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Next-Gen
802.11ac Wi-Fi
Intel Special Edition
by David Angell
Next-Gen 802.11ac Wi-Fi For Dummies®, Intel Special Edition
Published by
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Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Connecting to Your Digital Life............... 1
About This Book.............................................................2
Your Wi-Fi Powered Life.................................................2
Revving Up Your Wi-Fi Connectivity............................4
What 802.11ac Means to You........................................6
Chapter 2: Getting Wi-Fi Smart.................................. 7
Wi-Fi Rides on Radio Waves..........................................7
Deciphering Wi-Fi Standards.........................................8
One Speed to Multispeed...............................................9
Why 802.11ac Wi-Fi Is Better.........................................9
It Takes Two to Wi-Fi....................................................12
Using Wi-Fi in the Real World......................................14
Chapter 3: Choosing the Right Wi-Fi....................... 17
Don’t Settle for 802.11n................................................17
Backward to the Future................................................19
Good 802.11ac Starts at Home....................................19
Which Wi-Fi Is Inside?...................................................20
Experiencing the Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi Difference........21
Chapter 4: Top Ten Shopping Tips........................... 25
Intel Disclaimers
Software and workloads used in performance tests may
have been optimized for performance only on Intel microprocessors. Performance tests, such as SYSmark and
MobileMark, are measured using specific computer systems, components, software, operations, and functions.
Any change to any of those factors may cause the results
to vary. You should consult other information and performance tests to assist you in fully evaluating your contemplated purchases, including the performance of that
product when combined with other products.
References to 802.11n and 802.11ac performance are based
on theoretical bandwidth maximums enabled by 802.11n
and 802.11ac implementations. Actual throughput will vary
on your specific device operating system, hardware, software configurations, and environmental conditions.
Intel® WiFi HotSpot Assistant requires an Intel wireless
adapter, Intel® PROSet/Wireless Software v15.6 or later,
and an Internet connection for completing the first-time
registration process.
Intel® Smart Connect Technology requires a select Intel®
processor, Intel® software and BIOS update, Intel®
Wireless adaptor, and Internet connectivity. Solid state
memory or drive equivalent may be required. Depending
on system configuration, your results may vary. Contact
your system manufacturer for more information.
Intel® Wireless Display requires an Intel® Wireless Display
enabled system, a compatible adapter, and a TV. 1080p
and Blu-Ray or other protected content playback only
available on select Intel® processor based systems with
built-in visuals enabled, a compatible adapter and media
player, and supporting Intel® WiDi software and graphics
driver installed. Consult your PC manufacturer.
Chapter 1
Connecting to Your Digital Life
In This Chapter
▶ Experiencing your congested, connected life now
▶ Moving to the fast lane with 802.11ac Wi-Fi
▶Counting the ways 802.11ac will change your
­connected life
T
oday’s digital life is all about connections. You connect to the cloud (the Internet) for everyday tasks
such as working, searching, and shopping. You connect
to communicate via email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Skype,
and more. You connect to stream movies and videos
from Netflix and YouTube and to share photo albums.
And this is only the beginning of Wi-Fi connectivity.
Now you (and many others!) are doing these activities
simultaneously across and between laptops, tablets,
smartphones, and a growing number of Wi-Fi enabled
consumer electronics and even appliances.
Wi-Fi is essential to the connected life, but all this traffic
from all these devices is clogging your connectivity. The
Wi-Fi of yesterday is in gridlock and even today’s faster
802.11n is struggling to keep up. Fasten your seat belts!
With 802.11ac, the next generation of Wi-Fi has arrived,
ready to put your connected life back in the fast lane.
2
About This Book
If you’re thinking about buying a Wi-Fi enabled device
or upgrading your Wi-Fi network at home, this is the
book for you. In today’s highly connected life, you can’t
afford to view Wi-Fi as an afterthought.
Think of this book as a practical “connectivity consciousness” guide designed to help you become Wi-Fi
smart so that you can avoid underpowered Wi-Fi products and choose the best wireless experience for your
connected life today and tomorrow.
This book includes three icons that highlight special
information for easy recall:
This icon flags information that you should
remember when making decisions.
You’ll find shortcuts and recommendations
when text sports this icon.
Watch out! This icon flags information that
could cause you some trouble if you don’t pay
attention.
Your Wi-Fi Powered Life
Wi-Fi is so popular because it uses an unlicensed wireless spectrum (and is therefore free for public use)
and is based on standards that ensure interoperability
across devices, regardless of the manufacturer.
Through Wi-Fi, people are able to constantly connect
at home, at work, and in public places such as airports
and cafés. New devices have dropped their cables and
added Wi-Fi to connect to the cloud and directly to
each other.
3
No device is an island
The same wireless convenience that you enjoy in your
mobile computing devices is driving the explosion of Wi-Fi
in consumer electronics and appliances, making them
smart, or capable of accessing the cloud and other devices.
You can now find Wi-Fi in thermostats, cameras, flash
drives, TVs, Blu-Ray players, and even refrigerators. In the
future, you’ll see Wi-Fi in a lot more devices and places.
The Wi-Fi Direct standard lets you easily connect devices directly to each other via Wi-Fi.
You don’t even need a Wi-Fi access point.
Learn more at www.wi-fi.org/discoverand-learn/wi-fi-direct.
Wi-Fi traffic congestion
The enormous popularity of Wi-Fi attracts people and
their devices like a giant magnet. With the rapid growth
of data-heavy uses (such as higher-quality HD or BluRay video streaming), more folks using and staying
connected to the cloud, and more and more Wi-Fi
enabled devices in use, is it any surprise that Wi-Fi networks are becoming crowded?
Did you know?
✓ Wi-Fi traffic will increase 200 percent by 2015.
✓ By 2015, 60 percent of Wi-Fi traffic will be video.
✓ More Wi-Fi video is consumed in the bedroom than in
any other room.
✓ Of all Wi-Fi video consumed at home, 10 percent is from
the bathroom.
4
All this congestion is already straining the capabilities
of the last Wi-Fi standard, 802.11n, and slowing down
your digital life. For example, downloading a 10GB
video can take up to 48 minutes using 802.11n but only
about 4 minutes using the new 802.11ac standard!
And as the quality of video improves and the number
of users grows, the demands for more capacity follow.
Streaming a single web video takes up to 8 Mbps capacity, an HDTV-quality video takes up to 25 Mbps, and
Blu-Ray videos take up to 40 Mbps. The answer? More
bandwidth to keep everything moving, as shown in
Figure 1-1. You need more bandwidth today and you’ll
need even more of it tomorrow.
Revving Up Your Wi-Fi
Connectivity
The latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, is a quantum leap
in connectivity capabilities. New wireless technology
breakthroughs underlying 802.11ac let it race past
802.11n in four core areas:
✓
Speed: 802.11ac delivers data more quickly than
802.11n, with speeds up to six times faster. That’s
speedy enough to transfer an entire HD movie in a
few minutes, share photo albums with friends in a
matter of seconds, or stream multiple Blu-Ray
videos at the same time.
✓
Capacity: 802.11ac delivers more data simultaneously to more devices than 802.11n. Now your
home Wi-Fi can handle the growing number of
devices while supporting higher quality video
streaming, bigger downloads, and other dataheavy online activities.
5
Figure 1-1: Bandwidth is the size of the data pipe.
6
✓
Coverage: 802.11ac delivers more speed at further
distances than 802.11n for better home coverage.
✓
Battery life: Because data is transferred more
quickly under 802.11ac, your devices can use less
power. That savings, in turn, means your devices
can go longer without recharging.
What 802.11ac Means to You
What does 802.11ac mean to you? When your devices
are 802.11ac enabled, you can
✓
Protect your investments: Getting the right Wi-Fi
is about future-proofing your device investments.
If you purchase a device with underpowered Wi-Fi
inside, you’re stuck in the slow lane for the life of
the device.
✓
Save time: Think about the amount of time you
spend connected to your digital life. Wouldn’t
you want faster Wi-Fi so you can spend less time
waiting?
✓
Stream with ease: Faster speeds enhance your
streaming movie, video, and gaming experiences.
✓
Connect more people: Additional capacity
means enjoying richer content on more devices
simultaneously.
✓
Thrive in a crowded Wi-Fi world: Faster, better
Wi-Fi improves your connected life experience
even as hotspots get more crowded.
Chapter 2
Getting Wi-Fi Smart
In This Chapter
▶ Making sense of Wi-Fi standards
▶ Shifting from one speed to multispeed Wi-Fi
▶ Understanding why 802.11ac Wi-Fi is better
▶ Connecting Wi-Fi devices to access points
▶ Using Wi-Fi in the real world
E
verything around you is getting Wi-Fi smart. Now
it’s your turn. A basic understanding of the key
technologies that power wireless networks and how
next-gen 802.11ac is better will make you Wi-Fi smart
when shopping for your next connected device.
Wi-Fi Rides on Radio Waves
Wi-Fi uses radio waves to send and receive information. In fact, Wi-Fi connections are a lot like two-way
radio communications. A PC or other Wi-Fi device
translates data into a radio signal and transmits it using
an antenna. A wireless access point receives the signal,
decodes it, and then sends the info to the Internet. The
process also works in reverse.
8
Deciphering Wi-Fi Standards
Table 2-1 shows the progression of 802.11 Wi-Fi standards. As you can see, each new standard sports a different letter: 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11n, and so on. (The
IEEE has run out of these single-letter designations,
hence the new double-letter designation 802.11ac.)
There are also designations for related 802.11 technologies, such as 802.11i for Wi-Fi security.
Table 2-1
Speed and Standards
Standard
Release Date
Max Speed
802.11b
1999
11 Mbps
802.11a
1999
54 Mbps
802.11g
2002
54 Mbps
802.11n
2007
72–600 Mbps
802.11ac
2013
433 Mbps–1.3 Gbps
These speeds are never achieved in the real
world. Real-world data speeds take into account
the effects of wireless network overhead and
environmental factors. For more on this topic,
see “Think throughput,” later in this chapter.
Wi-Fi products support earlier standards for backward
compatibility. This multistandard support is typically
referenced as 802.11bgn (or 802.11b/g/n), 802.11agn
(802.11a/g/n), and so on. These combined designations
have deeper meanings than just pure speed, as you discover later in the chapter.
9
One Speed to Multispeed
Each of the original 802.11 standards (802.11a, b, and g)
supported up to one maximum speed. For example, any
device with 802.11g Wi-Fi can reach a maximum speed
of 54 Mbps.
The arrival of 802.11n presented a range of maximum
speeds within a single standard. The wide range of
speeds available with 802.11n — 72 Mbps to 600 Mbps —
is a result of the standard’s support for multiple antennas and data streams (enabled by multiple-input
multiple-output, or MIMO, technology). This support
increased the range, speed, and reliability of Wi-Fi
networks.
Why 802.11ac Wi-Fi Is Better
So why would you want to choose 802.11ac Wi-Fi
anyway? In this section, you get your answer and also
discover the differences in 802.11ac products.
Better MIMO
Earlier 802.11a/b/g networks relied on a single antenna
and a single data stream. With the introduction of the
802.11n specification, Wi-Fi could harness the power of
up to three antennas and streams to dramatically
improve speed, range, and reliability.
802.11ac builds on these improvements with the capability to transmit to and receive from multiple users at
the same time (instead of one at a time) by using multiuser MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology. 802.11ac supports
up to three antennas and streams today and will be
able to support up to eight antennas in the future.
10
Fatter streams of joy
The number of antennas in a Wi-Fi product determines
the number of streams available. These multiple streams
transmit data simultaneously over different paths that
are then combined at the receiving Wi-Fi device to
increase the receiver signal’s capturing capabilities.
Both 802.11ac and 802.11n support multiple streams.
However, each stream supports only 150 Mbps in
802.11n but up to 433 Mbps in 802.11ac — three times
the speed per stream.
The number of antennas (and therefore streams) differentiates the performance capabilities in the 802.11n
and 802.11ac standards. More antennas and streams
mean not only faster speeds but also fewer dead zones,
fewer dropped connections, and better coverage.
Translation: You can save time, view smoother videos,
and move around more freely with fewer interruptions.
In the vernacular of the new multispeed Wi-Fi standards, the number of send and receive antennas and
stream configurations are noted as 1x1 (one antenna
supporting one data stream), 2x2 (two antennas supporting two data streams), and 3x3. Table 2-2 compares
the performance of antenna and stream configurations
in the 802.11n and 802.11ac standards.
Table 2-2
Performance by the Numbers
Configuration
Max Speed for
802.11n
Max Speed for
802.11ac
1x1
150 Mbps
433 Mbps
2x2
300 Mbps
867 Mbps
3x3
450 Mbps
1.3 Gbps
11
I’m with the 5 GHz band
Wi-Fi works over two spectrum bands: 2.4 GHz and
5 GHz. Older 802.11bgn uses the 2.4 GHz frequency,
which is a crowded space and subject to more interference because it’s widely used by cordless phones,
baby monitors, Bluetooth devices, and even microwave
ovens. The 5 GHz frequency, which 802.11a, 802.11n,
and 802.11ac use, provides five times the capacity of
2.4 GHz and is considerably less crowded, which means
less interference.
Wi-Fi products that support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz are
dual band, which means that they support both frequencies for backward compatibility. 802.11bgn Wi-Fi
products are single band, which means they support
only the 2.4 GHz band.
Choose dual-band Wi-Fi products for complete
backward compatibility with the widest range
of Wi-Fi standards.
Double wide to quadruple wide
Just as a multilane highway handles more traffic than a
single-lane highway, the 5 GHz band handles a lot more
traffic than the 2.4 GHz band because it has more lanes,
or channels.
Combining, or bonding, these channels increases their
capacity. 802.11n bonded two 20 MHz–wide channels
into a single double-wide 40 MHz channel. 802.11ac
bonds four 20 MHz channels into a super-wide 80 MHz
channel. In the future, 802.11ac products will support
an autobahn-wide 160 MHz channel.
12
It Takes Two to Wi-Fi
At the center of any Wi-Fi network or hotspot is a
device called an access point, or AP. The AP connects
Wi-Fi enabled devices (clients) to the broadband link
that leads to the Internet, as shown in Figure 2-1. At
home, your Wi-Fi AP typically connects to a cable
modem or a DSL modem.
An AP product includes router functionality to route
data between your cable or DSL modem and multiple
devices on your Wi-Fi network. The router is what lets
you share the broadband link to the Internet.
Most 802.11ac devices available now support
dual band and 3x3 (three antennas and three
streams). Supporting dual band allows the AP
to broadcast both a 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi
network. Your older Wi-Fi devices can connect
to the 2.4GHz network while your 802.11ac
devices connect to the 5GHz network for maximum speed and capacity. (See Chapter 3 for
more information.)
To connect to the Wi-Fi AP, each device must have a
Wi-Fi adapter, which is built into the device by the
manufacturer. As a consumer, you will need to find out
which Wi-Fi standards the adapter supports. (See
Chapter 3 for details.)
To achieve the data speeds of a given 802.11
standard, both the AP and the client’s Wi-Fi
adapter must support the same maximum
­configuration. For example, if you have an
802.11ac 3x3 AP and an 802.11ac 2x2 adapter,
13
the maximum data rate reaches up to 867 Mbps.
If the 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter is 1x1, the maximum speed drops to the capability of the 1x1
adapter, which is 433 Mbps.
Figure 2-1: Anatomy of a Wi-Fi network.
14
Using Wi-Fi in the Real World
Wi-Fi products are often touted by their raw maximum
speeds. In the real world, however, the difference
between the raw maximum speed and what you actually get is staggering.
Because Wi-Fi is wireless, it’s affected by the physics of
wireless transmissions, network overhead, user congestion, distance, obstacles (such as walls), interference, and more. All these things combine to rob speed.
But don’t worry — even with all these road bumps, a
lot of speed remains available with 802.11ac.
Think throughput
When it comes to estimating what Wi-Fi performance will
be in the real world, think throughput. Throughput, which
is a more accurate measurement of Wi-Fi network speed,
takes into account all the bits eaten up by network overhead and environmental factors.
Maintaining the dependable operation and security of a
wireless network reduces a product’s raw speed by 30
to 50 percent. Environmental factors (such as walls,
floors, and other barriers) also affect wireless signals,
as do your distance from the access point and the
number of clients using the Wi-Fi network. Throughput
is not an unchanging and exact number but rather a
more realistic gauge of what you can expect for any
given Wi-Fi speed claim.
Although the touted data-rate speeds don’t
happen in the real world, they still serve as a
useful benchmark. In general, the higher the
data-rate speed, the higher the corresponding
throughput.
15
Sharing, the good and the bad
One of the great things about Wi-Fi is its capability to
share Internet connections across devices in a hotspot.
However, all these devices compete for access through
the same Wi-Fi network, so the more devices that
people connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot, the more traffic they
create and the slower the speed for everyone.
Talking real speeds
Throughput helps you get a grasp of how the raw
speeds touted for a Wi-Fi product translate to the type
of performance you may actually get at home with multiple users and devices. Here’s the basic formula:
Max throughput = (max data rate ÷ 2) ÷ number of
clients
The underlying assumption is that both your Wi-Fi AP
and your client are using the same Wi-Fi standard and
configuration. For example, the maximum data rate for
802.11ac 2x2 is 867 Mbps.
The “max data rate ÷ by 2” part of the equation broadly
estimates actual throughput by taking into account network overhead and environmental factors. That number
is then divided by the number of clients sharing the
bandwidth to arrive at the maximum throughput.
The throughput formula doesn’t take into
account that data rate and throughput
decrease as clients move away from the AP.
The following shows how the data rate for an 802.11ac
2x2 device decreases as you add clients:
16
(867 Mbps ÷ 2) ÷ 1 client = ~433 Mbps per client
(867 Mbps ÷ 2) ÷ 2 clients = ~216 Mbps per client
(867 Mbps ÷ 2) ÷ 3 clients = ~144 Mbps per client
What seemed like way more speed than you would ever
need shrinks to speeds that you do need. The higher
the maximum data rate, the more throughput.
Chapter 3
Choosing the Right Wi-Fi
In This Chapter
▶ Seeing the benefits of 802.11ac versus 802.11n
▶ Ensuring backward compatibility
▶ Using 802.11ac in the home
▶ Finding which Wi-Fi is inside
▶ Experiencing the Intel difference
R
ecognizing how essential Wi-Fi is to the quality of
your connected life experience makes choosing
the right Wi-Fi product a no-brainer: Go with 802.11ac.
In this chapter, you find out how to be a smart buyer of
Wi-Fi enabled devices and tips for upgrading your
home Wi-Fi network.
Don’t Settle for 802.11n
Are you considering the purchase of a new notebook,
desktop PC, tablet, or other Wi-Fi enabled device? You
shouldn’t assume that it has 802.11ac Wi-Fi inside
because many devices still include the slower 802.11bgn
Wi-Fi adapters.
18
To make sure you’re getting 802.11ac, you need to look
under the hood, as described later, in the “Which Wi-Fi
Is Inside?” section.
Which Wi-Fi standard is inside will play a big
role in the quality of your connectivity experience over the life of the device.
More flavors than Baskin-Robbins
The days of two basic types of PCs are gone. Today, you have
a wide range of PC choices beyond just tower desktops and
laptops:
✓ All-in-ones integrate the system’s components into the
display unit. As a result, these smaller systems are easy
to place in the kitchen or family room. All-in-one PCs typically incorporate a touchscreen.
✓ Tablets are thin, one-piece, mobile, touchscreen-operated computers primarily used for a wide range of cloudbased activities.
✓ Ultrabooks, the latest generation of slim, lightweight, and
powerful notebooks, deliver a balance between portability and performance.
✓ Convertibles are notebook computers that you can
switch to a tablet by moving the display so that it faces up.
✓ 2 in 1s, the newest type of PC, can operate as a traditional notebook or as a free-standing tablet by detaching
the display.
19
Backward to the Future
The Wi-Fi universe includes different Wi-Fi standards.
As you cruise from hotspot to hotspot, you never know
what to expect in terms of performance emanating
from the access point (AP). 802.11ac products are
backwardly compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n hotspots.
But when an 802.11ac hotspot is available, your
802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter shifts you to the fast lane. And
as 802.11ac hotspots multiply, you’ll be cruising in the
fast lane more often.
Good 802.11ac Starts at Home
A Wi-Fi AP is one of the most important pieces of computer equipment in your home. It connects all your
Wi-Fi enabled gadgets to one another and to the cloud.
An 802.11ac AP can easily handle the ever-growing load
of Wi-Fi devices as well as data-heavy apps such as
video streaming and gaming.
Choose a dual-band 3x3 802.11ac AP. It supports the current top speeds of the 802.11ac
standard as well as the 2.4 GHz band for your
802.11b/g/n devices.
The leading Wi-Fi 802.11ac AP vendors include:
✓
Asus: www.asus.com
✓
Belkin: www.belkin.com
✓
Buffalo: www.buffalotech.com
✓
D-Link: www.dlink.com
✓
Linksys: www.linksys.com
20
✓
NetGear: www.netgear.com
✓
Trendnet: www.trendnet.com
Which Wi-Fi Is Inside?
If you’re test-driving a PC at a retail location, you
can see which Wi-Fi adapter is integrated into a PC or
tablet by checking out the hardware configuration in
Microsoft Windows Device Manager.
Note that in Device Manager, the Wi-Fi adapter will be
identified by the product name, which may not indicate
the antenna and stream configuration. (For example,
the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 is a 2x2 802.11ac
Wi-Fi product.) You may need to go to the Wi-Fi
adapter manufacturer’s site to get the specifications.
Microsoft Windows 8/8.1
To check the type of Wi-Fi adapter in a PC running
Microsoft 8/8.1, follow these steps:
1. Right-click anywhere outside the Start app
buttons.
2. Click the All Apps button, select Switch to All
Apps, and then select the Control Panel.
3. In the System section, click System and Security.
4. Click Device Manager.
5. Click + Network Adapters to expand the section.
You see the Wi-Fi adapter product name, such as
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260.
21
Microsoft Windows 7
Follow these steps to find the type of Wi-Fi adapter in a
PC running Microsoft 7:
1. Choose Start➪Control Panel.
2. Click System and Security.
Note: If the System and Security icon isn’t visible,
select Category view first.
3. In the System section, click Device Manager.
4. Click + Network Adapters to expand the section.
You see the Wi-Fi adapter product name, such as
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160.
Shopping online
When you’re shopping online, chances are you’ll need
to delve into the tech specs to get specific information
on the Wi-Fi adapter included in the PC. If you don’t see
a Wi-Fi adapter listed or you see just a generic Wi-Fi reference, contact the PC vendor to see what Wi-Fi product is included.
Experiencing the Intel 802.11ac
Wi-Fi Difference
802.11ac Wi-Fi delivers a new level of speed, reliability,
and range to power your digital life. Your connected
experience can improve when you combine a 4th
Generation Intel Core processor with an Intel Dual
22
Band Wireless-AC Wi-Fi adapter. The adapter supports
the following key features:
✓
With Intel Wireless Display (Intel WiDi for short),
you can stream content from your PC directly to
your TV.
✓
With Intel WiFi HotSpot Assistant, you get instant
Wi-Fi connectivity at a free or paid hotspot without an annoying, time-consuming login process.
✓
With Intel Smart Connect Technology, you can
stay current with automatic, no-wait updates to
your email, social networks, news, and more.
Intel 802.11ac Adapters
The Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC product line includes
the following two Wi-Fi adapters:
✓
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160: A 1x1 802.11ac
Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth adapter that delivers up to
433 Mbps
✓
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260: A 2x2 802.11ac
Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth adapter that delivers up to
867 Mbps
Visit intel.com/wireless for more information on
Intel’s Wi-Fi products and technologies.
Intel WiDi
Intel WiDi uses Wi-Fi to seamlessly transfer content on
your PC to your TV in full 1080p HD with 5.1 surround
sound. All 4th Generation Intel Core processor PCs support Intel WiDi for a serious family room upgrade:
✓
Share family photos
✓
Play your digital music
23
✓
View Web videos, Internet TV, or streaming movies
✓
Enjoy social media from the comfort of your couch
Visit intel.com/go/widi to learn more about Intel
WiDi.
Intel WiFi HotSpot Assistant
Intel WiFi HotSpot Assistant simplifies your Wi-Fi
hotspot roaming by using your mobile PC with a 4th
Generation Intel Core processor and Intel Dual Band
Wireless-AC adapter.
A simple one-time terms and conditions (T&C) login on
the Easy Wi-Fi Network opens up millions of free and paid
hotspots worldwide. As you and your laptop travel from
place to place, Intel WiFi HotSpot Assistant autoconnects
to an available hotspot, avoiding time-consuming logins.
Intel WiFi HotSpot Assistant connects you even if you’ve
never joined the network before.
To get started with Intel WiFi HotSpot Assistant, visit
intel.com/hotspotassistant.
Combine Intel WiFi HotSpot Assistant with Intel
Smart Connect Technology (see the next section),
and Wi-Fi connectivity works even when your laptop
sleeps.
Intel Smart Connect Technology
With Intel Smart Connect Technology, you can stay
current with automatic no-wait updates to your email,
social networks, news, and more. While your laptop is
in standby mode, it will periodically wake up to update
open applications via a Wi-Fi connection. When you
return to your laptop, the latest content is at your
fingertips.
24
Intel Smart Connect Technology also enables your
computer to send updates to the cloud if you create
something while you’re away from a network connection and then connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot — for example, if you write email while traveling by plane. In this
way, everyone has your latest thoughts and you have
the freshest data ready to go wherever you are.
Combining Intel WiFi HotSpot Assistant with Intel
Smart Connect Technology enables automatic Wi-Fi
hotspot connectivity with automatic refreshing of your
cloud data.
Chapter 4
Top Ten Shopping Tips
In This Chapter
▶ Buy for tomorrow
▶ Think throughput
▶ Upgrade your access point
▶ Look under the hood
▶ Ask for Intel
I
t’s time to take your new 802.11ac “Wi-Fi smarts”
with you as you shop for your next Wi-Fi enabled
product. Use these tips to make sure you make the
right choice.
Be Connectivity Conscious
Wi-Fi is essential to the quality of your connected life.
Choosing the right Wi-Fi product is easy if you always
go with 802.11ac. For more on this topic, see Chapter 1.
Buy for Tomorrow
Your 802.11n products might be fine for what you do
today. But consider the congestion coming down the
pike with the increased use of Internet TV and video
26
streaming, the rapid rise of multiple-device households, longer connections to the cloud, and the proliferation of Wi-Fi enabled devices of all kinds. 802.11ac
offers exponential capacity improvements over
802.11n.
Don’t Assume 802.11ac
Is Inside
Not all Wi-Fi is the same. When a product touts “the
latest Wi-Fi,” don’t assume that 802.11ac is inside —
many products still use 802.11n. Ask questions and find
out the specific Wi-Fi included in the product.
Do the Math
In the vernacular of the new multispeed Wi-Fi standards, the number of send and receive antenna configurations are noted as 1x1, 2x2, and 3x3. With these
antenna configurations, 802.11ac delivers the following
maximum data rates:
✓
1x1: 433 Mbps
✓
2x2: 867 Mbps
✓
3x3: 1.3 Gbps
However, the actual Wi-Fi speed shrinks dramatically in
the real world. For more on this topic, see Chapter 2.
Think Throughput
Don’t skimp on your 802.11ac choice based on the data
rate. Remember that throughput reduces the data rate
27
speed of any Wi-Fi device by 50 percent. (Throughput is
a more precise measurement of Wi-Fi network speed
that takes into account network overhead and environmental factors.) In addition, the data rate drops with
each new connected device. For more on this topic, see
Chapter 2.
Go Dual Band
Choose dual-band 802.11ac products for maximum
Wi-Fi connectivity flexibility. A dual-band 802.11ac
product can connect to older 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi networks, which use the 2.4 GHz band, and also switch to
the much faster 5 GHz band when it is available.
Upgrade Your Access Point
An 802.11ac access point (AP) will be able to handle
your ever-growing load of Wi-Fi devices and data-heavy
apps such as video streaming and gaming. If you choose
a dual-band 3x3 802.11ac AP, you’ll have support for the
current top speeds of the 802.11ac standard as well as
for the 2.4 GHz band used by 802.11b/g/n devices. For
more on this topic, see Chapter 3.
Look Under the Hood
If you’re test-driving a PC at a retail location, you can
see which Wi-Fi adapter is integrated into a laptop, a
notebook, an all-in-one, or any PC by checking out the
hardware configuration in Microsoft Windows Device
Manager. See Chapter 3 for a step-by-step guide.
28
Ask for Intel
Combine an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 802.11ac
adapter with a 4th Generation Intel Core processor and
you can experience the following:
✓
Intel WiDi, for streaming content from your PC to
your TV
✓
WiFi Hotspot Assistant, to sidestep time-consuming
logins
✓
Smart Connect Technology, for automatic updates
to your email, social networks, and more
Keep This Guide Handy
If you’re thinking about buying a Wi-Fi enabled device
or upgrading your Wi-Fi network at home, keep this
guide handy on your smartphone. Think of this book as
your personal, practical guide to making the right Wi-Fi
choices for your connected life.
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