Saturday, February 20, 2016

Xclaim XI3 review


1)Intro
2)Features
3)Setup
4)Wireless configuration
5)Throughput tests (Wireless/Wired)
6)Closing Notes
Intro: The Xclaim XI3 is an SMB  level wireless access point that is  somewhat affordable for small to medium businesses, has some decent features and can tolerate a a fair amount of usage.
Features: The Xclaim XI3 features the following:
1) Dual band 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz operation with 2x2 MIMO connectivity at up to 1200Mbps
2) 1 wired Gigabit LAN port
3) 4 2x2 mimo  x3dBi  dual band internal SMA antennas with 30dBm output power for great wireless coverage and can also be upgraded for even better range.
4) SSIDs with configurable VLANs for each one providing more security then standard guest networks
5) VLAN configuration
6) Traffic shaping (QoS) and firewall controls
7) Client connectivity details and monitoring.
8) Fixed and DHCP client address assignments
9) And  more
Setup:
1) Done with the Harmony android app or thru the local config. Mine was initially done with the mobile app, however I switched it to the local browser based config. When the product first came out it was managed with a mobile app ONLY. They later added web config and later a “cloud manager” as well.
2) My setup went pretty smooth and it works fine over PoE   
Main status page (CloudManager):

Here’s the WLAN config screens:
Radio Settings:

AP Main Settings:

Local config gallery of focus areas:






The Xclaim XI3 supports WPA/WPA2 and supports PSK and Enterprise authentication types that can be different for each SSID. Selecting “Enterprise” allows you to use RADIUS Authentication, which allows you to define a username and password rather then a static key, allowing for more fine control over your wireless network. User based controls allow you to define limits PER USER so that if let’s say, they get fired, you just delete thier user account and not have to change the ENTIRE NETWORK’S encryption key.
Traffic Shaping:
You can do traffic shaping to make sure each client has equal bandwidth and also to make sure certain clients that are more important have more bandwidth then other clients like important servers, mission critical workstations, etc. Very useful.
Throughput Tests: (Wireless)
I will be using LAN Speed test for the throughput tests and PRTG to generate the graphs. It also is a comprehensive enterprise level network monitoring software and it can record uptime, transfer rates, errors, etc.
Test environment: (Set 1)
Specs of Building: This is going through about 32 ft through 2 walls, a solid all-wood dresser, and a chimney. The room has plaster walls in some places.
Specs of server :(my machine in the same room as theXclaim XI3): Intel i5 3570K/16GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Realtek GBE NIC
Specs of client: (remote machine in other room): AGNXAndrakon/AMD Phenom 9650/6GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/ASUS AC53 USB
5Ghz 802.11anac mode: Channel 36 -33dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 30Mbytes/sec or 240Mbits/sec


2.4 GHz 802.11n mode: Channel 1 -46dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 7Mbytes/sec or 56Mbits/sec

Test environment: (Set 2)
Specs of Building Test Run 1: 16Ft away thru a wood door hallway right outside the office where the Xclaim XI3 is located.
Specs of server (my machine in the same room as theXclaim XI3): Intel i5 3570K/16GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Realtek GBE NIC
Specs of client: HP2000-412NR/AMD E300/8GB DDR3 RAM/500GB SSHD /AMD RADEON 6310/Windows 7 x64 Home Premium/RalinkRT5390 WLAN
2.4 GHz 802.11n mode: Channel 1 -36dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 5Mbytes/sec or 40Mbits/sec

Same system New WLAN USB (Edimax AC600)
5.0Ghz 802.11ac mode channel 36 -29dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 10Mbytes/sec or 80Mbits/sec

Conclusion:
The Xclaim XI3 Wireless Access Point is a decent cloud managed wireless access point. It has good 5Ghz connectivity, and a nice cloud managed UI.
Pros:
Ø Decent management software with an average amount of options
Ø Pretty solid 5Ghz throughput and stability
Ø Very easy to learn and use
Ø Cloud does not need license fees
Cons:
Ø Pricey
Ø Not enough mgmt controls
Rating:  5/10
Recommended: Maybe

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Denon Heos vs SONOS




Denon Heos vs SONOS
This is one of the review quickies.
This is a review that compares the DENON HEOS to the SONOS PLAYBAR
First off the specs of each are the following presented in a comparison table, where the differences are presented accordingly.
HEOS HomeCinema
SONOS PLAYBAR
Connectivity (a/v)
HDMI x2/ HDMI (ARC), optical, coax, aux (3.5mm),
Optical only (SPDIF standard connector)
Connectivity (Network)
RJ45, Dual band 802.11N wifi (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz)
2xRJ45 ETH x2 and 2.4Ghz 802.11G only
Software controllers
Android 2.3 or higher and Apple iOS app based controllers
Android 2.3 or higher, iOS controller app, Windows (PC) controller app for windows 7 or higher
Speaker config and specs:
2 x tweeters and 2 x woofers in main and 2 x woofers in included subwoofer
6 x woofers and 3 x tweeters
Subwoofer included
Yes
No (extra 700USD approx)
Night modes
Yes
Yes
Includes cables
Yes
Yes
Setup comparison (hardware/software)
Both soundbars seem to be made well on the hardware end and they both don’t feel cheap
They both had great cables included and plugged in fine to my A/V gear.
Here’s a table outlining my experience with setup and config of both units:
HEOS HomeCinema
SONOS PLAYBAR
Ease of installing app
4/5 (app install was short)
3/5 (app install took longer)
Wifi association
5/5 (worked the first time
3/5 (took a few attempts)
Input selection
5/5 (lots of inputs and worked great on RokuTV and RCA 32 In LCD TV)
1/5 (Only optical for TVs, worked fine on RokuTV but took a long time to actually output audio)
Music server/services
4/5 (worked great with both local and streaming, however some playlists were out of order on emby and serviio servers [DLNA], recognized very quickly though and work well)
3/5 (does not directly have DLNA servers displayed, one must input manual, exact paths to servers vs having them be discovered in app, other services work well though
Sound quality:
Both soundbars have pretty good sound quality. I’ve tested with several movies and types of music.
Here’s a rundown of the highs and lows of both units:
HEOS HomeCinema
SONOS PLAYBAR
Music (all genres)
No distortion
Some distortion on lower frequencies when low freq turned up past 1.4th
Movies
Volume was pretty normal, other than the sub slightly being overpowered, I recommend lower than 1/3rd the way up. Night mode is awesome though and sound range is still full and voices are still hearable. Sub doesn’t constrain either.
Seemed to be a blur and slur on some frequencies, treble needs to be turned way up for movies and then turned way down for music. Night mode can restrain sound and it sounds a bit off. Voices are harder to hear in night mode
Overall Performance:
Both soundbars have done relatively well as a whole, however I’ve presented the high and low points of both:
HEOS HomeCinema
SONOS PLAYBAR
Connectivity perf (A/V)
had some issues with maintaining audioconnectivity with roku TV sometimes and needed to just open the app and let it sit for a while and connectivity would resume, updates have corrected it though and it's gotten much better. No CEC or control issues that often either
Had some issues with lag and took a while to get going with the RokuTV. Does not work with RCA dumb TVs that are made around 2010. Optical does not work with them and requires purchase of a new TV to make work. No workarounds without expensive converters
Connectivity perf (Network)
Maintains good connectivity overall, however takes a long time to reconnect. However is
Full dual band N and works well
Maintains good connectivity, however it takes a very long time to connect and re-associate and also only works in wireless G standard which is very extremely dated and also delivers inferior streaming quality.
Services
Works great with media servers (local and online)
Works ok with online services, however local streaming lacks
Overall
4/5
3/5
Closing thoughts:
Both soundbars are “The” ones to have, however for those that seek ultimate compatibility with thier A/V gear should go with the Denon offering, as well as being able to interface with local media servers like Plex, Emby, ServIIO, or other DLNA offerings. Those that have a TV that has no issues with optical, have a simple wifi network, and not use DLNA could benifit from the SONOS, however, SONOS remains vulnerable to being phased out when network admins start to block 802.11G clients or traffic shape them to the point they no longer work, and the lack of HDMI/ARC and other inputs can be a problem for those that have older TVs or ones that drop outdated optical in favor of HDMI or wireless. The fact, also, that SONOS has no dual band wifi will scare people away that have too much 802.11 2.4Ghz congestion, as it RELIIES on it. The HEOS uses dual band which is best in most congested environments. I could not, also get the SONOS to work with many older TVs that lack the HDCP support to support HDMI device output to an optical source like outputting the Roku 1 over HDMI to the SONOS Playbar’s optical. You can’t do that on tons of TVs and it needs to be fixed. I can do that with the HEOS but not the SONOS. SONOS chose simplicity over compatibility and this is where it failed. Also SONOS charges and extra 700 some USD for the subwoofer while DENON includes it. The high points for SONOS are the fact it can be administered via a PC controller app so you don’t need a smartphone to manage it is nice. I wish DENON had that. However DENON has a much more refined app experience.  
Overall the ratings for both are as follows:
Denon HEOS: 4.5/5
SONOS Playbar: 3.5/5