Netgear D6400 AC1600,802.11ac router that cuts a few too many corners

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED

£124.99 inc VAT

NETGEAR D6400 AC1600 REVIEW

Netgear has two distinct router lines. Its ‘Nighthawk’ series of premium cable routers are the more powerful, with giant external antennas, and one model, the R7500, offers 4×4 MIMO quad-stream 802.11ac for the fastest possible speeds. The D6400 is part of a more down-to-earth lineup though, with internal antennas, a slightly cut-down specification and a considerably lower price. See also: Best routers you can buy in 2015

Routers are generally un-sexy devices in the gadget world. When your router is working well, you don’t give it a second thought; it’s only when your internet connection or Wi-Fi drops out that you curse it and maybe reboot it. Manufacturers try out all sorts of tricks to make their router unique and design is one of the main ways to differentiate a product from the competition.

The front of the D6400 has is so reflective it’s almost a mirror and it attracts fingerprints as easily as the average glass smartphone screen. At the bottom there’s a bright purple band, which serves no purpose whatsoever, other than complimenting the black design. The edges are sharply angled and the rear of the chassis is covered in triangular holes (which are air vents).

Netgear D6400 review

There’s another minor addition. Most DSL routers lack a fifth ethernet port for WAN connections, which you might require if you switch provider and need to use an external modem. Netgear has thought of that and usefully provides both a WAN port and a standard RJ11 DSL connector.

The D6400 is slightly more affordable than a lot of DSL routers, but in cutting the costs, a few features have been cut as well. The two USB ports on the side and rear are only USB 2 rather than USB 3, and although the D6400 offers full 3×3 MIMO 802.11ac for speeds up to 1300Mbit/sec, it only supports 300Mbit/sec over 802.11n.

It has 128MB of memory, a dual-core processor and a 128MB ROM. Such details, naturally, are irrelevant to most buyers.

Netgear’s Genie software works well, with a sparse-looking interface but all the usual features in the right places. The main page gives you an overview of the status of the wireless network, DSL connection, parental controls, attached USB storage and a network overview. The ReadyShare software makes it pretty simple to set up a shared folder on attached drive.

NETGEAR D6400 REVIEW: PERFORMANCE

When it came to testing, we expected to see 802.11n results from the D6400 that came out slightly worse than other models. Performance at 2.4GHz was nothing special. At short range it didn’t even reach 100Mbit/sec, but it fared better with 5GHz 802.11n. Its performance was nowhere near the bottom of the pack, with some excellent speeds at range.

It didn’t do too well with 802.11ac though, with some fairly middling speeds at short range, although its results at 20m distance look a lot better. None of these results are terrible though, and as we stated earlier, 802.11ac speeds still trump any older wireless standard.

 

802.11ac modem routers: test results

SPECS

Canon’s DSLR camera boasts an insane 120-megapixels

Canon DSLRCANON
Canon is developing a digital SLR camera with a sensor that boasts a resolution of about 120 megapixels.

That’s more than double the resolution of Canon’s 50.6-megapixel EOS 5DS and 5DS R models, which were announced in February as having world’s highest resolution for digital SLR 35mm full-frame sensors.

The super-dense CMOS sensor in the new prototype shooter is in the APS-H format and the camera would work with 60 of the 96 lenses in Canon’s EF lineup.

The sensor produces eye-popping images that can be printed as full-size posters, said Canon, which announced Monday that it has developed a 250-megapixel prototype sensor for extreme-resolution imaging.

The 120-megapixel camera outputs RAW image files with a data size of 232MB, nearly four times as big as the 60.5MB RAW files shot by the 5DS.

In 2010, Canon produced a 120-megapixel CMOS sensor as a technical challenge and it was never commercialized. Though it released a generic image of an EOS DSLR for the latest prototype camera, there are no immediate plans to commercialize it either.

“This camera was produced as an example of Canon’s high-definition imaging capabilities,” spokesman Richard Berger said via email.

The new sensor can be considered an evolution of the 2010 one but it uses the latest fabrication technologies, he added.

Canon Cinema EOS System 8K cameraCANON
Canon’s Cinema EOS System 8K camera, announced Sept. 8, 2015, is targeted at broadcast professionals.

Canon also announced that it’s developing a camera and display that can record and show imagery in 8K, a new video format with 16 times the resolution of today’s high-definition TVs.

The Cinema EOS System 8K camera and 8K reference display follow the company’s 4K equipment for professional users. They mark the company’s first foray into 8K broadcasting, which is expected to begin in Japan ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The 8K camera will have a Canon Super 35mm-equivalent CMOS sensor with 8,192 by 4,320 pixel resolution at 60 frames per second. The display will have a pixel density over 300 pixels per inch, which approaches the limits of perception by the human eye, the company said.

Canon hasn’t announced plans to release the 8K gear, but it’s part of the manufacturer’s recent push into the film-making and broadcasting market with its Cinema EOS products, competing against established rivals such as Sony.

Japanese media companies could be potential users in the run-up to the Olympics. Public broadcaster NHK, which has pioneered 8K technologies, is scheduled to begin tests of 8K programs in 2016.

Nest’s Dropcam outage reveals the downside of online-only IP cameras

Nest CamNEST LABS
Some Dropcam and Nest Cam users may have felt a little less secure last night, when a service outage rendered the IP cameras inaccessible for several hours.

The outage also affected other Nest products, including Nest Learning Thermostats and Protect smoke detectors. Nest acknowledged the outage at 9:28 p.m. Eastern time, and restored service at 12:48 a.m. The Alphabet-owned company hasn’t explained exactly what caused the lengthy outage, but is encouraging users to contact customer support if problems persist.

For Nest thermostat owners, the outage was a small inconvenience, preventing remote control via Nest’s mobile and web apps. Users could still adjust the temperature directly on the Nest itself, just like a regular thermostat.

However, Dropcam and Nest Cam users don’t have that kind of offline fallback. Accessing the camera feed requires an Internet connection to Dropcam’s servers, rendering the cameras worthless during an outage.

Not surprisingly, local Wi-Fi access for Dropcam is one of the most popular user requests. Still, Dropcam has insisted that this feature isn’t worth doing. “While we recognize there are times when this could be a useful addition to the product, we believe a cloud-based service ultimately provides a simpler and more secure solution for the majority of customers,” Dropcam said on its support forums last October. “Because of this, we do not plan on offering a local storage option at this time.”

The impact on you at home: Dropcam’s online-only approach does have its benefits, the biggest being that you won’t lose footage if an intruder swipes your camera or destroys your hard drive. But when an outage does happen, this approach leaves you without any fallback. It’s just a trade-off to keep in mind if you’re debating between Dropcam and an alternative that does local storage.

One Small Step for Man as Astronaut Controls Robot From Space

European experts have pulled off a major advance that might one day help build new worlds in space after an astronaut in the International Station Station remotely guided a robot on Earth by feel.

Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen performed the breath-taking experiment in which he placed a peg into a very tight hole on Monday under the careful control of the European Space Agency.

While orbiting some 400 kilometres (250 miles) above Earth, Mogensen took control of the Interact Centaur rover which has a pair of arms for delicate, high-precision work.

The blue-and-white fibreglass robot, which cost less than EUR 200,000 (roughly Rs. 1.5 crores) to build, also has a camera on its head which allows the controller to directly see the task it is performing.

But sight is not the most important sense in this project. It is touch.

In real-time, thanks to super swift signals bouncing off a dedicated complex system of satellites working in synchronisation, the astronaut manoeuvered the robot into place.

He then very slowly lowered a metal pin held by the robot into a tight hole in a task board with less than a sixth of a millimetre of wriggle room.

Using a joystick
For the first time – thanks to force-feedback technology – when the pin was not aligned correctly Mogensen felt it hit the sides of the hole via the joystick he was operating on the space station.

Cheers erupted when after several long nail-biting minutes the rover which slightly resembles Disney’s WALL.E cartoon character dropped the pin successfully into place.

Scientists and engineers believe applications of this kind of tactile technology are huge allowing humans to guide robots in delicate tasks by feeling their way.

The technology will allow people “to project a human-like presence into the robots, to do human-like tasks on the surface” of a planet, Andre Schiele, head of ESA’s Telerobotics and Haptics Laboratory, told AFP.

With space engineers hoping at some point to fly people to Mars, “we have to bring them back” which means before they first step foot on the planet “you would have to build an entire launch-platform on the planet.”

Robots like the Centaur also affectionately dubbed the “blue bug” by some of its designers could be put in place first to do the building.

“There’s going to be a need for a set-up, some building before a human even sets foot on the planet and for that we could send down robots and control them from a space station,” said industrial designer Emiel den Exter.

The 18-month project was a collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and students from Delft University of Technology.

“Even something like lacing your shoe is something you rely entirely on your tactile senses” for, Schiele told journalists gathered at the ESA headquarters in the Dutch town of Noordwijk.

Earthly uses
On Earth this cutting-edge technology known as haptics could also be used “everywhere where you basically don’t want to send humans,” said Schiele.

“Feeling” robots would have been useful to cap the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, or help seal the reactors at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant after the 2011 meltdown.

Professor Frans van der Helm, from Delft University’s mechanical engineering unit, said one scheme was looking at using such robots to work in a massive nuclear fusion project in France.

Inside the costly, multipartner International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) – if it is built – “the heat will be about one million degrees,” Van der Helm told AFP.

“So everything starts to deform” making it hard for robots to complete a task which they have been programmed for, he said.

In this case, telepresence technology would allow a human to feel their way through and fix a problem.

For 27-year-old Turkish student Doga Emirdag, who helped design the Centaur’s exo-skeleton as part of his masters degree, Monday’s demonstration was a big day.

“The robot as it is wouldn’t go into space. But the technology being developed will go to space,” he said with a broad smile.

Humanoid Robot to Liaise Between International Space Station Crews

A team of French researchers has developed “an autobiographical memory” for the only robot on the International Space Station (ISS) which will help the robot liaise between the astronauts that change every six months in order to pass on information.

In order for a robot to understand cooperative behaviour, researchers developed a system whereby a human agent can teach their new “Nao” robot new actions through physical demonstration, visual imitation or voice command.

These individual actions are then combined into procedures and stored in the robot’s autobiographical memory developed by researchers, thus enabling the robot to reproduce them for other human agents if needed.

“This technological progress could notably be used for operations on the orbiting laboratory,” saidsenior researcher Peter Ford Dominey from the Institut cellule souche et cerveau (Inserm/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1).

Researchers set up this autobiographical memory system to meet the challenge of cooperation between humans and robots, with the humanoid “Robonaut 2” which is now permanently flying aboard the ISS.

Autobiographical memory includes events that were personally experienced, along with their context.

It makes it possible to date and locate memories, and to determine who was present during the event.

With human beings, autobiographical memory helps build an individual’s personal history.

The transmission of information on board is essential since crews change every six months.

Researchers are now hoping to test their “Nao” robot in the real conditions of space operations with zero gravity.

They would also like to develop another area of application, assisting the elderly, with the robot this time playing the role of a personal memory aid.

“Robonaut 2” is a humanoid robot resulting from the Robonaut programme, a close collaboration between Nasa and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

A unit was delivered to the ISS in February 2011 to control the robot’s operation in weightlessness.

It was designed to assist the work of astronauts in complicated situations, especially during extra-vehicular outings.

The new results were presented at the international symposium on robot and human interactive communication in Kobe, Japan, recently.

Magnetic ‘Wormhole’ Created in Lab

Spanish scientists have created in a lab the first experimental “wormhole” that can magnetically connect two regions of space.

It comprises a tunnel that transfers the magnetic field from one point to the other while keeping it undetectable all the way.

“Wormholes” are cosmic tunnels that can connect two distant regions of the universe.

These have been popularised by the dissemination of theoretical physics and by sci-fi films like Stargate, Star Trek and Interstellar.

Using present-day technology, it would be impossible to create a gravitational wormhole as the field would have to be manipulated with huge amounts of gravitational energy, which no one yet knows how to generate.

In electromagnetism, however, advances in metamaterials and invisibility have allowed researchers from the department of physics at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona put forward several designs to achieve this.

The researchers used metamaterials and metasurfaces to build the tunnel experimentally so that the magnetic field from a source, such as a magnet or a an electromagnet, appears at the other end of the ‘wormhole’ as an isolated magnetic monopole.

The overall effect is that of a magnetic field that appears to travel from one point to another through a dimension that lies outside the conventional three dimensions.

The magnetic wormhole is an analogy of gravitational ones, as it “changes the topology of space, as if the inner region has been magnetically erased from space,” explained lead researcher Alvar Sanchez.

Oculus Connect 2 VR Developer Conference Schedule Announced

Oculus-Connect

Later this month from September 23rd – 25th this years Oculus Connect 2 will take place at the Loews Hollywood Hotel and will provide a chance for developers to see the new VR technology in development.

In preparation for the arrival of the Connect 2 event, Oculus Rift has this week announced the schedule of speakers and presentations attendees can expect to enjoy during the three-day conference.

Oculus Connect 2 is our second annual developer conference where engineers, designers, and creatives from around the world come together to learn about the future of the Oculus platform and push virtual reality forward. This year’s Connect will feature keynotes from Brendan Iribe, Michael Abrash, and John Carmack, plus everything developers need to know to launch on the Rift and Gear VR.

At last year’s inaugural Connect, nearly 1,000 developers attended engineering and design sessions, showcased their projects, connected with fellow developers, and experienced the Crescent Bay prototype for the first time. As a result of the community’s incredible work, virtual reality is poised to transform gaming, storytelling, film, communication, and much more.

For the full schedule of the presentation at this years Oculus Connect 2 event jump over to the official website via the link below. But unfortunately if you don’t already have an invitation or registered to attend you will need to wait until next year as registration has now been officially closed by Oculus.

Nasa to Develop Star Trek-Style ‘Tractor Beam

Nasa has joined hands with an American technology company to develop a Star Trek-style ‘tractor beam’ that can manipulate objects in space.

The tractor beam would be able to attract one satellite to another or drive them apart, using electromagnetic energy. The technology could also divert dangerous space debris that may threaten spacecraft.

Nasa has teamed up with Arx Pax, a California company that turned Marty McFly’s levitating skateboard from the film ‘Back to the Future’ into reality.

The Hendo Hoverboard relies on engines that induce an opposing magnetic field below it, causing it to lift off the ground, ‘The Times’ reported.

Drawing on the same technology, the team aims to create a magnetic tethering device that could be used to capture CubeSats – lightweight micro-satellites measuring up to 10 square centimetres – and join them together, increasing their capacity to collect data.

“We’re confident and excited about the possibilities,” Luke Murchison, a project manager at Nasa’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, said.

“Our collaboration marks a significant milestone for Arx Pax,” said Greg Henderson, co-founder and CEO at Arx Pax.

“It’s exciting to work hand-in-hand with Nasa’s brilliant team of scientists and engineers. We’re thrilled about the potential impact we can make together,” Henderson said.

Nasa’s New Horizons Probe Begins Beaming Pluto Data to Earth

Seven weeks after New Horizons sped past the Pluto system to study the unexplored world, the mission team has begun the intensive downlinking of the massive data the spacecraft collected and stored on its digital recorders.

The process moved into high gear on September 5 with the entire downlink taking about one year to complete.

“These images, spectra and other data types that are going to help us understand the origin and the evolution of the Pluto system for the first time,” said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern fr om the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.

“It is the best datasets, the highest-resolution images and spectra, the most important atmospheric datasets, and more. It’s a treasure trove,” he added in a Nasa statement.

Even moving at light speed, the radio signals from New Horizons containing data need more than four and a half hours to cover the three billion miles to reach Earth.

Since late July, New Horizons has only been sending back lower data-rate information collected by the energetic particle, solar wind and space dust instruments.

The pace picked up considerably on September 5 as it resumed sending flyby images and other data.

During the data downlink phase, the spacecraft transmits science and operations data to Nasa’s Deep Space Network (DSN) of antenna stations, which also provide services to other missions, like Voyager.

“The New Horizons mission has required patience for many years, but from the small amount of data we saw around the Pluto flyby, we know the results to come will be well worth the wait,” added Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist from the Johns Hopkins University.

The team also plans to continue posting new, unprocessed pictures from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on the New Horizons project website each Friday.

New Smartphone App May Alleviate Motion Sickness Symptoms

A smartphone app that applies a small electric current to the scalp through a headset may soon be used to alleviate sea sickness and other kinds of motion nausea, scientists say.

The cause of motion sickness is still a mystery but a popular theory among scientists says it is to do with confusing messages received by our brains from both our ears and eyes, when we are moving.

Thanks to a new treatment being developed by scientists, the misery of motion sickness could be ended within five to ten years, researchers said.

Around three in ten people experience hard-to-bear motion sickness symptoms, such as dizziness, severe nausea, cold sweats, and more, they said.

Research from Imperial College London shows that a mild electrical current applied to the scalp can dampen responses in an area of the brain that is responsible for processing motion signals.

Doing this helps the brain reduce the impact of the confusing inputs it is receiving and so prevents the problem that causes the symptoms of motion sickness.

This technique offers a safe and effective intervention that is likely to be available for anyone to buy, in the future, researchers said.

“We are confident that within five to ten years people will be able to walk into the chemist and buy an anti-seasickness device. It may be something like a tens machine that is used for back pain,” said Dr Qadeer Arshad from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, who led the research.

“We hope it might even integrate with a mobile phone, which would be able to deliver the small amount of electricity required via the headphone jack. In either case, you would temporarily attach small electrodes to your scalp before travelling – on a cross channel ferry, for example,” said Arshad.

In the study, volunteers wore electrodes on their heads for about 10 minutes. They were then asked to sit in a motorised rotating chair that also tilts to simulate the motions that tend to make people sick on boats or roller-coasters.

Following the treatment, they were less likely to feel nauseous and they recovered more quickly.

“The problem with treatments for motion sickness is that the effective ones are usually tablets that also make people drowsy,” said Professor Michael Gresty from Imperial College who collaborated in this study and is a world expert on motion sickness.

The research was published in the journal Neurology.