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Tag Archives: Home Networks

Networking At Home

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I recently attended a preview of Telstra’s latest addition to the Foxtel galaxy of services, adding pay TV channels to its T-Box Digital Video Recorder. That service is initially going to be available only to Telstra Cable customers, rolling out later to its ADSL customers. Access to the network externally is one limiting factor, but there’s another challenge for most homes looking to networked devices, whether they’re digital recorders, Net-connected gaming consoles or just a plethora of plain old humble PCs. There are far more “Internet-Ready” devices around than there used to be, but all of them presume that you’ll have a connection for them to connect to, no matter where in your home you choose to place them.

How do you connect them all up within your home? There’s a couple of choices, but they’re not always all that well understood. Here’s a basic primer to your connection choices once you’ve got an Internet connection (of any type) into your home:

Cabled Ethernet:
Pros: Speed. With up to 1GBps (potential), there’s nothing to match having an actual cabled connection to each room that you need access from. In terms of sustained speed, nothing even comes close.
Cons: Physical cables are a pain, and the cost of retro-fitting and cabling your home can be quite high. Anyone building should consider basic Ethernet cabling as a must-have, however.

HomePlug/Powerline:
Pros: Easy installation. Powerline sits in the mid-ground between Cabled and Wireless Internet, using your existing power infrastructure to deliver a cabled connection to your devices. Plug one end in near your router or modem, and the other near your device, and you’re usually good to go. At around $200 for a pair of plugs, it’s much less expensive than Ethernet cabling
Cons: Not all plugs are cross compatible, and some don’t work well (if at all) on powerboards and across power phases in your home or office. Many of the plugs are large and unwieldy, which makes them take over many points all by themselves. Often the only way to work out if Powerline products will work for you is to plug them in and see.

WiFi:
Pros: Ubiquity. WiFi is all over most notebooks, many games consoles and is often available as an add-on for “Internet-Ready” televisions. There’s no unsightly wires to trip over, installation costs are typically very low, and most wireless routers (you probably got one from your ISP) can accommodate more wireless gadgets than you’ll ever own.
Cons: Access can be highly variable depending on a number of environmental factors that can leave some houses with WiFi “black spots”. Despite the highly promoted speed numbers on the boxes of most WiFi routers, real world speeds are typically a lot slower than their wired siblings. This is less of an issue for Web surfers and emailers, but for watching online video or playing games it can quickly hobble even the fastest connection.


What is TiVo and How Can it Connect to Your Home Network?

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TiVo is a digital device that connects to the TV and lets users digitally record television programs onto a hard disk. It is a device that very much plays a similar role to the traditional VCR only it is digital and it has many more useful features. TiVo is modern and takes full advantage of today’s digital technology.

When you use the TiVo device and service, the beginning of actually using the service is searching through scheduled TV programs that are displayed on the main screen. TiVo gives you a full and complete listing of all scheduled television programming. From there, you are able to select the program/s that you are interested in recording. TiVo is controlled by remote control only and the actual TiVo unit/device has no buttons on it. TiVo comes with huge amounts of storage and it allows you to set TiVo to record a whole series from beginning to end in just one setting.

How to Connect TiVo to your Home Network
Historically, TiVo was actually developed by accident when developers were working on creating a new type of home network. As development progressed, the project became what we now know as TiVo rather than a home network. TiVo does however still contains some of its original great home networking features, and so TiVo users are able to very easily connect their TiVo devices to their home networks.

TiVo DVRs comes with USB ports which are used to connect with Ethernet and WiFi adapters. This also allows TiVo to be connected to home networks for file transfers and other shared resources between the two. Even more features are available when you use the Internet and specifically the TiVo Central Online web site. Users can go to this web site when they are not at home and schedule the TiVo unit to record programs while they are not home. So, if they are not at home or unexpected plans come up, they won’t miss their favorite programs.

TiVo’s compatibility with home networks means that file sharing and transfer of audio/visual can be done quite easily. If you have several TiVo units in your home, programs that you have recorded can be transferred easily between units. Furthermore, if you want to move a file from TiVo to your home computer or photos from your computer to be viewed via TiVo it can all be done via your usual home network.

TiVo was first made available in the United States. Next it became available in Canada and it has now reached Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It is not long before this service is available throughout the world.


Home NAS devices

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Network-Attached Storage (NAS) provides a way to store files remotely and to back up files on your computer, protecting you from loss of data due to a damaged hard drive among other things. A NAS is a computer that is attached to a network with the sole purpose of providing storage to other devise that might be attached to the network.

A NAS is usually dedicated and set aside only for use as a storage device even though it can often potentially be used as a normal computer and perform other tasks. NAS devices are usually controlled through the network using remote access or they can usually have a keyboard attached to them. When fully utilized, they ensure that you will not lose data even if your computer breaks down beyond repair.

The concept of NAS was originally developed for the business/work environment, however increasingly people are making more use of the technology in their homes as part of their home networks. There are all types of reasons that a person might want to use a NAS device as a part of their home network set up. Home movies, films, music and family photographs that are in electronic/digital format can all take up a huge amount of space on personal hard drives. When your files are placed on a NAS, you have the option of accessing any of these files from any computer on your home network. This can provide you with a huge amount of convenience and entertainment at your fingertips.

NETGEAR currently offers the ReadyNAS N+ series of storage devices. Each of these offers continuous monitoring of your computers and they are capable of backing up your files on a regular schedule. NETGEAR describes this technology as providing home users with enterprise level technology in their own homes. Your NAS can connect to several computers on your home network simultaneously, and devices like digital cameras can be plugged directly into a NAS for the quick download and storage of photos.

A NAS works perfectly for the increasingly popular netbook computers that are more popular than ever. Netbooks contain very little storage space because they are designed to connect with the Internet and other WANs rather than store data. Connecting a netbook to a NAS enables you to make full use of any resources stored on the NAS using your netbook as the interface (keyboard and monitor) to the stored files.


The Benefits of a Wireless Network in your Home

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These days, most families have some form of Internet access in the homes. A decade ago, there may have been just one member of the average family that spent time online… if anyone at all. In today’s average family, every family member wants to have access to the Internet. This is true not only for the adults but for the youngest child as well. Social networking web sites and gaming sites have peaked the interest of children.

For most people, the current trend is to watch TV and to browse the Internet at the same time interactively, visiting the web sites that are promoted during television programs. A lot of TV programs now refer viewers to their web sites during programming. These web sites are filled with promotions, resources and more information on what they have been watching on television. To add to this, children’s television now also promotes the games that they provide. They even have an element of social networking on these sites for their young viewers.

With such a strong need for every family member to have access to the Internet, it is a good idea to set up a wireless network within your home. Without a network, whether wired or wireless, your only option is to share a single outlet for access to the Internet. This will quickly lead to arguments as family members struggle to prioritize their important work on the Internet over another’s entertainment on the Internet.

If you have a wired network in your home, you will have to run cables throughout the house to give family members access. There are many limitations with this type of set up and Internet access can start to become very complicated for everyone in the house. When a household has a wireless network, all family members can be online at the same time anywhere in the house. This solves a whole host of potential problems.

The great thing about a wireless network is that the signal is usually strong enough for the Internet to be available to everyone in the house regardless as to what room they are in. In general, a wireless signal will cover the complete area of an average-sized house. Users in rooms further away from where the router is located will have a weaker signal than those closer. This will result in slower download times but they will still be able to access the Internet.

If you need assistance setting up a network in your home, call Geeks2U on 1300 433 572 and one of our friendly and reliable technicians will help you.


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