November 2010 - Posts
Some of you might be saying, “huh?” and wondering what I’m talking about. If you are a geek, you probably know that the IPv4 universe of addresses is shrinking and latest estimates are that the IPcalypse will occur in about 30 days. You can follow this on Facebook.
What does this mean? At some point in time, a new web site you want to visit or new web service you want to use may not have an assigned IPv4 address and be reachable over IPv6 only.
Is your ISP working towards insuring that you can connect to these sites? Mine sure is. Comcast has been working on this for a long time. Of the available technologies, 6 to 4 and native dual stack seem to me to be the most robust. But the catch is that in your home, you need equipment that has implemented one of these technologies, starting with the router at the edge of your network.
I look around and I see a sorry state of affairs for the home user, where there are so few capable devices (let alone firmware upgrades for top of the line dual band wireless routers) that it would appear that the router vendors are planning on forcing consumers to buy entirely new products, most likely to be announced at CES2011.
- Apple’s Dual Band N Airport Extreme seems the farthest along in out of the box features with firmware 7.5.1,and it is a great performer, provided you are willing to forego things like MAC address cloning, and can limit yourself to 50 clients and not being able to manage via a web browser.
- D-Link’s flagship DIR-855 has no apparent support for configuring IPv6 features (although their DIR-825 B2 hardware is rumored to have some IPv6 support, but I’ve ordered and returned 4 of them, having received the initial hardware version each time).
- Netgear’s flagship WNDR3700 (I believe it has recently been rebadged with a new product number) also shows no sign of IPv6 support.
- Linksys’s E3000 (rebadged WRT610N) also shows no signs of official IPv6 support (and it is the worst performer of the bunch).
So, yes, there is open source firmware for some router lines, but the typical home user shouldn’t have to deal with a geeky upgrade and the quirks.
My advice if you are in the market for a new router? Don’t be pulled in by those door buster holiday specials.. You are going to need to purchase a new router in the next 18 months or so unless the vendors ante up and do the right thing.
When my older low end downstairs printer needed all ink cartridges replaced at the same time, I realized that buying a new printer would actually be cheaper.
HP has been trumpeting its latest crop of ink jet printers that feature ePrint, a technology that assigns an email address to each printer and enables you to send mail via a HP web service that is supposed to print documents to your printer from anywhere in the world using email. I had a $50 BestBuy gift card and they (and HP) are selling the D110 ePrinter for $70. That was a no brainer for me.
Too bad ePrint needs constant care and feeding by the end user to actually work. Here’s my quick review:
The Good: Printer setup over 802.11n was a breeze, as the printer includes WPS. The printer immediately discovered an available firmware update and I applied the update (and had to reconfigure). I setup the ePrint mail list (which lets you restrict who can send jobs to the printer) and added the email address to my contacts. Next, I used my iPad and was easily able to discover and print a page in Safari.
The Bad: Normal TCP/IP network printing works as expected, except for buggy 64 bit drivers that need to be reinstalled after a computer restart. This has existed for at least a year and HP thinks reinstalling every restart is an acceptable solution, apparently. Many of their printer support pages all point to the same KB/FAQ so stating. Also, HP is using the Bonjour protocol on the printer, which enables the IOS functionality. (It is too bad that Apple decided to use their own proprietary protocol, but it is good news for folks like HP who hope to sell new network printers. I assume that the reason that printers connected to local computers work with the new iPxx print function is that Bonjour is installed (and required) on the host computer.
The Ugly: The real travesty is that the ePrint functionality that links the printer to the HP Web Service is badly broken and these printers lose their connection to the Web Service (but ALL other functions continue to work) and that HP has been aware of this since at least August, as evidenced by this 18 page (and growing) thread. HP interns patrolling the forum have marked “power cycle the router or the printer” as an acceptable solution, but there has been no official reply from HP tech support OR a commitment to fix this.
In Conclusion: I suspect that HP needed to release and promote a not ready for primetime function to coincide with the launch of IOS 4.2.1 which enabled printing from an iPxx device. HP’s current list of ePrint enabled printers as of 11/22/2010 includes:
•HP Officejet Pro 8500A e-All-in-One Printer series - A910 for customers worldwide
•HP Officejet 7500 Wide Format All-in-One Printer Series- E910 for customers worldwide
•HP Officejet 6500A e-All-in-One Printer - E710
•HP Photosmart D110 series for North America customers
•HP Photosmart B110 series for Asia and Europe customers
•HP Photosmart B210 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart Premium C310 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart C410 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart Ink Advantage K510 series for Asia and Europe customers
•HP Photosmart eStation e-All-in-One Printer C510 series for North America and Europe customers
•HP Envy eAll-in-One Printer D410 series for customers world wide
Recommendations: If you need a replacement printer or especially in you want iPxxx print functionality, and can live with having to reinstall drivers on 64 bit Windows at inconvenient times, check out one of these printers. If you are looking for ePrint, it isn’t ready for prime time.
Yes, you read that correctly. The iPxxx devices don’t natively support DLNA functionality, which rules out using Windows 7 Play To”, so I decided to see what could be done, at least as a proof of concept, to try to get this working.
The secret sauce was finding an app called PlugPlayer and installing it on my iPhone and iPad and seeing my iPxx devices show up in the Network Window .
I was intrigued, and not expecting much success, used Windows Explorer, right clicked a music file and saw not only my TV and Sonos Players listed, but my iPhone (via PlugPlayer) as well.
Then, the next task was finding which file formats would be supported.
All my ripped music is now mp3, as I discovered long ago that almost all devices supported this format.
Clearly, Windows 7 can now stream music to my iPxxx devices.
My individual jpg image files also presented no problems. Playing a picture stream to my iPad (did not try the iPhone) sort of worked. A sort of intermediary screen was displayed on the iPad with a button labeled “Done” after each image displayed. I could either wait and the next image would display or push this button to see the next image. So this needs some work or tweaking.
Video, on the other hand, was tough. Neither dvr-ms or wtv are apparently supported by my iPxx devices/Plug Player and it appeared that while mp4 files work, there is no buffered instant play and you need to wait for the whole file to be loaded in memory. So, small video files are do-able, but I don’t see any transcoding taking place or any live streaming. I couldn’t get a small mp4 video file (about 1/3 Gig) to actually play without intervention. For proof of concept I took an old unprotected dvr-ms and converted in to a mp4.
I suspect the file was transferring in the background and being cached locally on the device. I actually closed the Play To window on the computer. Five minutes it showed up on the device on a Playlist screen, where I could push the play button and watch the video clip.
My conclusions – the existing PlugPlayer app is fine for music streaming using Windows 7 Play To, but not so good for images and videos. Still, there is now proof that it is possible to Play To an iPxx device, which opens up possibilities. I may post a message on the PlugPlayer support forum and see if the developer is interested in pursuing these issue.
If you have experience with this app, suggestions for other DLNA controller iPxx that are better, or comments in general, please post on the DLNA forum on The Green Button.