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Tech You Need in 2015: Router Upgrades and More

Ken Kaplan Executive Editor, iQ by Intel

Analysts explain why advances in wireless router and built-in camera technologies will be a big deal this year.

Year after year, digital devices seem to get smarter but not always enough so to justify replacing our trusty gizmos. There are three essential technologies worth upgrading this year.

“There are some real no-brainers that people should upgrade in 2015,” said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

Most installed home routers today were designed to handle three simultaneous connections, each providing up to 1mbps Internet line, he said.

“With the addition of phones, tablets, streaming services, wireless speakers and thermostats, the number of devices connecting to home routers is skyrocketing.”

Each household in the United States and United Kingdom operates eight connected devices, according Martin Garner, analyst at CCS Insight, who sees “Connected Home” and “Internet of Everything” gaining massive momentum in 2015.

All of this requires a router or gateway to connect to the Internet.

“Most routers in world today need to be replaced,” he said.

They’re overloaded with more devices than ever before, but new routers are built with better technologies that can take advantage of higher download and upload speeds being offered by many internet services providers.

New wireless routers are built with technology called 802.11ac, which is three times faster and more stable than the now outdated 802.11bgn wireless technology.

Also called 5G Wi-Fi, 802.11ac was introduced in 2012 and provides up to 1733Mbps of wireless connection speed. It works with new and older Wi-Fi-equipped devices.

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“A router is something that you buy when you absolutely have to, and we often get something on the low end that just works,” he said.

That needs to change.

“Spend as much as you can reasonably you can afford otherwise it’s like buying a car and not paying attention to the engine,” said Garner.

Having a new modem can lead to a much better system overall, said Garner, because they are smarter and provide quality services by giving the optimal connect speed to particular devices. They can watch how each app loads and tune for best overall performance.

“Some even have cloud services behind them for storage and accessing with different devices,” he said.

He recently bought the Netgear R700, which is a dual-band router that PC Magazine called “one of the top 802.11ac routers currently on the market for heavy-duty throughput tasks.” As of late December, it was selling for about $190.

Negear’s R8000 is among the top-of-the-line modems built to handle many devices at once. As of late December was priced at about $280.

It’s designed to handle multiple devices on one network. It puts out a tri-band of Wi-Fi rays designed to give older devices 2.4Ghz connection that reach up to 600Mbps speeds.

There is also a 5Ghz ray reaching speeds of up to 1.3Gbps for dual-band devices and third ray for 5 GHz for new dual-band AC Wi-Fi devices, which can also reach data speeds of up to 1.3 GHz.

Garner expects to see 900 different networking gear companies showing off new routers at the year-starting 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show, more than past years.

RealSenseCamera

The other technology that could spur desires for device upgrades focuses on built-in cameras that are bringing human vision to laptops and even tablets and all-in-one PCs.

Camera tech is evolving beyond the race for more megapixels into the world of 3D, said Wood.

“It’s not just a camera anymore; it’s another sensor,” he said. “These technologies have the capability to really advance the experience you can get.”

These cameras provide enhanced photography capabilities such as focus changing and the ability to measure heights and distances unlike today’s built-in cameras, said Wood.

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Dell Venue 8 tablets will let you use the camera to measure things so you can see if a couch can fit into a particular room.”

Growing consumer interest in 3D printing means these devices can be used to create 3D renderings that can be printed out.

These 3D cameras may be one reason to upgrade an old laptop, but Moorhead points out another.

“If your PC is three to four years old, you should seriously consider upgrading,” he said.

“That next notebook could be two to three-times more powerful, depending on the workload. It could be 40 percent thinner, half the weight with twice the battery life and could convert into a large tablet. That’s a powerful value proposition.”

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