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CES 2012


Satellite Broadband

I was impressed by my demo of ViaSat's Exede satellite Internet service. Satellite has always been a choice-of-last-resort given its high price, low speed and high latency. ViaSat's new ViaSat-1 satellite changes all that, enabling a 12 Mbps down / 3 Mbps up service starting at $50/month.

ViaSat Exede satellite Internet coverage map

ViaSat Exede satellite Internet coverage map

I was expecting to be disappointed by the demo, but was pleasantly impressed. Web page loads were fast and an HD YouTube Star Trek trailer played clearly and without a glitch. Even the brief Skype call to ViaSat's NOC had both clear audio and video and no more lag than I get with my 5 Mbps / 768 Kbps DSL connection.

The catch is that the service is metered with 7.5, 15 and 25 GB monthly plans that cost $50, $80 and $130 respectively. Installation is around $150 and there is a two-year service commitment. And, of course, if you're a gamer, this isn't for you, given the high latency. Still, if your current broadband isn't making you happy and you have a clear view of the southern sky, Exede might be for you. Check out Sean Gallagher's Ars' article if you'd like more background.

Other Stuff

QNAP - Their announcement of a new series of NASes powered by a new Atom chipset turns out to be a bit premature, since the specific chipset is still undecided. The posters on the booth wall touted the TS-X69 series. Tucked into the announcement was a mention of the JB-1200U-RP expansion cabinet for the TS-x79 series.

IP Cameras - It seems like small 720p HD networked cameras were everywhere. What sets DropCam HD apart is its small size, built-in two-way audio and IR illumination and no-computer-required setup and cloud-based management.

Dropcam HD

Dropcam HD

Recording (or as Dropcam calls it, "DVR") costs extra, though. Seven day recording for one camera costs $9.95/month for the first Dropcam and $4.95/month for each additional. Thirty day recording runs $29.95/month for one camera and $14.95/month for each additional. (Yearly discounts are available). There is no option to record to your own device or any other cloud service. We've got one on preorder to review over on SmallCloudBuilder when it ships at the end of this month.

Home Control - In addition to its "N900" router, Belkin also unveiled its rebranding and new logo and WeMo home automation line. The first two products are the Home Control Switch (F7C027fc) for $49.99 and Motion Sensor (F7C028fc) for $59.99 (both MSRP), which start shipping in March. Upcoming products include a baby monitor, garage door opener and door lock. The WeMo's all communicate via ZigBee wireless and, of course, will have an iOS app (no Android) to talk to.

Belkin WeMo

Belkin WeMo

In other home automation news, ThinkEco's modlet that I've been trying to get hold of since I saw it at CES 2010 is finally available to the public after being trialed with a few power companies. You can get it right now only from BestBuy online for $50, which is where our review unit is coming from. This one also is Zigbee based, and lets you track power usage of whatever it's plugged into in addition to letting you control it.

thinkeco's modlet

thinkeco's modlet

AirStash - The Maxell stand in North Hall had a small crowd checking out its AirStash wireless storage expansion flash drive. The new "A02" model has a USB 2.0 port, built-in 802.11b/g/n AP and SD card slot. It also includes a built-in web interface, media server and WebDAV server and an app that lets you read and write files to the places where Apple lets you go in its locked-down iOS.

Maxell AirStash A02

Maxell AirStash A02

There are two models that only differ in the bundled SD card: 8 GB for $150 ; 16 GB for $180 . You can get both at Amazon now.

MoCA 2.0 - Entropic was featuring MoCA 2.0 products at its booth, where I spied a NETGEAR MoCA 2.0 bridge. But I couldn't get any information on ship dates or pricing from NETGEAR. So MoCA fans waiting to get hold of 2.0's higher throughput may have a long wait.

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