Amazon Prime Streaming

Amazon Prime Streaming

Amazon Prime StreamingHow I finally got around the Insufficient Bandwidth Messages on my Samsung Smart TV

 

I am a big fan of Amazon Prime – enough that I cancelled my Netflix subscription a while back and started using Amazon Prime Streaming instead. I have been using Amazon Prime for the last two years just for its many other benefits, particularly the free, two-day shipping on just about everything I order. The video and movie selection appeared to me to be just as good as Netflix so I am now saving a few bucks a month by cancelling my Netflix subscription.

Amazon Prime Streaming with Apple TV

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Dell Inspiron 15

Dell Inspiron 15
Dell Inspiron 15 Model 7579

The Dell Inspiron 15, model 7579 is a is a well-made, 15.6″ laptop. I purchased this to replace the old, Core-2 Duo, 15″ Laptop that I use for business in my classroom at school. Microsoft, in their infamous ways really knows how to bring old hardware down to its knees, make it outdated, and force you to buy something new whether you once believed you ever needed to or not. My old laptop ran just fine until the nagging Windows-10 update finally got the best of it and upgraded it without me ever agreeing to it. Over time, the massive number of Windows-10 upgrades slowed the machine down to the point I could barely use it anyore. This new, 15.6″ Dell Laptop is not only much faster, but makes the laptop more useful in a number of different ways. Before I get to the pros and cons, let me just give you a brief run-down of the hardware specifics on the Dell Inspiron 15-7579, Laptop and a very non-technical explanation of what they do for you: 

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Ethernet over Power with the Netgear Powerline 500

ethernet over powerThe Netgear Powerline 500 uses Ethernet over Power technology to solve wife range problems in the home. Ethernet over Power technology has been around several years. With numerous products on the market designed for the home and small office there is a large selection of competing brands to choose from at a very affordable price. I am a disappointed in myself for not thinking of this sooner. Unlike modern homes today which are built with technology and digital entertainment in mind, my 28-year-old home is not equipped with ethernet jacks in every room. In fact, I am writing this article from my office on the only computer in the house with a wired, ethernet connection. All of the family’s laptops, PC’s, and mobile devices rely on the latest Cable Modem / Router provided by Comcast.

What is Ethernet over Power?

How does the Netgear Powerline 500 Work?

Netgear Powerline 500
Netgear Powerline 500 Adapter

Ethernet over Power (not to be confused with Power over Ethernet or PoE) offers you a rock solid network connection in situations where WIFI just isn’t cutting it in your home or office. With Ethernet over Power  you are provided with two or more RJ45 Network adapters. The Netgear Powerline 500 comes with two adapters, two Ethernet cables, and documentation. One adapter is plugged directly into your wall outlet. An RJ45 Cable is connected between the adapter and your router. The other adapter is connected to the power outlet near the remote PC. An RJ45 cable goes between the adapter and the remote computer’s Ethernet port. Once connected, you have a  rock solid network connection between the wired PC and the router with absolutely no dependence on WIFI range, distance or limitations. The Netgear Powerline 500 works completely independent of your router’s WIFI. Using Ethernet over Power is basically as good as an RJ45 connection.

Why use Ethernet over Power instead of WIFI?

The modem/router combo unit that Comcast provided me is supposedly the very latest and was designed to address the numerous complaints from customers about limited WIFI capabilities around the house. Despite being designed with the very latest WIFI capabilities and adequate, advertised range, the Comcast router still drops connections on other, distant WIFI devices, particularly on my son’s PC which is a fair distance away and separated by a couple of walls and different floor level.  This problem continued even after my son changed his computer from the upstairs bedroom to a closer downstairs bedroom and was well within the acceptable range of the router. His internet performance was extremely show even after trying three different network cards; and even when his WIFI status shows that his connection was rated as excellent. I was about to try a fourth network card when I remembered a similar situation at my school. Teachers relied on various routers throughout the building for WIFI on their laptops. We all had problems with very slow performance and losing our connection. The only exceptions were those laptops that were located in the same room as the router or at the very least on the same floor, in close proximity. In our case, we had to have additional routers installed which involved some additional and somewhat complicated setup from our IT professional. While it might be worthwhile to do this at a school or office, it might not be practice for a home situation. You might ask, why not just have an Ethernet drop installed in your house? The answer is cost and convenience. Either you’ll have to be handy drilling holes and dropping cables through them yourself, or you will have to pay someone anywhere from $85.00 to $200.00 per line drop. What does it cost to get a couple of Powerline Adapters, instead?

Netgear Powerline 500 Cost and Performance

I chose the Netgear Powerline 500 because it was the only Ethernet over Power product available at my local Best Buy Store at a reasonable price. There are other, cheaper powerline adapters with very good ratings, but I was not able to find any of them locally. Still, I paid only $55.00 for the Netgear Powerline 500. In other words, I paid roughly half the price of what it would cost to have a line dropped in the house. Even the line drop is a somewhat limited solution. Would if you were wanting to move the computer to another location or room? As its name implies, the Netgear Powerline 500 offers network speeds of up to 500Mbps. Real-world tests indicate that these kinds of speeds are not actually achieved, but it really doesn’t matter. The Netgear Powerline 500 blows away the speed of any 100Mbps wired connection and is way faster than any internet connection of today will require. Now, you might be asking, why don’t all businesses use Ethernet over Power technology instead of wiring cabling all throughout their buildings? This might have to do with the actual speed limitations. Businesses today, are looking ahead at the very fastest connection speeds available, including things like Fiber and PoE. Power over Ethernet or PoE is basically a way of transmitting power over existing data lines for maximum speed and connectivity. There are other, faster and more expensive Ethernet over Power products that might find its way into enterprise and data center markets, but as of today, this technology is mostly desired by home users and small office environments. While I am not aware of speed and distance limitations of Ethernet over Power technology, I am sure there is much information to be found online in case you are curious.

Does it Really Work?

Connecting the Netgear Powerline 500 was probably the simplest and fastest hardware installation I have ever made.  Unlike setting up WIFI devices, Ethernet over Power requires absolutely no connection or security settings on the computer or router because you are hard wiring into your router. It is as much plug-and-play simplicity as you can possibly get. While other users have complained of a little hitch or two getting it going, I had no such trouble at all. The instant I plugged my son’s computer and ethernet cable into the powered Netgear adapter and his Ethernet jack on the back of his computer, he was connected to the internet.  Since making the Netgear Powerline 500 installation 3 weeks ago, my son’s internet connection has remained fast and connected 24-7.


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Winegard HDTV Antenna


Winegard HDTV AntennaI bought the Winegard HDTV Antenna on impulse, on-site without having any prior knowledge of the brand, research or reviews. What prompted me to buy this particular outdoor HDTV antenna was the low, $35.00 price tag at Home Depot. I was actually shopping for both a splitter and an inexpensive, outdoor HD antenna. As it turns out, I didn’t need a splitter. You may or may not need a coax splitter either, but before we get to the installation concerns and questions, let’s talk about the actual benefits of having an outdoor HDTV antenna.

Why an Outdoor HDTV Antenna?

Over a year ago, I gave up pay TV and started using internal, HD antennas to pick up local channels off-air. I will get into the specifics of why I gave up pay TV a little bit later in this article, but for now, let me explain why I decided to go with an outdoor HDTV antenna. I have three HD TVs in my house: A 42″ LG LCD Flatscreen in my den; a 32″ LCD in my upstairs bedroom and a 65″ Mitsubishi, Projection HD television in the basement. When I cancelled my DirecTV service over a year ago, I bought three, inexpensive, indoor HD antennas for each of these televisions.  The television antennas worked pretty well, if not for two problems:

Problems with Indoor HD Antennas

  • One, Indoor antennas do not help with your room decor.  In order to get the most consistent picture, it seemed I had to place my antenna in the most conspicuous places.
  • Two, even when I found the best place for the antenna, the picture would often freeze and become scrambled on the most used and popular, local stations such as CBS, NBC and ABC.

My best reception came from bedroom television upstairs which was positioned high up on the wall of our vaulted ceiling. This also happened to be the cheapest antenna of the three I purchased. This is when it dawned on me that the position of the antenna was way more important than the quality of the actual HD antenna. An outdoor HDTV antenna started to make a lot of sense. It made even more sense when I realized that my old, DirecTV dish was already wired to all four televisions in my house. Since the wiring was already there, shouldn’t I be able to just replace the current TV dish with an inexpensive outdoor HDTV antenna? The easiest way to test this would be to take one of my current, indoor HDTV antennas and simply connect it to where the cable leads into the DirecTV dish.  Can I use satellite dish as antenna?

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Canon SX510HS Camera Review

Canon SX510HS CameraRight off the bat, I can make three, important claims about the Canon Powershot SX510 Superzoom Camera: One, I am absolutely certain that the SX510HS does not provide the greatest image and video quality of any digital camera. Two, I am equally certain that the Sx510 does not possess the biggest nor best superzoom capabilities of any digital camera on the market. Three, the Canon Powershot SX510 provides perhaps the biggest punch and bang for the buck of any digital camera for its price range. At around $200.00, the SX510HS allows you to capture stunning, detailed photographs and videos of far-away subjects which cannot be revealed with the naked eye. Below is a brief sample of a German Shepard wanting in the back door of his/her home from around 200 yards away from my deck. You can see the scratches on the door paint and frame around the window as well as the color of the dog collar and the expressions on its face.

Canon Powershot SX510HS Superzoom Demonstration

SX510HS Offers Greatest Bang for the Buck of any Digital Camera

Obviously, the subtitle is only my opinion, but having a 30X, full-motion zoom lens in such a small form factor is what makes the $200 Canon SX510HS Camera an extremely impressive tool. Canon probably has one of the best reputations around for making digital cameras, but not all of their consumer-grade products are adored by true photo enthusiasts and camera review blogs. I usually spend a good deal of time on sites like Dpreview, Steves-Digicams and Digital Camera World while shopping for a new camera. While these are excellent websites for gaining a truthful and comprehensive view of the capabilities and quality of cameras, they don’t always represent the needs and desires of your typical bargain-hunting, digital camera user. I knew this camera would be well worth the $200 I spent on it, simply by browsing the dozens of reviews of other users like myself who appreciate the power of a superzoom lens in a small unit.

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