Netgear Stora Review

Netgear Stora Review - Home Media Network Storage Device. Taking all the complexity out of a network attached storage (NAS) device, the Stora is a very well designed piece of kit. Check out the review.

Supplied by: Netgear


Netgear SPH200D - THE Best Skype Handset

The Netgear SPH200D is a cordless phone that allows you to make calls via Skype without the need to have your PC switched on. Yes, I know I have been bringing you a lot of these different solutions lately, but this offering from Netgear takes things one step further…

OK, so over the past month we have looked at a cordless Skype handset from Belkin, a handset that incorporated wireless calls with a mobile phone from Tovo, and now Netgear have the SPH200D, which is brand new to the market.
The SPH200D allows you to make those all important and often free Skype calls, but it also incorporates a DECT handset, so you can make normal landline calls via your regular provider (eg. BT).

What you get in this package is pretty impressive. You get the handset itself, which is a really nice white and silver affair. It sports a full colour screen, nice backlit buttons, and a four way rocker button. There are additional buttons for intercom, mute and the built in speakerphone. Also in the box you get a receiver module, it looks like a mini ethernet hub. You plug this into a power socket, then one cable goes into your router, or ethernet network, and the other cable connects to a spare phone socket. The last nice addition to this package is a docking station. You can locate this pretty much anywhere in your house, as long as you can plug it in with the supplied power adapter. This dock is where you sit your handset when not in use, and it keeps the juice topped up too.

When the handset first powers up, all you have to do is sign into your Skype account. You then have access to all your contacts, call history, and you can set your status, in exactly the same way as you do on your computer based Skype application. You can also change the ring tones, display brightness and contrast, in pretty much the same way as you would a mobile phone. If you are calling a Skype contact, then the call is free, completely free. Or you can call a regular phone through your Skype account. This is called a SkypeOut call and depending on what subscription or promotion you are on, there may be a small charge.

Now for what makes the SPH200D really useful…>>> the DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Communications) capability. Most households have cordless DECT phones nowadays. The SPH200D has this too and it makes this a really invaluable package. When you dial in a number or choose to call a regular landline or mobile phone from your contacts, you are given an option. You simply select to either make a SkypeOut call or a Landline call. This is brilliant, because now you have the best of both worlds. You can use Skype when it is cheapest for you to do so, and make regular calls when Skype is not the best option.

Before I tell you that you MUST buy this product, just a little snippet about Skype. I am currently on a promotion where I get totally free national calls in the UK for the next six months. If you are not on this promotion then regular Skype works like this.
If you are calling a Skype user, for example someone who has Skype on their Mac or PC, then the call is free. However, if you are calling a mobile, landline or an international number, then you will be charged. You basically have to keep your Skype credit topped up. The rates are very good though, especially on international calls.
There is also a new service called Skype Pro. An initial 5 month subscription will cost £9.20 which includes approximately £3.40 of calling credit, after the 5 months introductory period is over £1.50 per month is deducted from your Skype credit.
The Pro benefits are that you only pay a 3p connection fee per call to UK landlines, with nothing extra for the minutes you use. You also get free voicemail, plus a discount on a SkypeIn number. The regular Skype-to-Skype computer based calls remain free.

OK, so enough on Skype, back to the Netgear SPH200D. This is the best combination product I have seen so far and it has got me really excited. Since I have had it to review it has worked flawlessly and has not failed me once. The design is awesome, with a crisp glossy white finish. You can even expand the system with up to three additional SPH150D handsets (£65-£70), so you can have Skype and DECT in every room. The average street price is around £105 though I have seen it dip under the £100 mark if you shop around. This pricing is very good and buys you a top class product that is not only a real pleasure to use, but will also save you a lot of money.

Product: Netgear SPH200D
UK Street Price: £105 (UK average)
Supplied by: Netgear, Inc.
Contact: +44 (0)1344 458200
Link to product datasheet.

Netgear DG834N Review

We all want extra speed, it doesn’t matter how fast a human can actually read a web page or surf the ever expanding internet, when we see the new offering of ‘Super-uber 500 Megabit Broadband’ we sign up before even looking at the price. We want to download that movie (legal download of course) and boast to our friends how it download in just ten seconds. For the rest of us, who want to be productive in our daily work, of course speed is important, but so is stability of service and, if you use a laptop, wireless speed is also right up there on the top of the list.

Often referred to as 802.11x where ‘x’ can be an a, b or g, the differing speeds are not often noticeable, but a new offering has been around for a little while now, in the format of ‘draft 802.11n’ and we take a look at Netgear’s DG834N which offers this, plus a whole lot more. Before I continue I should make a clarification about the ‘draft’ statement. This is because 802.11n is not a standard yet, the final specification has yet to be carved into stone, so things may change. Some say some devices may become redundant if things in the final 802.11n change too much, but I say in this day and age, any changes made would most definitely be available as a firmware update.

So, the DG834N falls into Netgear’s ‘RangeMax Next’ range and is offered alongside various other devices that compliment the new speed offering. These include a wireless notebook adapter (WN511B) and a wireless PC adapter (WN311B) which we have here to test as well. It is only really when you use these in conjunction with the DG834N that you will benefit from all the new improvements on offer.
However, you can use this device with your current set-up as it does offer compatibility with 802.11b & g.

Speed Demon
So the new speed increases promise up to 270Mbps when used with the relevant adapter, compared to 11Mbps on 802.11b and 54Mbps on 802.11g, so a very worthwhile jump. In practice and without getting to technical, I found downloads over wireless to offer on average a twofold improvement, dependent on the position of my PC (with WN311B adapter installed). A handy table below shows all the different protocols and what speeds they have to offer... to download the full review click here.

Product supplied by Netgear, Inc.
Contact: +44 (0)1344 458200
Average street price: £93.88
Link to product.
Link to product datasheet.

Netgear HDXB101 Powerline Review

For a long time now I have either found myself tethered to a desktop computer or relying on a wireless connection. Being a long time Apple user, I have enjoyed reliable wireless connections with the more often than not built in airport extreme. Using a PC occasionally, I stumbled across wireless adaptors and almost lost all my hair in the painful process of setting them up.

Many users want a simple solution, without running metres and metres of wires throughout their homes and offices. Netgear have stumped up the technology with their HDXB101 Powerline Ethernet Starter Kit.

Being a long time Netgear user I knew that these devices have been available for a while now, but what distinguishes the HDX Powerline series is the top transfer speed of 200Mbs (megabytes per second). They work by using your mains cabling to transfer data, so you have no messy long runs of wiring to do. In this review I will be looking at a real world scenario, giving you real world results. Although I have a networking background I have tried to approach this from a layman's perspective, so I hope this helps the majority of readers.

So, straight out of the box the HXDB101 kit consists of everything you need to get started. Two HDX101 plug units, two ethernet cables, a resource CD (which I did not even need to use) and an instruction sheet. Extra plug units are also available separately.
To test the units I used an dual core Intel iMac, an Apple MacBook and a G4 Powermac, with a PC thrown in for good measure (more about that later).

Set up is very simple, I know we should all read instructions, but I was very eager to see how easy this was. So I plugged one unit in to the mains socket in my office, connected the ethernet cable to the netgear unit and the other end into my ethernet switch. My switch is also a Netgear, but you can use any brand. The other unit was purposely plugged into another socket on the ground floor, physically as far away as possible from my switch. With both units switched on I had to wait about 20 seconds before a connection was established. There are three LED’s on each unit, one shows power, the other shows a powerline network connection and the third shows network connection (steady light) and activity (flashing light)... to download the full review click here.

Product supplied by Netgear, Inc.
Contact: +44 (0)1344 458200
Average street price: £130
Link to product.
Link to product datasheet.