TRENDnet TPE-LG80 features a switching capacity of 16 Gbps (which is lower than the OM S8, but on par with the Nighthawk S8000), a RAM buffer of 192 KB, 9KB Jumbo Frames and a Forwarding rate of 11.9 Mpps (64-byte packet size).

trendnet-tpe-lg80

Features and Setup
If you ignore the DIP switch area (which is probably the most important element implemented of this device), then the TPE-LG80 will function as a regular unmanaged switch which works in a Plug and Play manner: you simply connect PoE / PoE+ devices to the switch and you’re good to go – but, that would be a shame since the TPE-LG80 can do so much more. The device is marketed as a ‘Long Range’ PoE+ Ethernet switch, so, by pushing the first DIP switch (1) to the On position, it will activate the LR function on the first and second LAN port, which means that any PoE+ device will maintain a 10 Mbps throughput if the cable is up to 656 feet (or 200 meters).

Let’s not forget that the default maximum distance is around 328 feet, so this little switch doubles that reach and delivers a higher degree of flexibility in choosing the proper place to install your PoE devices – I noticed that this technology isn’t really implemented that often and I only saw it on some Edimax Ethernet switches (which works pretty much in an identical way) or with Planet Technology (its devices supports a greater distance, but they’re also less budget-friendly).

trendnet-tpe-lg80

The second DIP switch activates the LR function for the third and fourth ports, while the fifth switch activates the LR function for the fifth port, the same as the sixth and the seventh DIP switch which activate the LR function for the sixth and seventh port (respectively). The third DIP switch has the role of activating the VLAN port isolation for the port one to four, which is a very useful feature for isolating IoT devices from the rest of your clients, so, in case one of them gets compromised, the infection doesn’t spread throughout the entire network. The fourth DIP switch enables QoS, so that VoIP traffic and basically anything from the Video & Voice spectrum gets reserved the highest priority.

Lastly, there’s the eight DIP switch which enables the VLAN port isolation feature to the port five to seven – make sure that you don’t enable the DIP switch 3 and 8 at the same time and, after making any changes to the DIP switch, you need to reboot the TRENDnet TPE-LG80 in order to apply the new settings.
Note: You don’t have to worry about what DIP switch does what because TRENDnet has put a label with the instructions on the bottom side of the device.

trendnet-tpe-lg80

To test the TRENDnet long range claim, I took two computers and I connected both to the switch and I enabled the LR function for the first two ports (DIP switch 1): for the first PC, I used a 65 foot cable (20 m), while between the Ethernet switch and the second computer, I used a 560-foot cable (approx. 170 m). This way, from the client to the server, I measured an average of 9.52 Mbps, while from the server to the client, I got 9.45 Mbps which is in line with what TRENDnet claims (the advertised 10 Mbps without overhead).

Conclusion
The unmanaged Ethernet switches have a special place on the market, allowing the user to gain more ports while requiring nothing more than the connection of a few cables and, while TRENDnet TPE-LG80 does fall in this category, it offers something that its competitors do not: the Long Range function that expands the PoE+ signal up to 656 feet on 7 of its 8 ports, QoS and VLAN port isolation, all that in a fanless compact case.

Check for the latest price here:

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TRENDnet TPE-LG80

TRENDnet TPE-LG80

Pros

  • 65W total PoE+ power budget
  • Long Range PoE+ Function Reaching Up To 656 Feet
  • QoS and Port Isolation
  • All Eight Gigabit Ports Support The PoE+ Technology
  • Compact, Fanless Case

Cons

  • No Ethernet Switch With More Than 8 Ports Available

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