A New Year, CES 2015, and world peace.

It’s been a long while since my last post. Meanwhile another year has passed by … and 2015 is off to an excellent start. A few hours to kill in transit here at the ANA suite lounge at Tokyo Haneda airport, on my way back from CES 2015, and that’s enough time to post a short update – my first for the new year.

First, I’d like to say a big thank you to all who came by our booth at CES. Thank you for the fruitful meetings.

CES2015

CES doesn’t really impress any longer with ground-breaking new technologies. But every year we notice some of the tech trends solidify further with incremental innovations. My biggest takeaways from CES 2015 were:

  • Flat screen TVs will continue to get slimmer and larger, while High Definition screen resolutions will continue to increase into higher definitions. Content will be streamed to these devices, eliminating a lot of the clutter that we used to have around us in our living rooms.
  • Homes will get smarter as we continue to live our lives that get busier by the day. Companies that come into the Smart Home foray with a point-product solution offering will fail. Only those with simple yet smart ecosystems will win eventually, as this will be a game of scalability and simplicity.
  • We make ourselves busier and unhealthier every day, while wishing to live longer. That’s when we seek technology’s help to assist us live a healthier lifestyle. Be it the wearable pulse or heart-rate monitor, or that App which helps you jog, or plates that will measure food and calories, this is a segment where you can expect some really cool developments in the future.
  • Cars will get smarter and driver-less. Be it a simple auto valet parking application or a fully functional driver-less car, we are now seeing the tip of the iceberg of a new segment here.
  • Drones are going to be everywhere, and we will potentially be “printing” them using 3D printers. There are some cool use cases for these drones, the same as robots, but let’s wait and see. I have my own opinion about this segment.
  • Lastly… smartphones are evolving to such an extent that making calls will be the least used application on a smartphone in the very near future. We and our identities will be so closely linked to our smartphones that our next generation children will expect everything in this world to be ‘connected’ to each other, and to be fully controllable from their smartphones.

Be it streaming a 4K video, or controlling all those appliances in our homes, or paying for a high calorie dessert, or monitoring our stats while we jog and burn the calories from that dessert, or driving our cars, or steering our drones… all of the above trends will have some sort of convergence into a smartphone App.

So what am I going to do about all this right now?

I will sit back here at this lounge with my nice hot cup of tea, and watch the news of so many unfortunate things happening around us, especially in Paris. I hope and pray that people will stop all this nonsense and learn to live in peace in this new year.

If our eventual objective is to kill each other for whatever reasons, who are we building all these amazing technologies for? On one hand we want our homes to get smarter, while we ourselves are acting so stupid.

So let’s all live peacefully, respect each other, and value humanity. Let that be our new year resolution.

Does your Wireless Router make a ‘real’ difference?

When my most recent blog post hit facebook, one of my dear friends asked me this in response: “Tell me what diff it makes to consumer….whether he buys a Belkin or Linksys or Motorola router…..as long as his internet provider st[r]eams a good bandwidth”

Now, price is certainly not a concern for him (he works in Wall Street) 🙂 So what makes consumers like him wonder if their Router brand is relevant or not? Simple: many of us don’t know that irrespective of the internet speed (bandwidth) delivered to our homes by our Service Provider, the throttling factor for performance in the home is the Wireless Router.

Let’s say you have a 20Mbps broadband subscription at home (in Singapore you can get 1Gbps fiber broadband for $39/month). Basic applications such as emails, web browsing, listening to online music etc. can be all done pretty well with 1-2Mbps bandwidth. The most bandwidth intensive application in a typical home is video streaming. Even for that, a 720p HD video needs only about 3-4Mbps. If you want to go extreme and stream a Blu-ray quality 3D video that would consume ~10Mbps. Agree, the cloud (server) from where you are downloading a file or streaming a video will also have a bearing on the transfer speed… but all those factors being the same, you should still have sufficient bandwidth left in your internet pipe for your other devices, isn’t it? But then why is it that your YouTube is still buffering? Why are the kids complaining that as soon as the Smart TV in the living room is turned on, the internet access slows down on their study PC, or their facetime chats stutter?

Only one reason: your Wireless Router sucks big time!

If you are using an old technology (Wireless-G, Wireless-N) Router it is highly likely that there is interference with other radio signals in the same 2.4GHz frequency spectrum. No-name cheap Routers use poor quality antennas and electronics which dramatically degrade the performance. Many of these Routers may be using a single antenna configuration (seen in their data sheets as “1×1”) which means, one antenna to transmit and one to receive. This would also mean poor signal strength when multiple Wi-Fi devices are turned on. As many of these off-the-shelf products come from OEM manufacturers they won’t bother to build in any types of QoS (Quality of Service) capabilities into their software. Picture this:  you install the best water supply system and plumbing system in your home, with a large pipe that brings lots of water into the home uninterrupted 24/7. And then you mount a tiny, old, heavily-clogged shower head in your bathroom. Good luck with your shower, isn’t it? 🙂

Industry-leading brands like Linksys and Belkin deliver high performance Routers that use latest Wi-Fi technologies such as Wireless-AC or Dual Band Wireless N. The antennas and electronics used are best-in-class, and there are even multiple antenna configurations such as 3×3 or 2×2 for better transmission and reception of signals. The software inside these Routers are custom-built with QoS enabled. Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers even allow you to choose which device or application in your home should get the bandwidth priority. That’s what will ensure lag-free gaming, jitter-free Netflix movies, buffer-free YouTube, crystal clear Skype/facetime conversations, all at the same time.

There’s one other point worth mentioning here as well. Most of us believe that the home network performance is directly related to internet speed from the Provider. With so many connected devices and multimedia content in our homes these days, what we often forget is that we are not always streaming and consuming content directly off the internet. You might have a desktop PC or hard disc (NAS) at home where you store all your ripped/downloaded movies, TV series episodes, music and other stuff. What if you want to stream them to your Smart TV? Yet another reason why you need a robust and high performance Wi-Fi Router such as a Linksys or Belkin Router at home.

Bottomline:

It doesn’t matter how much you spend every month for your blazing fast internet connection… if you are using a lousy Wi-Fi Router, your home network will suffer. Switch to a Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router today and experience the difference.