D-Link DIR-813 AC750 Wifi Router

The D-Link DIR-813 AC750 Wireless router is probably the cheapest 802.11ac router on the market today. The router, which retailed for $29.99 on Newegg.com and Amazon.com during the days leading up to Black Friday 2015 was quite the steal. The retail price for this router is $79.99 and for that price it is not a bad router, but its not without its quirks.

Dlink_Dir813-3The router was particularly chosen as a potential replacement router to my tried and trusted Buffalo WHR-HP-G300N DDWRT open router. While the Buffalo continues to chug along with no apparent issues, the desire for a 5Ghz band and newer AC technology drove me to test out this D-Link router.

The 802.11ac frequency is a new one. Over the last decade, we have been exposed to various routers in the 2.4 Ghz frequency that started with a max theoretical speed of 11 mb/s (802.11b), to 54 mb/s (802.11g) and then finally a slew of 150-450 mb/s (802.11n) routers on the market. Each promising faster throughput and more device connectivity with greater range.

In principle, the improvements in wireless technology is real. I’ve personally gone through all the different variations of wireless connectivity since its advent in the early 2000. The current 802.11n, personally think is as good as it gets.

Dlink_Dir813So what is the fascination with 802.11ac, after all all the manufacturers are now bringing out AC routers that claim to improve on an already excellent product for the casual user. Most wireless users would have never had the opportunity to test out the old 802.11a (5Ghz) band that was around in the early 2000’s. The 802.11a never really took off in the Small Office / Home Office market. It did get taken up in the enterprise market. Most devices until the advent of the iPhone 4s could not read 802.11a frequencies, the capabilities were never there. This is for a good reason. Unlike its sibling 802.11b, which operates on the 2.4 Ghz spectrum, 802.11a worked on 5 Ghz. Chip-set costs were higher and the overall range for the throughput was as low as the original 802.11b. In the end wireless devices in the 2.4 Ghz gained universal acceptance.

Fast forward to today, the throughput gained by the 5 Ghz frequencies out pace the already crowded 2.4 Ghz frequencies. With wifi popping up in every house hold, the airwaves are getting more crowded. 802.11ac aims to correct the congestion problem by use of various technologies including beam forming and increased bandwidth.

So back to my D-Link DIR-813 review:
The question asked most often, why is it back in the box. You see, 802.11ac is a great piece of technology. However its also a very new piece of technology. While it can connectDlink_Dir813-2 to virtually all the older frequencies, the benefits of the 802.11ac only comes about if you use it to connect with a device that supports 802.11ac or (the draft 802.11ac). Without which the advanced technology – beam forming and bandwidth increases are a moot point. The maximum theoretical bandwidth provided by this router is 300Mbps on 2.4 Ghz and 433 Mbps on the 5 Ghz.

In real world testing, the only devices that could benefit in my use case scenario was my iDevices and the Google Nexus Tablet & Google Nexus Player that could see the 5 Ghz frequencies (but are not 802.11ac devices). Segmenting my network to use the upper frequencies for streaming would have helped if I had a congestion issue, however for my use case scenario, it would have no made a difference. The range of 5 Ghz was also limiting despite the three big antenna’s that make up the router. The 2.4 Ghz range was better suited for my use.

In the end, 802.11ac is a great device, and there is nothing wrong with the D-Link DIR-813 wifi router. It will one day make a good backup router for me. It is just that for most users, the need to upgrade to the latest and greatest is unnecessary. Your requirement for a new router could easily be satisfied by a cheaper 802.11n router. Unless you plan on upgrading all your devices to use the 802.11ac chip-set, there is no benefit to upgrading to a new routers for the casual user.

Forbes wrote an excellent article on 802.11ac and its benefits. It is well worth the read.

To purchase this router click on our Amazon Link.

Mophie Juice Pack Air – Long Term Test

During CES 2014, Gizmo Scoop was provided samples of Mophie Juice Pack Air for review.

Mobile is a very crowded and competitive space to introduce a new product. At CES 2014, no less than 10 different manufacturers were hawking iPhone battery cases. The designs were unique but they all provided one common feature. Extra battery life.

Mophie, is one of the larger manufacturers in this space. Having been to the market first with their iPhone battery cases. The Juice Pack line includes the Helium (80% battery life), Air Mophie_JuicePack_Air_Red(100% battery life) and Plus (120% battery life). Each of the products within the line provide extra talk time (or game time) when running low.

The Juice Pack Air that was provided to Gizmo Scoop was noted to be very well designed. Unlike the Juice Pack Helium, which is coated with a slightly slippery plastic, the Juice Pack Air is coated with a slightly rubberized and snug fitting exterior. One cant help see how much more well engineered the Juice Pack Air is to the Juice Pack Helium. The differences between the two models extend beyond the battery life. The Juice Pack Air has enclosed buttons versus the exposed buttons on the Juice Pack Helium.

Gizmo Scoop editors ended up buying a Juice Pack Helium for comparison A-B testing. Our long term test has proved that the Juice Pack Helium cannot hold up to the Juice Pack Air in durability and toughness. When accidental dropped, our iPhones protected by the Juice Pack Air held up much better than the Helium. Both devices protected the phone very well, neither iPhone had a broken screen. But the damage on the external case revealed which was tougher.

On the positive side the case is perfect for a klutz like me. On the downside the case does require thinner headphone connectors to work. The iPhone headset would barely fit, and necessiated the use of the headphone jack extension that Mophie provides.

The Mophie case worked great, and continues to work. Though its battery life after close to 16 months of use has reduced by half. The phone is heavily used and the fact that it still operates in late 2015 is amazing. Needless to say this editor of Gizmo Scoop just placed an order for a new Mophie Juice Pack Air for his aging iPhone5s.

Want to order a Mophie Juice Pack Air? Follow us to our amazon link

PhoneSuit Iphone 5/5s Battery Case – Long Term Review

PhoneSuit_Iphone_CaseIn the crowded mobile battery case market PhoneSuit is probably a brand you would not readily recognize. In CES 2014, Gizmo Scoop was given a tester PhoneSuit Elite iPhone 5/5s battery case.

This is the same year that Gizmo Scoop received the Mophie Juice Pack Air and the EnerPlex Surfr phone battery cases. Among the three mobile battery cases received, PhoneSuit was probably the most underwhelming to look at. Its matte black case made it really stylish and yet hard to find in the center console of a car with black interior.

GizmoScoop found the case very well made. Each of the manufacturers provided a different form factor to inserting the phone. Of the three, PhoneSuit was the easier to get in and out. It also was the easiest to connect an headphone to. The design is so simple that we were surprised that the other manufactures had not considered it.

PhoneSuit’s case is extremely simple to operate. All the buttons are fully exposed (unlike the Mophie Juice Pack Air and the EnerPlex Surfr) like the Mophie Juice Pack Helium. The battery system could be turned on and off by a simple button on the back. The sleek looks
PhoneSuit_Iphone_Case2 made its way to operations too. PhoneSuit had a 80% battery life, meaning your iDevice could be recharged from 20% to full. The overall life of the battery was good, but it seemed the overly heavy use by this editors girlfriend drained its lifespan by half. By October of 2014, the battery was down to roughly 50% of life. By February of 2015, the battery in the PhoneSuit was down to 25%.

The battery life may be an statistical outlier, as this editors girlfriend is a huge candy crush addict. So much so that the battery would get charged individually when drained. One thing we noticed was the way PhoneSuit charged the phone vs. other manufacturer’s whose products were tested at the same time. The PhoneSuit case would charge itself first before charging the phone. EnerPlex and Mophie charged the phone first before the case.  This meant that the PhoneSuit case was faster to charge separately from the phone than charged together with a 2 amp charger.

EnerPlex Surfr iPhone 5/5s Solar Charging Battery Case

enerplex_surfr2
Enerplex is a division of Ascent Solar Technologies Inc. Ascent is known for their highly efficient thin-film solar modules (otherwise known as CIGS (copper Iridium Gallium (di)Selenium). Enerplex brand products include portable solar battery chargers as well as battery packs for mobile devices.

When EnerPlex came up with the brilliant idea of combining an iPhone 5/5s battery case with their solar panels for recharge capabilities, they had hit on a jackpot. Integrating a CIGS thin solar panel with a battery pack case is an ideal solution to satisfying the energy sapping vampires that are characteristic to mobile devices.

Gizmo Scoop was provided a sample EnerPlex Surfr device to review during CES 2014. It must be noted that the device was a pre-production model and was not due for retail for another 6-8 months. Due to confidentiality reasons, Gizmo Scoop did not write a public review until the product was launched to the public. However Gizmo Scoop did provide EnerPlex feedback on the device. enerplex_surfr

Gizmo Scoop editors used the device for a period 8 months. During the the time, the build quality of the device deteriorated. The glue holding the outer ‘blue’ ring wore down. Eventually the inserts that correspond to the buttons on the iPhone fell out. The editors super glued the trim ring of the case back but eventually other sections of the trim ring glue deteriorated. At this point Gizmo Scoop editors decided that the build quality issues of the device have to be addressed and contacted EnerPlex.

Outside of the trim ring issue, the device actually worked like promised. The battery life is rated 80% of an iPhone 5s battery (thus recharging your phone from 20% to 100%). The sound quality of the phone was great and the overall build quality of the case is excellent. The solar panel were the only issue. The manufacturer claim of 15 minutes of talk time per hour of recharge was only good if the phone was left in direct sunlight or close enough to direct sunlight. Leaving the phone in the hot sun seemed to drain the battery faster. We noted the case would not charge in office or artificial lighting. This maybe an issue with CIGS panels.
Overall we were very pleased with the device. It is our understanding that EnerPlex fixed the trim ring issues and the product is now available for retail purchase. The device is a good competitor to Mophie and PhoneSuit.

If you would like to purchase a EnerPlex Surfr, follow our link to Amazon