Friday, April 18, 2014

Cheap Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 All-in-One Printer

Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 All-in-One Printer
Customer Ratings: 3 stars
List Price: $299.99
Sale Price: $275.00
Today's Bonus: 8% Off
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The Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 has gotten quite a bit of press given that it can use black ink cartridges that cost $5. Clearly, that distinction is unique among inkjet printers, most of which are sold at or near a loss so that the manufacturer can recoup expenses on the sale of (extremely) high-margin replacement cartridges. So, does that feature make this printer worth the purchase? Perhaps...but perhaps not.

> Why?

Sure, the black cartridge retails for $5, but the three color cartridges will set you back more than $50. Thus, your savings (and cost per copy) will very much depend on your usage. If you are careful to print and copy in black and white, then this printer will likely prove to be quite inexpensive for you approximately 1 cent per page given that the black cartridge is rated for 500 average pages of text. On the other hand, if you print a mix of materials, your cost per page could actually be more than competing inkjets. HP has a white paper on their website that claims that their cost per page is actually *lower* than Lexmark's for *color* content. Amazon is not a fan of links in reviews, but fire up Google and search for "HP Officejet / Officejet Pro vs. Lexmark Cost-Per-Page Comparison" if you are interested.

Oh well, no argument, $5 is a good deal for black and white output. So good, in fact, that the cashier at Office Depot did a double take when he rang up three of them for me, asking, "is this really the correct price?" Thus, if you limit your color printing/copying, the Pro901 (and related models, e.g., 905) really *can* represent quite a savings in comparison with competing models. If instead, you print significant amounts of color content, I would call it a wash.

> So, how is it as a printer?

In a word, decent. Text is dark and clear, unlike many competing models. Photographs also seem fairly decent...especially on photo paper. My in-store tests showed that it fared very well in comparison to the lauded Epson Artisan 810 on plain paper. That said, most reviewers claim that the Artisan is superior on photo paper, which one would expect given that the Artisan uses a 6-color cartridge system. Regardless, photographs looked good enough to my eye...and the Pro901's text quality is far better than the Artisan's in my opinion. Obsessable[dot]com has a detailed review that focuses on print quality if that issue is your primary concern.

The printer also has a removable tray that holds either 150 sheets of paper (up to legal size) or photo paper...but not both simultaneously (as does the Epson Artisan line). You can add a second tray to the Pro901, thereby upgrading your 901 to a 905, but that option is fairly pricey (at the moment).

The output tray is really just an extendable plastic arm, but it is fairly rigid...and seems about ten times more rugged than the flip-out equivalent on the Artisan 810.

> How about scanning and copying?

Scanning quality looks good. To scan, you can place the document directly on the glass or use the document feeder. Many have reported problems using the feeder, but it worked quite well for me. That said, the controls are where this unit really shines for scanning and copying...but more on that topic later.

> What about faxing?

Well, the fax uses the aforementioned printer and scanner for the fax operation, so the physical aspects of faxing are also decent, as one would infer from the discussion of those features. Once again, where faxing really shines, however, relates to the controls...which brings us to...

> How are the controls?

Well, the controls on the device can be summed up in one word -fantastic.

The device has a 4.3" full color touch screen that is really striking. Of course, a decent screen without a decent UI is a waste...and Lexmark did not waste the screen. The UI consists of beautifully rendered 3D controls that are laid out intuitively. The user interface strives to keep each screen simple and clear in purpose, yet also provides easy access to more advance features that are relevant to the current operation at a touch. In general, they allow quick access to all device features and do so in a manner that does not require a Computer Science degree to access all of the useful settings. The beauty and intuitiveness of the display and the controls must be seen and used to be appreciated fully, but perhaps it suffices to say that even the most non-technical user in my house is able to perform advanced operations with this device. I wasn't particularly looking for a touch screen, but there is no turning back after using this one.

With regards to specifics, the controls allow you to perform simple copying and faxing functions as you would expect, but also allow you to initiate document scans that are sent directly to any computer on your network (provided it has the driver software installed) or to a recipient via email. Specifying recipients for either the fax or email can be either by direct entry or by using the device's embedded address book. Of course, specifying other options during these operations (quality, size, color/b&w, ...) is also extremely straightforward.

The device also includes one other unique control feature downloadable applications. While some of these downloadable applications are fairly limited in value (e.g., a calculator, RSS news feed display), others may be incredibly useful to users who have repeating scanning, copying, or faxing tasks.

Lexmark coined the term SmartSolutions for the downloadable applications. Several come preinstalled while others can be downloaded from the Lexmark website. The website uses a browser-based Java applet to review, configure, and install each application directly to your Pro901 from their website, eliminating the need for you to perform an additional installation after downloading.

So what do they do? Well, what do you want them to do? You can configure a SmartSolution for almost any type of repeating task scanning, copying, faxing. Yes, this explanation is somewhat obtuse, so perhaps an example will help.

Assume that you must scan a timesheet each week and mail it to one individual (Fred) as a PDF...with a specific subject and message. You can certainly use the device's standard "scan" control to perform this task, but you would need to tap quite a few buttons to make it happen first scan, then specify scan to email, then specify options (like document type, color/b&w, email address, etc.). Alternatively, for such a repeating task, you can pre-configure a SmartSolution task to perform all of these steps in one button push...and name it "Email timesheet to Fred". In the future, you could then drop your timesheet on the document feeder, click the Smart Solutions button, and then click the "Email timesheet to Fred" button.

You can do the same for scanning documents to your computer. Assume that you scan a credit card statement each month, place it in a PDF, name the PDF with the card/bank name and the date, and place the PDF in a specific credit card statement folder on one of the computers on your network. You guessed it one button click....assuming that you configured a Smart Solution for this task.

There are many other Smart Solutions, including one to upload scanned files directly to Evernote and another to print your calendar directly from Google...and Lexmark has been creating new applications fairly regularly during the two months that I have owned the device. Thus, a description of them all is not practical, but suffice to say that there is probably at least one that you will find useful. Of course, you can also ignore them and life would be fine...and you would still have access to the full range of features on this device...albeit with a couple more button pushes.

The controls also extend to computers configured with the Lexmark driver software. Normally, I am not a fan of heavyweight printer software on my computers, but the installed Lexmark software does allow access to useful features on the device....which brings us to...

> How easy is it to install and configure?

Not bad. The Pro901 supports direct connection to a PC (or Mac) via a USB cable or by using a network-based connection via wireless or Ethernet cable. I installed mine as a network-based printer by connecting it to my home's Gigabit Ethernet backbone (no slow wireless for me :), so plug-and-play detection was not an option. Instead, I installed the driver software on several PCs in my home using the included CD. The first installation included PC-based setup of the device as well, while the installer allowed me to bypass such configuration for subsequent PCs. All-in-all, quite painless...but also not plug-and-play. Of course, that's what you get with a network-based configuration.

> So why not 5 stars?

Because the fax's caller ID is maddening. Seriously.

Even if you configure the fax to not auto-answer, the device's control screen will still display caller ID for each incoming call. Hey, that doesn't sound bad, does it? It is...because each time that the device needs to display this caller ID, it must wake from its sleep state, which also cycles the print head back and forth. Sure, not a problem if the device is awake, but it is an energy star device so it must sleep eventually. You can configure the time before the device sleeps, but regardless, sooner or later you will be sitting next to it when the phone rings and the device is asleep...and you will then need to answer the phone with the device noisily warming up in the background. Amusingly enough, the default sleep time for their single-click energy saver option is ten minutes.

Don't think that this issue is annoying? Try it out and then get back to me. The issue bothered my wife and me enough that I finally contacted Lexmark and exchanged several email messages with their tech support. Their best advice? Disconnect the phone line when not in use. Yes, seriously.

Don't get me wrong, their tech support was extremely responsive...and each message that I received from them was thoughtful, well-written, and empathetic. In fact, the tech even contacted their firmware support group to see if there was any way that they could disable caller ID when fax auto-answer is disabled...and believe it or not, the answer was no. Yes, absolutely fantastic customer service...and a ridiculous implementation. Thus, the phone line remains unplugged...lest my wife defenestrate the thing while working in our home office.

> So should you buy it?

If you print a lot of b&w content, then heck yes. If you print mostly photographs, perhaps you may be better served with something in Epson's Artisan line. That said, the photos that I have printed look great.

In general, I think that it's a great general purpose device for home and SOHO use...and the 5 year warranty makes a good deal a great deal. If you do buy it, however, just make sure that you either leave the phone line unplugged or place your new Pro901 in an unoccupied room. ;)


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I happened upon this printer by accident. I have previously owned the Cannon Pixma 850 after three years it stopped working. I went a few days ago to purchase the Canon Pixma 870 from Staples. Had in my cart when I happened by this printer. Immediately I was impressed. I run a small office and this printer caught my eye for several reasons.

1. Black ink cartridges are 5$ a piece. You can print 500 pages for 5$. That is an incredible bargain.

2. Unlike other printers it carries a five year warranty.

3. It has fantastic power saver features.

As I started using the device to scan, make copies, fax over the next few days it all just worked. Queitly and without problems it perfectly made color copies that were barely distinguishable from the source. The fax software installed on desktop without a hitch and was able to send a fax with no difficulty. It was quick easy to set up works wirelessly.

I use to probably as you do looked down on the lexmark brand. In fact to this point I have only used Canon and HP. But this printer has changed my mind. I can't believe that they don't get better press for what I know consider leading the industry in stopping the overcharging of ink to consumers and making a printer that will last by standing by the product with a five year warranty. if you are thinking about the canon pixma over this. I would consider this option of the lexmark carefully.

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When operated with a new printhead, the printer prints beautifully and performs its functions as advertised. However, before the first cartridges were fully used (within the first 2-3 months of purchase) two of the color inks clogged the printhead. No amount of running deep cleaning utilities would clear the clogs. The optional light swab as described in help also did not clear the clogs, and the printhead was functionally unusable. This is where the fun starts. In November, 2010,Lexmark made available its 100 series printhead (part # 14N1339) for purchase at its web site, along with ink, as a supply. I was warned of a back-order and I patiently waited a month without complaint for a new printhead. It arrived, I installed the new printhead and for the moment it is working beautifully again. Expecting a recurring problem, I tried to order a back-up for inventory. The web-site now instructs that an 800 number must be called. After waiting my turn, I was told that Lexmark will NOT accept ANY orders to purchase that replacement printhead. I was not given any explanation, nor any hope that the printhead will ever be available for purchase again. My statement that I was perfectly willing to wait months did not sway Lexmark. I was told to search for vendors who might have one left in stock. I wasted my time, and found none. Other than the 901 and 905, I do not know whether the same printhead is used in other inkjet printers. It is simply astonishing that Lexmark is continuing to sell printer models, with the knowledge that a printhead is likely to fail but no replacements will be sold. Even if I was given some explanation of a change in manufacturing sources, it would be somewhat understandable, but Lexmark has offered no explanation. Elsewhere in these comments, a Lexmark employee suggested that the commenter contact him. I tried the same address and received no response. I regret that I did not ship this printer back to Lexmark when the first printhead failed. Lexmark has not only created questions of credibility and reliability, but more serious questions about its liability for continuing to sell a product for which it refuses to supply replacement parts. There are serious questions about the representations of Lexmark concerning the fitness of this product for its expected and intended use. My recommendation is that no one buy any Lexmark printers using the printhead series 100 part 14N1339 until Lexmark explains its refusal to sell replacement printheads, and its proposed remedies.

Honest reviews on Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 All-in-One Printer

Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program This is a very nice business focused printer.

As soon as you open the box, you realize you are opening a business oriented multi function print device. No questions about it and it is a nice feeling to open it.

In the box you receive:


USB cable

Telephone cable

3 print cartridges (all required for printing)

Quick setup, network setup, Quick Reference Guide, Fax Setup and warranty information

Cloth (to clean finger prints off the touch screen I suppose)

Software CD

My first impression looking through the documentation is that it doesn't seem as though any of the documentation tells you how to remove the printer from the box. Yes, it's a pretty simple process and takes little to no effort, but usually they try and make these things as simple as possible for everyone who uses computers (beginners to pros). Strange.

As I wasn't sure if the unboxing procedure was included on the installation CD or not, my first step was to take the CD out and drop it in the CD tray and installed the software. Nope. Doesn't tell you how to unbox the printer. Yes, again, unboxing the printer is a simple, simple process, yet it isn't documented in an easy to see format. That's a single complaint so far.

The software, while it doesn't tell you how to remove the printer from the box, DOES walk you through pulling all the pieces of tape off of the printer and installing the cartridges. It does this with a series of videos (both on the printer and on the computer for print head and cartridge installation, which is fantastic). It's very, very easy to set it up to print. This is just preparing the printer, not installation on the computer and usage which I will get to in a few lines. This is followed by the printing of an alignment page which it uses to automatically calibrate the print heads and cartridges. This alignment process did take a good 2-3 minutes though.

The printer, the first time you power it on, can also provide you a video tutorial on using the printer. These short clips are useful for getting to the know the printer. This is a very nice addition and appreciated.

To connect this printer to my computer, I used straight USB (easy, simple setup but required the printer be in the same room as the computer I was using, which isn't always something I do) and using Wi-Fi. USB connection essentially just required me to plug the cable in properly. Can't get much simpler than that.

Wi-Fi setup also required you to use the supplied USB cable for initial setup. Once connected you can tell the printer to scan for wireless networks. As long as your network appears, it's fairly straight forward to set this up. I am using WPA security on my Wi-Fi network and it was astoundingly simple to type my security pass phrase and let the printer complete the setup. Again, simple, straight forward and easy. Everything in life should be this easy.

I tried each feature one by one (sorry, don't have a phone that will allow fax capability; those looking to use this functionality, I am positive, given how easy the rest of the setup went, that this would be easy to setup but can't say for sure).

First I tried printing. I opened a web page, pressed Ctrl-P (for print), chose the Lexmark and let it go to work. The page was mostly text with some color and it printed as quickly as I had expected. Printing a 4 page Word document, with color text and double sidede which the printer can handle automatically (you don't have to flip the paper manually) took about 45-50 seconds using the wireless connection. USB was about 15-20 seconds faster on the same document.

Scanning over the network from the printer is easy as well. Put the document or picture you want to scan on the scanner, press the scanner icon on the printer's touch screen. Pleasant additions include menu options on the printer to scan to the computer, a memory card you install on the printer or scan directly to email. The last option requires you to walk through another mostly easy setup, as long as you know your email address and account password. This would allow you to scan a document without needing a computer on if all you wanted to do was email the image to say, a business partner who is traveling. You can also scan to your computer and have it opened automatically in email if you don't want to let the printer email the document to someone without needing the computer turned on. Scan speed was OK, but not blisteringly fast. Quality using the automatic quality setting came out crisp, clear and legible for a text document; the picture I scanned came out clear. No complaints here.

Copying is about as simple as you'd expect as well. Put the document or picture you want to copy on the glass of the printer and close the lid. Press the Copy icon, choose color or just B&W, press the green button that appears on the right side of the display and BAM! Your document is copied. I first copied the text document I printer. The text wasn't as crisp as the original, but with a copier of any type this is expected and it was well within tolerance levels of anyone I showed it to. The picture I copied came out again not as clear as the original, but still in a very nice quality. If I used high quality paper you may not even be able to tell the difference between this and the original.

One nice, very nice, addition to this package is the inclusion of the Abbyy OCR software. For those that aren't aware, you can use this to read text from an image. For an example, say you have a printed document but want a version you can edit on your computer in Word. Normally you would scan the document and be stuck with what is simply an image; not editable in any usable way. With this software it can process an image and turn the text into a document. It works reasonable well and easily, which is awesome.

Using the memory card options on the side of the printer, you can print photos directly. The only problem here is that if you are trying to print to custom size paper it isn't as easy as one might like. The only way I've found to do it is to pull out the paper tray, pull out all the paper and resize the paper tray for the photo paper (assuming you're printing to something other than standard letter paper). There isn't a manual paper feed tray to just drop a single piece of photo paper into. Of course, if you're looking for a photo printer, and not a printer for a small business though, then this printer probably isn't for you as you might be quickly annoyed by having to load and reload the paper tray every time you want to print a photo and then print a document.

Speaking of photo printing, comparing this printer to the Canon Pixma MP990 I also have, the photos looked good, but the Canon prints, on the same photo paper, look clearer, better defined and have better color representation. Of course, if you have nothing else to compare the photos from this printer from, they look darn good without question!

Over all this is a very nice device. All of the features work as advertised and work well. Plus, if all you're doing is printing black and white documents, and assuming the 510 pages per black print cartridge (that costs only ~$5) is to be believed as it states on the box, B&W documents would literally cost less than a penny to print. You can't really beat this even with a laser printer really.

The 5 stars are given for those looking for a business printer. If you're looking for a photo printer and want to use the standard functions here, you're better off with a photo focused multi function printer and for that type of user, I'd give this printer 3 stars.

I will keep my Canon Pixima MP990 for photo printing, but I'm using this printer for everything else!

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It worked easily out of the box and I've been printing wirelessly and double-sided since. Compared to my last printer: HP C7280 Photosmart All-in-One Printer (wireless and doublesided) which cost twice as much, this Lexmark is a dream. No jamming issues, software is easier to use, able to conserve more color ink than I could conserve with the HP. I'm so pleased.

The installation disc (which I installed on a PC and Mac) was odd OR user error. But this was a minor glitch because the paperwork that accompanied the disc and printer had a business card with the support number printed front & center. No hunting for that support number in the fine print or online so I called and got help in a reasonable amount of time.

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Cheap Multi-link 4 Port Fax/Modem Switch Stick

Multi-link 4 Port Fax/Modem Switch Stick
Customer Ratings: 4.5 stars
List Price: $145.00
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Looking to economize by eliminating a dedicated fax line for our home office, we turned to this product to handle incoming calls and route the fax transmissions to the fax machine.

It DOES this, but "at a price." The "price" is an annoying ringback function that cannot be programmed out and that requires us to press "9" every time we answer the telephone. Customer service at this company is available only during "regular business hours" (i.e., approximately 9 to 5) and once contacted, not particularly helpful. One fellow at the service center delivered a short lecture on how this product worked, only to end with "you'll have to press '9' to disable the ringback". Great!

Another annoyance is that this product does not work with phone company voice mail had to purchase a standalone voice mail unit to ensure we got our messages.

It does route the faxes to the fax machine as advertised, but the glitches make using it a less than "seamless" experience.

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This is the second Stick that I have purchased for use at a church. In one case, the alternative was to add another phone line to provide "dedicated" access to heating/cooling plant controls via modem. The Stick allows sharing of one line by modem, fax, and voice with calls routed appropriately and flawlessly. The Stick allows configuration for special situations, but the out of the box setup was perfectly adequate for our needs. So, setup was a snap; just plug it in, connect the lines to the correct ports on the Stick and you are ready to go. Vastly less expensive that the monthly cost of a new phone line.

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Well, after researching many different fax switching devices, I decided to to purchase The Stick for my home business. I don't receive many faxes, so I didn't want a dedicated phone line, and thought this would be the ideal solution.

After waiting in anticipation for The Stick to arrive in the mail, I hooked it up and tried it out. The device does transfer fax calls to the fax, and voice calls to the phone. But the good ends there.

None of my fax equipment would actually receive a fax when connected through The Stick they all started to, then came up with "ERROR FAX NOT RECEIVED" and the call was terminated. (They would receive a fax great if connected directly, and not through The Stick).

So, that right there defeated the whole purpose for me.

Next, if someone called on (for voice), the call would be transferred to the phone great. However, if they hungup before the call was answered, The Stick would just keep ringing the phone forever! You had to answer the dead line, then hangup in order to stop the ringing. That sucks.

And finally CallerID. If you enable The Stick to work with CallerID, you must put up with the line ringing your voice phone two times, regardless of the type of call. So call fax calls would ring the voice line twice, all modem calls ring the voice line twice, etc, before the call is routed to the proper port.

Overall, I am very disappointed. I was looking forward to this device, thinking that it was the perfect solution to so many problems. Nope, just more headaces and no problems solved.

Save your money and don't purchase The Stick.

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This is a great device to accommodate a FAX on a single phone line. It passes ordinary calls through to my answering machine or phone, but intercepts a FAX without allowing the phone to ring. The directions are a bit difficult to follow regarding number of rings to set it for, but the rest of the installation is super simple.

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I am using this at work for a fax and a time clock with a modem in it. E needed something that would allow accounting to dial into the time clock to get employee hours. The time clock and the fax machine are on the same line. I found this to be a little hard to set up. You really need to read the directions (which are not the clearest thing to figure out). After some time messing around we finally got it to work.

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Buy Brite-View LinkE BV-210C Digital Home Powerline Ethernet Adapters

Brite-View LinkE BV-210C Digital Home Powerline Ethernet Adapters 1-port Bridge and 4-port Switch
Customer Ratings: 4 stars
List Price: $79.99
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I have had zero problems with it. Performance will vary from user to user. I think it all depends on your wiring and distance between the units. Mine are distanced pretty far apart and I haven't seen anything travel faster than ~15Mbps. I have three of my ports taken up and you would think that the switch unit would handle traffic between the four ports pretty quickly, but transfer rates are at a constant 10Mbps when copying files from one server to another. Whereas if they were attached to my router, they would copy over at about +45Mbps. So, I don't think the switch is a true switch. I think it is just traveling to my router and then back. I inquired as to whether or not I could attach a second 4-port switch unit to the set and I was told no. However, I was told that you can have more than one kit on the same wiring. Overall, it is a little more than I would like to pay, but worth purchasing.

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I had never heard of anything like this product before, nor have I seen anyone else with one. So I took a gamble on this; And guess what? I won. Big time. I had already spent $400 on a XBox 360 Elite, plus $50 for a subscription to XBox Live. I REFUSED to pay another $100 for Microsoft's wireless XBox 360 network adapter. They should have built it into they console like PS3 and Wii, but chose to nickle and dime us to death, charging us ridiculous prices for accessories. Not this time Bill Gates! I opened up my Brite-View box, plugged the either-net cable from my Verizon FIOS wireless router (located upstairs) into the receiver, plugged the receiver into the wall socket, then plugged another either-net cable from my XBox 360 (located downstairs) into the 4-way port, plugged the port into the wall socket, turned on the XBox, and I was logged into XBox Live in about half a second! Played some Modern Warfare 2 with absolutely no lag. Watched some video content too. Best decision I've ever made! And I can use the other ports for other things like Blu-ray, or another computer. TAKE THAT! MICROSOFT!

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This device only works with limited range. I can't get a signal if I move it too far from the base unit. I tried to use from my office to the living room, both on the first floor of my house, different circuits on the same phase, and I could not get any signal.

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I needed to connect my Panasonic BluRay, in the family room, to my internet router, in a different part of the house. The utility company had used another powerline modem so I figured why not try this one?

IT WORKS no interference, no problems. I bypassed an extention cord for the modem, as recomended, but it might have worked with it. Overall I would recomend this product to anyone needing to extend the reach of their high data rate ethernet!

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Just plug & play.

I'm very happy with it. I have Corinex power line it is difficul to setup, have no customer support.

With Brite-view I think have notthing to worry. Just follow easy intruction & ready to go that it.

I did not test with the video yet, i will up date after test.

I give it 4 stars because it have no manual book come with it

Brite-View LinkE BV-210D Digital Home Powerline Ethernet Adapters 1-port Bridge Twin Pack (White)

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Cheap BrainyTrade WIFI USB 3G Mobile Wireless Hotspot Router 1800mAh

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I was going on a vegas trip and my hotel did not have wireless internet. They only have a wired connection but the problem is that I have a Samsung Chromebook which was my laptop of choice because it was so light and small. Well I ordered this wireless router because of the size and the power bank was also interesting. It worked perfectly and I still use it to charge my phone once in a while when I am in class. I would definitely recommend this product.

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This is a really good device for creating a Wi-Fi wireless hotspot and also a USB 3G capability, it also is a power bank backup power for your device. It has an 1800 mA power bank to recharge your device. This is very useful when you're running out of power and have nowhere to recharge your system. This device is very useful to use, that make sure that you read the instructions two or three times before you try to use it, they can be a bit confusing. Make sure you fully charge the device before you use it for the first time and keep it fully charged before you take it out on a trip and may need the power supply. I recommend this device to anyone who has a tablet or an iPhone/iPad or other USB device that may need its capabilities such as a Smart Phone.

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I liked the way so portable and fairly easy to use. The wireless router worked with all of my items.

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The quality is good, easy to set up. But has stability issues, most times works well, but sometimes does not connect.

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Great product good resolution and excellent quality, is easy to install, comes with everything needed for it and arrived on time, I recommend it.

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Buy Netgear MA 301 802.11b Wireless PCI Adapter

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Customer Ratings: 4 stars
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I spent a lot of time reading the reviews about wireless access points, wireless routers and wireless network cards. I finally decided on the Linksys router and the Netgear MA 301/401 interface card. So, here's the deal. I have a PII-400 running Win98 that is connected to the router using Cat 5 cable, which is then connected to a cable modem. For those of you who don't know, Cat 5 cable is simply the standard ethernet cable. I then installed the MA 301/401 combo on another computer, a Packard Bell PII-233 running Win95. Unfortunately Win95 had an IRQ conflict with the PCI card (MA 301) that could not be resolved. I installed Win98 and the IRQ conflict disappeared.

After getting the Packard Bell system set up, the MA 301/401 would not link up with the Linksys router. I called Netgear tech support and discovered that the SSID on the card must be identical to the SSID on the router. I discovered that the Linksys SSID was "linksys" and the SSID on the card was "Linksys." When I changed the "L" to an "l", the card connected to the router immediately and I was in business.

The Packard Bell machine is on the 2nd floor of my townhouse and the Linksys router is in the basement. The signal, therefore, is passing thru 2 floors and 2 walls. The link quality and signal strength are consistently in the "good" category and sometimes they are "excellent." These are qualitative measures reported by the Netgear card's software.

As for performance, I downloaded a 19MB file off Microsoft's web site and it took less than 5 minutes via the wireless connection.

I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive about buying the Linksys router. The reviews are mixed and some people have totally trashed it. I decided to give it a try, figuring that I would return it if it didn't work well. The same thing for the MA301/401 card; some loved it and some hated it. I was also concerned that having a router and card from different manufacturers would cause problems. It turns out that I didn't need to be concerned at all because both pieces are working perfectly.

Contrary to what others have said, my connection has not been lost and it takes only a few seconds to establish the wireless connection on startup. I have found that the documentation provided with both items was adequate. However, I wish each of them would have mentioned the importance of having the same SSID on the router and the card. I have not talked with Linksys tech support, but the two calls to Netgear went well.

Things to watch out for: 1)The Netgear MA 301, which is the PCI card that plugs into the desktop computer must be used with the Netgear MA 401 wireless PC card. This PC card will also fit in a laptop. 2) As I mentioned, the SSID must be the same on both pieces of hardware. 3)I have not activated the WEP encryption so I have no idea how it will affect performance.

The bottom line: I highly recommend the Linksys BEFW11S4 V.2 router and the Netgear MA 301/401 interface card.

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This is a decent adapter but could use a little work. Inserting and removing the PC card would be improved if they included some type of guide rails. So take a little care when inserting the card, which you will probably only ever do once.

Also, this card will probably only work with the netgear 802.11b card. Other vendors implemented a more generic PCI-to-PCCard slot for their 802.11b cards, but this one seems geared only towards the matching netgear cards.

A little trouble getting it to work with BSD but a friend patched it and has submitted the patch to the BSD folks.

Worked fine in Win2k.

Netgear offers a decent price/performance value for their wireless stuff.

Best Deals for Netgear MA 301 802.11b Wireless PCI Adapter

I bought an MA301 and MA401 for an older pentium that had no USB port and Win95. It was a quick install. It took me about 20 minutes to open the PC and install the MA301 adapter with the MA401 card.

However, I would have to agree with the other review that there could have been card guides to better accept the MA401 card. The other difficulty is remembering which side is up when you remove and replace the MA401 card back into the MA301 adapter for some reason.

The signal strength and link quality is better on another computer that uses an MA101 USB adapter. If you have Win98 or better and a USB port, the MA101 is a better choice for two reasons: 1) You don't have to open your computer to do the install and 2) You can position the unit away from the computer so that you can get the best link wuality and signal strength.

I have been asked, so why did I not upgrade to Win98 or better, get a USB adapter and go for the MA101 instead? Well. It's simple. I did not want to risk losing the system to do the OS upgrade. Cost wise, the MA301/MA401 combination is similar to the MA101 with a two-port USB board. However, the OS would have been extra. The advantage would have been the ability to run other USB devices on the old computer.

Honest reviews on Netgear MA 301 802.11b Wireless PCI Adapter

This product works great. The only complaint I have about it is there is no mention anywhere in the documentation on the correct way to insert the PC Card. The PC Card will go in both ways, and I had to experiment to see which way was the right way. Other than that, the card works great.

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I loved the fact that this card installed without the PCMCIA card even present and worked perfectly when I put the PCMCIA card in. No messing around with installing drivers for this card, then for that card, etc.

So overall a slick install and a good piece of work.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reviews of Netgear 108Mbps RangeMax Router

Netgear 108Mbps RangeMax Router
Customer Ratings: 4 stars
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It is nice and has a smooth connection, but I have several different routers and the range on this is basically the same as my 54g NETGEAR router. Actually, I recommend the TP-LINK N750, That is what I use now and it smokes all of my other routers. It costs quite a bit more, but you get what you pay for! NETGEAR N150 does have slightly better range than this and the 54g, so if you're looking not to spend a lot, go with that! Model number is WRN1000.

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Customer Ratings: 5 stars
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Another quality Velleman product. Plug it in, configured it and voila it works as advertised. I use it to control some amateur radio equipment over the internet. Works great.

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