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Updated 8/9/2008

Topical Index: Broadband Home Labs

This page provides a topical index to material on this website covering

  • how we use our own home and condo as a living lab
  • our tests and evalutions of some of the broadband technologies we use in our home

The Broadband Home Labs section of this website describes qualitatively what itís like to use these technologies at home, and provides the quantitative results of our tests.

Pinnacle: HDTV In a Flash Drive (BBHR 5/15/2008)

  • We tested a Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick, a high-definition PC tuner for broadcast digital TV in a package the size of a flash drive.

Broadband Condo Update--We've Got VPN! (BBHR 7/29/2007)

  • More than two years ago, we started setting up a virtual private network (VPN) between our Florida vacation condo and our production network at home. We're delighted to report that we finally got it working earlier this month.

High-Definition Media Networking--Our Game Plan (BBHR 6/4/2007)

  • Second-generation networking technologies are finally starting to reach the market, and we're about to subject them to the same kind of in-home testing we did nearly five years ago on the first generation. We're planning to augment our quantitative throughput testing with qualitative observations of networked high-definition video.

Media Networking 3--How Did We Live Without DigitalDeck? (BBHR 6/19/2006)

  • We've been searching for a good way to distribute video around our house. We've wanted to view content coming from a device in one room on a screen in a different room. DLNA addresses one piece of the problem: making digitally-stored content available on any device. But what about video from legacy devices like PVRs and DVD players? DigitalDeck isn't perfect, but we wouldn't want to live without it.

Initial Impressions -- DigitalDeck and Nokia 770 (BBHR 5/14/2006)

  • We have been following DigitalDeck for more than two years, and are delighted to be testing their system in our house. In a first impression, we report on a product that lets you share and play video stored on DVDs, PVRs and PCs on any TV, anywhere in the house. We also report on the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, a tiny but high-quality Internet terminal.

Media and Broadband In Our Condo: Some Answers, More Questions (BBHR 3/6/2006)

  • Between August 2005 and January 2006, we completely remodeled our condo, tearing out some walls and installing new wiring throughout. This was a perfect opportunity to consider what wiring and systems we should install to support networked media and communications--video, audio, data and telephone services--both for now and for the future. We uncovered some answers--and more questions.

Progress With Our Broadband Condo (BBHR 10/17/2005)

  • Here's an update on transforming our Sanibel retreat to prepare for the digital future. Setting up broadband and wireless networking for multiple PCs was trivial compared to all the decisions that had to be made in choosing cabling and equipment for both analog and digital audio and video. With many things in transition, like the move toward digital TV and the lack of a two-way CableCard, we've made our best guesses at how to future proof what we're putting in the walls.

Preparing Our Condo for the Digital Future (BBHR 9/13/2005)

  • We're into the second phase of preparing our Florida condo for the digital future. As part of a complete remodeling, we're pulling new wires through the walls and installing new video, audio, data and telephone equipment and services. We found it isn't easy to decide what to do in the midst of the transition from analog to digital media.

Planning Our "Broadband Condo" (BBHR 5/23/2005)

  • We recently added a vacation home to the mix of places we spend our time. As with our home, we're equipping our new condo as a comfortable place to work and play with broadband.

Wi-Fi's Leap Forward: Adding MIMO To The Mix (BBHR 3/10/2005)

  • Since we first used Wi-Fi in our home in 2000, the technology has made fantastic strides and the latest generation of devices based on MIMO is another leap forward in both throughput and range. We summarize here the results of our third round of tests of Wi-Fi devices, which showed us how far the technology has progressed.

Wi-Fi Evaluation Round Two (BBHR 2/17/2004)

  • We are updating our earlier evaluation of Wi-Fi products, testing access points and notebook adapters with all three "flavors" of Wi-Fi. Our first report on Round Two establishes a "baseline" for the maximum throughput for each technology. We've seen improvements since our first tests, especially in 802.11g.

Broadband Home Labs -- Smart Display re-visited (BBHR 10/20/2003)

  • Like other new digital devices, you have to use a Smart Display for a while to learn where it fits. Only when our ViewSonic V110 stopped working did we realize it had become part of our lifestyle.

Broadband Home Labs - "Smart Displays" and Nevo Remote Control (BBHR 7/15/2003)

  • We report on our tests of two Smart Displays: ViewSonic's airPanel V110 and V150. The latter includes Nevo for Smart Displays, a universal remote control from Universal Electronics. Our bottom line is that while we were impressed, some improvements would make us more eager to go buy one for ourselves. Unlike our broadband connection, PVRs, Audiotron and digital camera, this hasn't yet met our "we can't live without it" test.

"Wireless Is Magic" -- Our Evaluation of 802.11g Wi-Fi (BBHR 6/17/2003)

  • Our first evaluation report on Wi-Fi products covers 802.11g access points and notebook adapters. Wi-Fi has come a long way since the original 802.11b technology and our experience with current versions is much improved over early products. But we don't think 802.11g yet fulfills all the promises that have been made.

Broadband Home Labs - More on "Smart Displays" (BBHR 6/17/2003)

  • We're now testing two Smart Displays: ViewSonic's airPanel V110 and V150. The latter includes Nevo for Smart Displays, a universal remote control from Universal Electronics.

Our First "Smart Display" (BBHR 5/14/2003)

  • We're testing a ViewSonic airPanel V110 - one of the new wireless networking devices based on Microsoft's "Windows-powered Smart Display" technology. Here are our initial--and favorable--impressions.

More on IP Telephony (BBHR 3/17/2003)

  • We report on our continuing tests of SIP-based IP telephony using VoIP phones from snom and Windows Messenger. We invite our readers to participate in our tests.

Downloading Music and Burning CDs - Legally (BBHR 2/23/2003)

  • We've enjoyed listening to music on our PCs and digital music players. We've added to our enjoyment by learning how to find and download CDs -- legally.

Vonage DigitalVoice Broadband VoIP Service (BBHR 2/23/2003)

  • We report on our experience using DigitalVoice, a low-cost IP telephony service from Vonage, for most of our phone calls during the past few months. It's the first of several reports on SIP telephony for the home.

HomePlug - Problem Solving and More Test Results (BBHR 1/21/2003)

  • We used HomePlug to solve an audio networking problem: how to connect our AudioTron into our PC network when there's no Ethernet outlet near our main audio system. We also report on recent tests of two new ST&T adapters.

HomePlug Powerline Networking - Some Surprises (BBHR 10/8/2002)

  • We completed our in-home tests of HomePlug equipment with two additional USB devices made by ST&T xNetworks and were surprised to find that they performed noticably better than the units in our first series of tests.

HomePlug Powerline Networking - Getting ready for prime time (BBHR 9/9/2002)

  • In our first report (below) we wrote about home powerline networking products coming to market. We follow up with a report on our extensive in-home tests of HomePlug equipment. Although we encountered some first generation glitches, we conclude that HomePlug works well and could play an important role in consumer networking.

Introduction to HomePlug (BBHR 7/31/2002)

  • New products for powerline networking based on the HomePlug specifications are starting to come to market. We provide an introduction to HomePlug and report on visits and interviews with Cogency and Asoka USA. The second report (above) covers our in-home tests of HomePlug equipment.

"Our Broadband Home," Builder Technology Conference, Washington, DC June 2002

  • Our presentation at this conference included a home movie illustrating how we use broadband, networking and digital consumer electronics technologies in our own home.

Broadband Home Labs: Audiotron and AudioStation (BBHR 4/23/2002)

  • We're testing the Turtle Beach AudioTron networked digital music player and its associated AudioStation PC software. It's both a great gadget and a clear demonstration of how the consumer electronics and computer worlds are converging fast.

Broadband Home Labs: ReplayTV 4000 (BBHR 1/21/2002)

  • DVR meets broadband in this device that's attracted both awards and lawsuits. How did ReplayTV 4000 stack up in our broadband home? The 4000 improves on first generation DVR features and promises lots more. It's real, its nifty and its works great, but we can't help but think about all the future potential.

We've Got Broadband!...the expensive way (BBHR 7/31/2001)

  • We had to install a T1 line to get broadband in our home

The Teger-Waks Quasi-Broadband Home (BBHR 4/9/2000)

  • About our home - at the time of this article, we couldn't get broadband