Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

New wireless router

After five years of trouble-free operation with my 11Mbps D-link DWL1000-AP 802.11b wireless access point I decided to upgrade my home wireless gear. The USRobotics USR-8000A router with print server and the access point were replaced by an SMC2804WBRP-G that contains a print server (for USB printers), 54Mbps 802.11g wireless access point, four ports FastEthernet switch and router, all in one nice box.

My initial research on the net told me the product firmware was quite poor, with lots of users reporting different problems. However, because the retail price was under 100 Euros I decided to give it a try.

The results: I configured the router off-line and then I just switched the old by the new gear on the fly. The p2p software I was running on a server continued running as happy as before. I was a bit dissapointed as the unit's current firmware does not provide fixed IP mapping, this can be a problem.

After some hours of happy networking my son complained an streamed show he was watching was choppy and he was getting some network cable disconnected warnings. A closer inspection revealed the router was reseting itself sometimes. Not a good thing. The problem stopped when I disabled packet inspection features.

My opinion is that this is cheap wireless router with a nice look and decent performance but lacking on the QA side. It has some interesting features and lacks of others. I give it just a C grade.

One detail: the printer server is an LPR server, but the printer queue name is not lp but LPT1. Armed with this info my unit allows me to print from Windows, OSX and Linux like a charm.

Monday, January 10, 2005

A nice video projector

These holidays we've got some new stuff to play with. I'm very impressed with the new Creative Zen Micro, which is a harddisk based 5GB MP3 player plus FM radio plus voice recorder. It looks cool, it sounds superb and the software just works. Very nice too is the new Muvo (same capabilities but Flash-memory based, ours is only 256 MB).

But the star has been the PB1600 video projector. It really delivers a great image for either DVD or VGA. It's 800x600 DLP-based but our 1024x768 iBook displays just fine. Now I need to get a projection screen to get the best result.