You know how I’m always starting my stories with “What problem are you trying to solve?” Before you decide whether to go for a traditional single router or one of these fancy new mesh routers, you really should think about the problem you want to solve, because this is definitely not a one size fits all problem.
In August of 2016, I bought a Netgear Nighthawk X8 router to replace my aging Airport Extreme. This was before the current mesh router craze happened, and I’ve wondered for a long time whether I made a mistake buying this router too early. Maybe I should have waited until the mesh routers matured.
I met with Netgear at CES and happened to mention I was thinking of testing a range extender with my Nighthawk X8. The rep told me to not even consider buying one. He said that the only good solution for dead spots in your home is to go with a mesh router. I told him I was interesting in testing out their mesh router system. Netgear was kind enough to send me their Orbi AC3000 mesh router to fly off against my Netgear Nighthawk X8.
It’s another big big show, with four CES interviews with Analogix SlimPort video connectors, Netgear about their outdoor Orbi, Acronis backup solution, and L’Oréal’s UV Sense product. We’ve also got a photography tip by Rally about digital zoom vs cropping (followed by some fun experiments by me) and a review of the free iOS app Klok by Helma. Bart brings us up to speed with the latest on Security Bits.
Security Medium 1 – WPA WiFi Encryption Develops KRACKs
This week started with a big security news announcement (responsibly disclosed, which is nice). Security researchers at the Belgian university KU Leuven revealed a collection of related attacks against the WPA2 protocol (WiFi Protected Access version 2). The problem at the root of these attacks was not related to any specific implementation of the spec, but with the spec itself, so every manufacturer who implemented the spec correctly would have introduced these vulnerabilities into their WiFi drivers. Because you have to give a bug a fancy name to get any media attention these days, it was given the somewhat strained pseudo-acronym KRACKs, from key reinstallation attacks.
We’re not going to go into the technical minutia here, but I have included links to some good explanations below. I do want to give a high-level overview of the problem though.
George from Tulsa is back with some ideas on what might be causing Denise’s high bandwidth usage. It’s a great list of things to check out. Denise comes back with a great success story on the issue and then a walkthrough of her recent upgrade of her Mac mini to an SSD with some great advice. I get a word in edgewise with these two and talk about how I added language support to Podfeet.com and how we FINALLY got our AppleTV working on hotel WiFi so Steve could watch the Olympics.
Well Castaways, it was time to replace our router.
Our ISP caps our bandwidth to 450 GB per month and several times a year they assert we use double this or more. We don’t stream a lot of movies, our cloud data is pretty static, and we have a stupidly complex password, so this runaway bandwidth is a mystery I cannot solve with our aged Airport Express router.
We also need the ability to manage a lot of WiFi devices.
The wiring closet is at the far back of the house, which has always caused connectivity problems in the front of the house.
This week we’ll learn how awesome Smile, the makers of TextExpander really is (in spite of last week) and how Ditto can give you notifications without a smart watch. We’ll learn how you really NEED a wicked cool new router like the Netgear X8 5300ac, and Bart is back with Security Bits.