Roku TV Wireless Speakers seamlessly sync to your TV for stereo sound

When Roku quietly acquired a Denmark-based multi-room audio startup called Dynastrom in late 2017, it didn’t announce what, exactly, Roku – a patently TV-focused company – needed a bunch of audio engineers for.

When Roku quietly acquired a Denmark-based multi-room audio startup called Dynastrom in late 2017, it didn’t announce what, exactly, Roku – a patently TV-focused company – needed a bunch of audio engineers for.

Today, those plans have become abundantly clear: Roku has designed a pair of wireless TV speakers that will leverage Dynastrom tech to connect seamlessly to any Roku TV.

Roku will start shipping the speakers in October of this year here in the US for $199.99 (about £150, AU$270), available exclusively through its website and, to sweeten the deal, the speakers will be available to pre-order this week for $149.99 before increasing to just $179.99 for the remainder of the pre-release window.

The big draw here is the fact that the speakers don’t require any cable running to the TV itself – merely requiring a power cable – and can connect to your router via Wi-Fi.

The speakers will then pair with any Roku TV via an on-screen setup process but, in case you want to stream music directly from your phone, don’t worry: Roku says the speakers will support Bluetooth as well.

Roku TV Wireless Speakers with the Roku Touch and Roku Voice Remote – all part of the launch bundle.

Speakers first, soundbar later?

At launch the speakers will come bundled with the high-end voice remote from previous Roku TV models and the Roku Ultra, as well as another completely new product called the Roku Touch – a battery-powered remote with programmable presets, a suite of playback controls and a built-in microphone.

According to Roku, the programmable presets can be set to any voice command (like “Play jazz music on Amazon Music”) and is intended to be used in rooms adjacent to the living room where you might’ve lost remotes in past.

While the Roku TV Wireless Speakers and new Roku Touch seem to serve relatively niche audiences at the moment, Roku believes that there’s a large group out there who will enjoy the simplicity of the system over the complexity of AV receivers and 5.1 surround systems.

Originally Roku announced at CES 2018 that it planned on releasing a smart soundbar in the later half of the year with TCL but couldn’t comment on when that product would be coming in relation to the Roku TV Wireless Speakers.

It’s Amazon Prime Day! Click the link to see all the best deals!

Should I buy the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 17 Bluetooth speaker?

The bottom line: The Bang & Olufsen Beolit 17 is one of the best portable speakers you can buy right now. Its lunchbox-like design is easy to transport, especially if you’re after something to play music during a summer BBQ, rather than a holiday speaker.

The bottom line: The Bang & Olufsen Beolit 17 is one of the best portable speakers you can buy right now. Its lunchbox-like design is easy to transport, especially if you’re after something to play music during a summer BBQ, rather than a holiday speaker. B&O has nailed just about every aspect, from design and sound to the quality of materials used in its manufacture. The Beolit 17 is a luxury speaker without too scary a price. It uses Bluetooth rather than Wi-Fi, perfect if it will be moved from room to room, or even house to house. And yet it still has audio quality strong enough to act as your main Hi-Fi.

Pros: Portable, fantastic 24-hour battery life, excellent sound

Cons: No Wi-Fi or multi-room

Bang & Olufsen Beolit 17 Bluetooth speaker: Everything you need to know

The Beolit 17 is part of the B&O Play range, which is full of speakers and headphones made for normal people who care about quality. Traditional B&O hifi speakers are design statements you have to build your living room around. The Beolit 17 is not.

It’s actually more flexible than an Apple HomePod or Sonos One. A carry handle lets you take the speaker wherever you like, and as there’s an integrated battery it doesn’t need, or want, to be tethered to a power socket all day.

This is an updated version of the Beolit 15 released in 2015. B&O has made some sound tweaks, but the main difference is a switch to USB-C for charging. That’s handy if your phone has a USB-C port, as you can use the same cable.

Features

Like other B&O Play speakers, the Beolit is a sound quality hit. There are six drivers packed into this cute little box.

A large 5.5-inch long throw driver provides the mids and bass. It’s backed up by two passive radiators, which make the low-end far more powerful than you’d expect given the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 17’s relatively small stature.

Three tweeters on its sides fire out the treble. These are the key to the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 17’s 360-degree sound. You don’t have to sit in front of it to get perfect audio.

The battery also lasts a whopping 24 hours at lower volumes, which is fantastic.

As this is a Bluetooth speaker the focus is not multiform or features like Spotify Connect. However, a BeoPlay app lets you pair up multiple speakers and create your own sound profiles.

Design

The Bang & Olufsen Beolit 17 is one of the most charming Bluetooth speakers available. Its lunchbox design is cute and stylish at the same time.

Unlike many alternatives, all the materials used are high-quality too. The strap is real leather rather than a plastic-based synthetic, its top and bottom are rubber coated for extra resilience and the aluminium grille that curves around its sides looks sophisticated.

The Beolit 17’s look is by Cecilie Manz, a Danish designer renowned for her stylish, minimal furniture. You can tell in an instant this speaker wasn’t conceived by any old design team. Not keen on the white and tan version? It also comes in black, for an altogether moodier look.

A speaker that looks, sounds and feels great: what more could you want?

Amazon Prime Day 2018: the best offers from the retail giant

Extreme faces challenges, girds for future networking battles

Extreme Networks is contending for greater influence from the data center to the network edge but it’s got some obstacles to overcome.

Extreme is still grappling with how to best integrate, use and effectively sell the technologies it has acquired from Avaya and Brocade in the past year as well as incorporate and develop its own products to do battle in the cloud, mobile and edge computing environments of the future.

Extreme Networks is contending for greater influence from the data center to the network edge but it’s got some obstacles to overcome.

Extreme is still grappling with how to best integrate, use and effectively sell the technologies it has acquired from Avaya and Brocade in the past year as well as incorporate and develop its own products to do battle in the cloud, mobile and edge computing environments of the future. Remember too that Extreme bought wireless player Zebra Technologies in 2016 for $55 million.

In terms of results that Wall Street watches Extreme Networks grew revenue 76% to $262 million, in its recent fiscal third quarter. According to Extreme those gains were fueled mostly by growth from its acquisitions and around an 8% growth in its own products.

[ Don’t miss customer reviews of top remote access tools and see the most powerful IoT companies . | Get daily insights by signing up for Network World newsletters. ]

Analyst expectations were higher about –$266 million– so there was some stock market consternation earlier this year –and there have been some layoffs at the company — but most experts say integrating the technologies Extreme has purchased in the past two years is no small feat and they expect the network vendor to continue growing.

Campus switching, wireless management

Extreme CEO Ed Meyercord thinks so as well telling analysts on the firm’s most recent earnings call: “Combining Avaya’s differentiated fabric technology with Extreme’s full suite of software and competitive wireless, continues to yield dividends from a cross-selling perspective. We are now rebuilding our pipeline of business in our Avaya campus business, which is being generated by strong demand for our fabric solution,” Meyercord said.

“The ease of deployment, the ability to segment networks across the enterprise and a high level of security in our Layer 2 fabric is driving a healthy pipeline of demand for our solutions. We continue to target a $200 million annual run rate in Q4 and growth in fiscal 2019 at a higher gross margin level than what we saw in Q3,” Meyercord said.

Key to continued customer acceptance and future growth Extreme recently took the wraps off a number of new products that represent its first rollout that featured technologies from its newly integrated roster including wired, wireless, network management, cloud, analytics and security.

Customers need to protect and advance their edge networks and there has been no path to protect and manage this vital environment, says Mike Leibovitz, director of mobility solutions at Extreme. The network edge is where mobile transactions, management and connection of IoT devices occur. It is the first line of defense against cyberattacks where multiple connectivity technologies come together across various locations and deployment situations.

Extreme debuts Smart OmniEdge for WiFI, switching

And that’s where the company’s Smart OmniEdge suite of products promises to improve the management, policy setting and security of customers’ edge network environments, Leibovitz says.

The Smart OmniEdge family includes:

ExtremeAI for Smart OmniEdge – A hosted application for WiFi environments that uses machine learning to collect network analytics, device statistics, connection rates, and user and application experience characteristics. This lets the network constantly learn and adapt to a customer’s clients and applications accessing the Wi-Fi network, Extreme said.ExtremeCloud Appliance – The on-premise appliance delivers cloud-like licensing and management with integrated services and is container ready for operational expansion, Extreme stated. It is also available as a virtual machine (VM) for customers that have their own private cloud services.Extreme Extended Edge Switching – Software for Extreme’s family of switches that lets customers collapse multiple network layers into a single logical switch. The idea is to enhance edge switch intelligence, flatten the network and ultimately cut costs, the company said. Extreme Defender for IoT –The Defender for IoT application can be deployed on the ExtremeCloud Appliance in any form factor and used to help ensure secure access of IoT devices plugged into the wall jack AP or the Extreme Defender Adaptor. The application lets IT administrators analyze traffic flows and pinpoint anomalies. The application works with the Extreme Fabric Connect infrastructure or over third-party networks to protect IoT devices, and is ideal for healthcare environments, the company said.

One of the key take-aways from the announcement is that OmniEdge and the company’s Extreme Management Center gives users options of managing wireless environments from the same pane of glass as you manage your traditionally wired networks, Leibovitz says. From a competitive standpoint no one else offers that capability, he says.

Certainly, how Extreme views the competition in the enterprise network world is different.

All eyes on Cisco, HP Aruba, Juniper

“Cisco’s philosophy is the intelligence traditionally lived in the core, you know, which is really their strength, the Nexus just platforms. And then they make decisions and sort of proliferate it out to the edge. HP Aruba, built their networking strength around making those decisions at the access layer, where Aruba came from. And then the intelligence sort of flows in through the rest of the network and sort of dies out by the time it gets to the core,” Norman Rice chief marketing, development and Product Operations Officer of Extreme told Network World.

“When you look at us, we look at that problem differently. We think that the intelligence lives in our management software suite, Rice says. “The core strength of Extreme is around automation, simplicity, and being able to put policy and controls into the hands of a manager or operator and being able to push those out in an automated way so that they can scale and manage more efficiently,” Rice says.

Rice said Extreme’s new direction is reflective of an evolving network environment. “Look at the fact that we’ll see something like a billion new 5G devices alone coming onto networks in the next five years and the complexity that will introduce. The networking industry has been stagnant the last few years and because of IoT, because of the proliferation of information and devices and the amount of content and information flying around is going to change things. The network is becoming more of a mesh of devices,” Rice says. “We’ve tried to create a lot of flexibility and services that our customers can utilize to grow with these changes.”

So, can Extreme’s updated strategy and differentiation attract more enterprise customers?

In terms of switching gear the company does not exactly start from a position of strength. According to Dell Oro, the company had only 1.2-1.5% of the total switching market in 2017.

“One of the keys for Extreme is to move past this transition period where it is integrating all of its newly acquired technologies – Avaya, Zebra and Brocade and execute on their plans,” says Sameh Boujelbene, senior director at Dell’Oro Group.

The company is strong in small-to-medium sized customers with education, retail and hospitals being some Extreme’s biggest customers, Boujelbene said.

SD-WAN, Intent Based Networking hotness

“It definitely is a good time for new technologies to hit the network market as wireless and wired networks especially in the markets Extreme is strong in are ripe for technology refreshment,” Boujelbene says.

Keep in mind that competitors such as HPE, Arista, Dell – not to mention Cisco which dominates networking sales – all have their eyes on this end of the market too Boujelbene added.

“Extreme has a strong story when it comes to its unified management offering but it is in a very competitive market,” she said.

Brandon Butler, a senior research analyst with IDC went a step further saying “Given Extreme’s presence in the enterprise branch, the company could strengthen its WAN (and SD-WAN) partnerships, given that cloud and SaaS app consumption in the enterprise continues to rise. Extreme is one of many companies that has built a robust network management software, which the company could more closely associate with the burgeoning Intent Based Networking (IBN) technology transition.”

IDC believes that IBN represents the next major advance of integrated visibility, automation and assurance into network management; Extreme has many of the components important to IBN technology. “Overall, Extreme has assembled a competitive portfolio of network solutions. It now needs to integrate those into a cohesive network portfolio and leverage it to expand into new market segments,” Butler says.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Extreme facing challenges, girds for future networking battles

Extreme Networks is contending for greater influence from the data center to the network edge but it’s got some obstacles to overcome.

Extreme is still grappling with how to best integrate, use and effectively sell the technologies it has acquired from Avaya and Brocade in the past year as well as incorporate and develop its own products to do battle in the cloud, mobile and edge computing environments of the future.

Extreme Networks is contending for greater influence from the data center to the network edge but it’s got some obstacles to overcome.

Extreme is still grappling with how to best integrate, use and effectively sell the technologies it has acquired from Avaya and Brocade in the past year as well as incorporate and develop its own products to do battle in the cloud, mobile and edge computing environments of the future. Remember too that Extreme bought wireless player Zebra Technologies in 2016 for $55 million.

In terms of results that Wall Street watches Extreme Networks grew revenue 76% to $262 million, in its recent fiscal third quarter. According to Extreme those gains were fueled mostly by growth from its acquisitions and around an 8% growth in its own products.

[ Don’t miss customer reviews of top remote access tools and see the most powerful IoT companies . | Get daily insights by signing up for Network World newsletters. ]

Analyst expectations were higher about –$266 million– so there was some stock market consternation earlier this year –and there have been some layoffs at the company — but most experts say integrating the technologies Extreme has purchased in the past two years is no small feat and they expect the network vendor to continue growing.

Campus switching, wireless management

Extreme CEO Ed Meyercord thinks so as well telling analysts on the firm’s most recent earnings call: “Combining Avaya’s differentiated fabric technology with Extreme’s full suite of software and competitive wireless, continues to yield dividends from a cross-selling perspective. We are now rebuilding our pipeline of business in our Avaya campus business, which is being generated by strong demand for our fabric solution,” Meyercord said.

“The ease of deployment, the ability to segment networks across the enterprise and a high level of security in our Layer 2 fabric is driving a healthy pipeline of demand for our solutions. We continue to target a $200 million annual run rate in Q4 and growth in fiscal 2019 at a higher gross margin level than what we saw in Q3,” Meyercord said.

Key to continued customer acceptance and future growth Extreme recently took the wraps off a number of new products that represent its first rollout that featured technologies from its newly integrated roster including wired, wireless, network management, cloud, analytics and security.

Customers need to protect and advance their edge networks and there has been no path to protect and manage this vital environment, says Mike Leibovitz, director of mobility solutions at Extreme. The network edge is where mobile transactions, management and connection of IoT devices occur. It is the first line of defense against cyberattacks where multiple connectivity technologies come together across various locations and deployment situations.

Extreme debuts Smart OmniEdge for WiFI, switching

And that’s where the company’s Smart OmniEdge suite of products promises to improve the management, policy setting and security of customers’ edge network environments, Leibovitz says.

The Smart OmniEdge family includes:

ExtremeAI for Smart OmniEdge – A hosted application for WiFi environments that uses machine learning to collect network analytics, device statistics, connection rates, and user and application experience characteristics. This lets the network constantly learn and adapt to a customer’s clients and applications accessing the Wi-Fi network, Extreme said.ExtremeCloud Appliance – The on-premise appliance delivers cloud-like licensing and management with integrated services and is container ready for operational expansion, Extreme stated. It is also available as a virtual machine (VM) for customers that have their own private cloud services.Extreme Extended Edge Switching – Software for Extreme’s family of switches that lets customers collapse multiple network layers into a single logical switch. The idea is to enhance edge switch intelligence, flatten the network and ultimately cut costs, the company said. Extreme Defender for IoT –The Defender for IoT application can be deployed on the ExtremeCloud Appliance in any form factor and used to help ensure secure access of IoT devices plugged into the wall jack AP or the Extreme Defender Adaptor. The application lets IT administrators analyze traffic flows and pinpoint anomalies. The application works with the Extreme Fabric Connect infrastructure or over third-party networks to protect IoT devices, and is ideal for healthcare environments, the company said.

One of the key take-aways from the announcement is that OmniEdge and the company’s Extreme Management Center gives users options of managing wireless environments from the same pane of glass as you manage your traditionally wired networks, Leibovitz says. From a competitive standpoint no one else offers that capability, he says.

Certainly, how Extreme views the competition in the enterprise network world is different.

All eyes on Cisco, HP Aruba, Juniper

“Cisco’s philosophy is the intelligence traditionally lived in the core, you know, which is really their strength, the Nexus just platforms. And then they make decisions and sort of proliferate it out to the edge. HP Aruba, built their networking strength around making those decisions at the access layer, where Aruba came from. And then the intelligence sort of flows in through the rest of the network and sort of dies out by the time it gets to the core,” Norman Rice chief marketing, development and Product Operations Officer of Extreme told Network World.

“When you look at us, we look at that problem differently. We think that the intelligence lives in our management software suite, Rice says. “The core strength of Extreme is around automation, simplicity, and being able to put policy and controls into the hands of a manager or operator and being able to push those out in an automated way so that they can scale and manage more efficiently,” Rice says.

Rice said Extreme’s new direction is reflective of an evolving network environment. “Look at the fact that we’ll see something like a billion new 5G devices alone coming onto networks in the next five years and the complexity that will introduce. The networking industry has been stagnant the last few years and because of IoT, because of the proliferation of information and devices and the amount of content and information flying around is going to change things. The network is becoming more of a mesh of devices,” Rice says. “We’ve tried to create a lot of flexibility and services that our customers can utilize to grow with these changes.”

So, can Extreme’s updated strategy and differentiation attract more enterprise customers?

In terms of switching gear the company does not exactly start from a position of strength. According to Dell Oro, the company had only 1.2-1.5% of the total switching market in 2017.

“One of the keys for Extreme is to move past this transition period where it is integrating all of its newly acquired technologies – Avaya, Zebra and Brocade and execute on their plans,” says Sameh Boujelbene, senior director at Dell’Oro Group.

The company is strong in small-to-medium sized customers with education, retail and hospitals being some Extreme’s biggest customers, Boujelbene said.

SD-WAN, Intent Based Networking hotness

“It definitely is a good time for new technologies to hit the network market as wireless and wired networks especially in the markets Extreme is strong in are ripe for technology refreshment,” Boujelbene says.

Keep in mind that competitors such as HPE, Arista, Dell – not to mention Cisco which dominates networking sales – all have their eyes on this end of the market too Boujelbene added.

“Extreme has a strong story when it comes to its unified management offering but it is in a very competitive market,” she said.

Brandon Butler, a senior research analyst with IDC went a step further saying “Given Extreme’s presence in the enterprise branch, the company could strengthen its WAN (and SD-WAN) partnerships, given that cloud and SaaS app consumption in the enterprise continues to rise. Extreme is one of many companies that has built a robust network management software, which the company could more closely associate with the burgeoning Intent Based Networking (IBN) technology transition.”

IDC believes that IBN represents the next major advance of integrated visibility, automation and assurance into network management; Extreme has many of the components important to IBN technology. “Overall, Extreme has assembled a competitive portfolio of network solutions. It now needs to integrate those into a cohesive network portfolio and leverage it to expand into new market segments,” Butler says.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport loves to hustle – Roadshow

The Corvette isn’t immune to Chevy’s bevy of gadgetry, which includes a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, embedded navigation and internet-based news, sports and even shopping apps.

The Corvette isn’t immune to Chevy’s bevy of gadgetry, which includes a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, embedded navigation and internet-based news, sports and even shopping apps.

Published:July 16, 2018Caption:Photo:Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Reality Check: Taxing ‘gossip’ on the internet

Claim: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to impose a tax on “gossip” on social media has led to drop in usage.

Verdict: The tax has had a negative impact on access to social media and is proving deeply unpopular with internet users in Uganda.

Claim: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to impose a tax on “gossip” on social media has led to drop in usage.

Verdict: The tax has had a negative impact on access to social media and is proving deeply unpopular with internet users in Uganda.

At the beginning of July, President Museveni pushed through a controversial tax on social media, dismissing it as unwanted and potentially damaging gossip. Many Ugandans woke up to find social media sites blocked.

But following widespread anger and street protests, the government announced it was reviewing the decision., leaving a degree of uncertainty about the immediate future.

Some activists believe that President Museveni views social media as a potential threat to his 32-year rule.

Tax on messaging apps

The tax means that Ugandans using social media pay 200 Ugandan shillings (5 US cents or 4p) per day to their service providers for access to restricted sites.

A list of 58 websites, apps and voice-calling platforms, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Skype, are behind this pay wall.

Messaging platforms are popular with Ugandans and provide an important communication tool for businesses and local traders.

But President Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, says social media is a “luxury” and the Finance Minister, David Bahati, says the legislation has been implemented to raise funds for public services.

The Ugandan government has periodically blocked access to the entire internet, notably in the run-up to the elections in February 2016.

Protests against tax

Ugandan singer and independent MP Robert Kyagulanyi – better known on Twitter as Bobi Wine – was one of the leading protesters against the move, under the banner #ThisTaxMustGo.

Ugandan journalist and activist Lydia Namubiru told the BBC: “Young people are involved a lot in political speech online, and that political speech is gaining traction and even being translated into action on the street – and Bobi Wine is one example.”

Skip Twitter post by @HEBobiwine

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT ON THE AMENDMENT TO THE EXCISE DUTY ACT TO LEVY TAXES ON SOCIAL MEDIA USE AND MOBILE MONEY TRANSACTIONS

Convened on Friday, 6 July, 2018 at 2.00PMhttps://t.co/e4KNHVKWybpic.twitter.com/09NVHzSonv

— BOBI WINE (@HEBobiwine) July 6, 2018
Report

End of Twitter post by @HEBobiwine

So does the social media tax curb “gossip”? Well, if “gossip” means people communicating on social media, then yes, it appears to have reduced chatter.

One of the larger mobile infrastructure providers, Liquid Telecom, has reported a 75% drop in Facebook and WhatsApp usage.

“It is reasonably representative of what’s happened in the market,” according to Kyle Spencer of the Uganda Internet Exchange Point, a non-profit group that works to improve internet connectivity.

The BBC asked Twitter for data on the impact of the social media tax on usage, but the company declined to comment.

Some Ugandans have been trying to get round the tax by accessing social media platforms via wi-fi in places such as internet cafes.

But providers of wi-fi hotspots still have to pay the tax or add it to their monthly invoice in order to allow users to access social media.

Getting around restrictions

Not everyone is paying the tax. More tech-savvy Ugandans have been using virtual private network (VPN) apps, which enable them to bypass internet service providers in their country.

“VPN utilisation is hard to measure, but the data I have seen indicates a major increase,” says Kyle Spencer.

Network operators have been ordered by the Ugandan government to block VPN apps.

Many Ugandans use social media apps as their sole means of accessing the internet. People buy popular social media bundles and the tax is now slapped on these packages.

One effect of the tax could be to price out many Ugandans on low wages.

The country has one of the lowest per-capita incomes in the world – $604 a year – and a 5 cents daily rate (equivalent to $1.50 per month), a substantial sum for average citizens.

Skip Twitter post by @cipesaug

Part 1: The cost to connect for #Uganda’s poorest will jump by 10%, resulting in just 1GB of data costing them nearly 40% of their average monthly income. The richest Ugandans will experience an increase of 1% in their cost to connect! @A4A_Internet
#SocialMediaTaxpic.twitter.com/aiYTtNReky

— CIPESA (@cipesaug) July 1, 2018
Report

End of Twitter post by @cipesaug

The new tax could increase the cost of internet access for Uganda’s poorest citizens by 10%, says CIPESA, a body which supports the use of internet technology in development and poverty reduction.

It says 1GB of data costs up to 40% of average monthly income for the poorest, while for wealthy Ugandans it is obviously a much smaller burden.

The wider picture

Uganda isn’t the only African country to implement some form of internet restriction.

The US-based group Freedom House, which monitors global censorship, looked at a group of African countries between 2016 and 2017.

Their data shows Ethiopia, The Gambia and Zimbabwe have blocked social media apps, three more have shut down the internet either locally or nationally, and five countries have introduced laws increasing censorship.

They say Ethiopia is the worst offender, blocking Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, shutting down the internet during anti-government protests and passing laws criminalising an array of online activities.

Africa has the lowest levels of internet use in the world at 22%, but is experiencing the fastest growth in internet users anywhere in the world – currently increasing by 20% per year.

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6 gardening tips you’ll wish you’d known all along – CNET

When the weather gets warm, we all want to flock outside and enjoy our outdoor spaces. If your garden is more weeds than flowers, or you feel cursed with a black thumb, hope is not all lost.

When the weather gets warm, we all want to flock outside and enjoy our outdoor spaces. If your garden is more weeds than flowers, or you feel cursed with a black thumb, hope is not all lost.

This is gardening week, and we’re tackling everything you need to know about planting, watering, maintaining your lawn and growing your own food. It doesn’t matter if you have two acres or two feet of balcony space, you can create a lush garden.

What should you grow?

Before you start eyeing those succulents or lemon trees at the garden store, check your hardiness zone. These zones tell you what kinds of plants will survive in your garden all year long, depending on the average minimum winter temperature in your area. It should be your first step in determining what kinds of plants to buy — especially if you are ordering them online.

Water less, water smarter

Your lawn and garden needs water to stay healthy, but you might be watering more often than you need to. CNET’s Alina Bradford explains that you should be watering “deep” once per week. That means when you turn on the sprinklers every week, you should ensure your garden gets an inch of water.

Learn everything else you can do to water your garden more efficiently, so you save water and money.

Keep your lawn and garden healthy

A lush green lawn is a garden staple, but it’s not easy to keep looking green. Mowing correctly can go a long way. In the summer, make sure your lawn stays at about 4 inches tall. The extra height helps your grass retain more moisture in the searing sun.

Now Playing:Watch this: How to prep your lawn mower for the season
2:59

If your lawn mower has a few years on it, it’s time for maintenance. Brian Bennett shows you how to tune up your lawn mower by changing the oil, sharpening the blades, and more. Sharp blades are important to get a clean cut, which helps your grass stay healthy so it doesn’t die off during the hot summer months.

For a cheap and easy way to keep your flowers and plants looking beautiful, look to coffee grounds. What would normally get tossed out can be used all around your garden to keep pests away, enhance your soil, and beef up your compost pile. Check out Taylor Martin’s guide to five ways to use coffee in the garden.

How to grow vegetables in an apartment

No backyard? That shouldn’t stop you from creating a garden. Plenty of plants are happy grown in a pot as part of a container garden. If you have an outdoor balcony, you can grow tomatoes, green beans and other plants that require a bit more space and lots of sunlight.

If all you have room for is a few potted plants inside, you can still successfully grow herbs, carrots, lettuce and other vegetables. You won’t get as impressive a yields as you would outdoors, but you’ll still have fresh veggies at your fingertips.

Another great option is to use a Wi-Fi enabled gardening system. They take all of the guesswork by automatically giving your plants the right amount of light and water. These systems are compact, so they can fit easily on a kitchen counter or side table.

Check out CNET’s Guide to Smart Living all week long for more gardening tips.


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7 reasons your garden needs Wi-Fi – CNET

Robotic lawnmowers

Robotic lawnmowers, the Roombas of yard work, are still rather expensive, often costing upward of $1,000. But they’re beginning to come down a bit in price. And if you’re not a fan of mowing the lawn and don’t want to hire a landscaping company to do it for you, a robotic mower might be in your future.

Robotic lawnmowers

Robotic lawnmowers, the Roombas of yard work, are still rather expensive, often costing upward of $1,000. But they’re beginning to come down a bit in price. And if you’re not a fan of mowing the lawn and don’t want to hire a landscaping company to do it for you, a robotic mower might be in your future.

Of course, if you want one of these, your Wi-Fi network will at least have to reach as far as the base station.

Published:July 13, 2018Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Best wireless mesh routers 2018: the best Wi-Fi network systems for large homes

Just imagine for a second: you’re sitting in your upstairs bedroom, trying to watch some Netflix, but you keep being interrupted by that dreaded buffering icon – we’ve all been there.

Just imagine for a second: you’re sitting in your upstairs bedroom, trying to watch some Netflix, but you keep being interrupted by that dreaded buffering icon – we’ve all been there. If this is something that happens to you often, you have a couple options open to you: you can either pick up some wireless range extenders or one of the best wireless mesh routers.

With the best wireless mesh routers, you just place several nodes in key areas of your home, and you’ll get a strong, unified Wi-Fi network no matter where you are. This is different from the way range extenders work, which just take the Wi-Fi signal from the best wireless routers and repeats it, extending its range. The problem with this approach it requires a separate SSID for the extender, as it’s essentially creating a second network. This is a gigantic pain if you need to set up more than one extender, or if you tend to move around your house a lot.

In the past, though, the best wireless mesh routers required a rigorous knowledge of the ins and outs of wireless networking. Thankfully, those days are over. In 2018, mesh routers like the Google Wifi have made it extremely easy to set up a Wi-Fi network that covers your entire home: just download an app, hit a few buttons and you’re good to go.

However, the best wireless mesh routers can get expensive, and can require some technical know-how in order to figure out what’s best for your home. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. We went ahead and picked out the five best wireless mesh routers we’ve been fortunate enough to test and review. Let’s dive in, shall we?

We’re not exaggerating when we say the Google Wifi isn’t just the best Wi-Fi mesh router we’ve ever used, but also the best wireless router period. Not only does it have the power to push fast Wi-Fi throughout your home – despite how small it is – but it’s also affordable and easy to set-up at the same time. Seriously, all you have to do to setup Google Wifi is download an app to your smartphone, scan some QR codes and just place the nodes where you want them to go. It couldn’t be easier – Google has mastered the router game, it’s almost unfair.

Read the full review: Google Wifi

If you’ve got the cash for it, the Netgear Orbi might be one of the best Wi-Fi mesh routers on the market today. Instead of something like the Google Wifi, which uses three identical nodes to setup your network, you’ll get one main router, then a collection of nodes to plug into power outlets around your house. And, because of the sheer number of Ethernet ports found on the Orbi, it’s a great choice for anyone who has a lot of devices that need a hardwired connection – making it the best option for anyone who uses their network primarily for gaming.

Read the full review:Netgear Orbi

If you’re just looking for a way to spread Wi-Fi throughout your home and want to save a few bucks while you’re at it, you might want to take a look at the TP-Link Deco M5. It may not be as fast as some of the other Wi-Fi mesh routers on this list, but if you’re not necessarily worried about getting the maximum theoretical throughput – which you likely wouldn’t be able to take advantage of anyway – it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Setup, much like the other devices here, is a breeze and is approachable even if you don’t know anything about tech. The TP-Link Deco M5 might be one of the best Wi-Fi mesh routers for anyone intimidated by technology.

Read the full review: TP-Link Deco M5

If you’re the kind of person that gets into Apple’s design philosophy and you like having chic gadgets set up throughout your home, without paying much attention to the price – the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD will be right up your alley. If you live in a large home, and can take advantage of the full power that this mesh Wi-Fi setup offers, you’ll find a lot to love, as it’s capable of a huge amount of throughput. However, you might find that the value diminishes quite a bit when you live in a small to medium space, as there are more cost-effective methods available, but they don’t look quite as good. The Ubiquiti Amplifi HD may be expensive, but you’re paying for a piece of tech that has both style and substance – we think it’s worth it.

Read the full review: Ubiquiti Amplifi HD

While it’s expensive and not as powerful as the rest of the Wi-Fi mesh routers, there’s something to be said about the simplicity that the Linksys Velop affords. It may be more expensive than the competition, but the Velop will appeal to people who need to set up a Wi-Fi network without the headache of, well, setting it up. More tech-savvy users probably won’t be interested – why spend the money when you can do all the work yourself, right? For most people, though, the Linksys Velop is going to be an excellent choice. It’s also fully modular, so you only have to pick up as many nodes as you actually need – one node will cover up to 2,000 square feet.

Read the full review:Linksys Velop

Phone data usage growth is slow in the US, despite unlimited data – CNET

Mobile data isn’t exactly on the fast road to growth in the US these days.

A Tefficient report published on Tuesday said in 2017 the US had one of the lowest rates of growth in mobile data usage, 11 percent, across the world.

Mobile data isn’t exactly on the fast road to growth in the US these days.

A Tefficient report published on Tuesday said in 2017 the US had one of the lowest rates of growth in mobile data usage, 11 percent, across the world. Only Greece (8 percent) and Canada (6 percent) had a lower rate of growth. Hong Kong (17 percent) and Latvia (13 percent) rounded out the bottom five.

Tefficient found the US results “surprising,” given the wide availability of unlimited data plans. In Hong Kong, meanwhile, abundant Wi-Fi networks likely offloaded much mobile data traffic, and in Canada there may be a connection between low usage and mobile providers’ high revenue per consumed gigabyte, according to the report.

Fredrik Jungermann, managing director and founder of Tefficient, said in an email that several things could have contributed to the slow growth in the US.

A main reason, he said, could be restrictions on internet speeds, which would hamper downloads and streaming. Another factor could be that the unlimited plans are too expensive for some consumers, who opted for lower-cost plans from services like MetroPCS and Virgin. Wi-Fi availability may also have been a culprit.

Some of the highest-growth countries were India at 303 percent, Lithuania at 181 percent and China at 152 percent.

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