A couple months ago, my parents finally replaced their old Sony console TV (a tube TV) with a bright shiny new Samsung 60″ Smart TV. Its a thing of beauty. The picture is crisp and sharp and has excellent color. Being one of Samsung’s Smart TV’s, it also has networking capabilities and can stream things from the Internet. It also has Netflix and Amazon Instant Video buttons right on the remote. It also includes an IR blaster to control the Comcast supplied DVR/cable box. Now they have just one remote, don’t have to change inputs or fiddle with things to stream movies and it has greatly simplified their setup. This is good because if its not easy to do and easy to remember, they won’t do it.
So, a couple days after they got the TV, I came over and helped them get the TV connected to their wireless network. They were using a Comcast supplied all-in-one box that provided a basic router with a built in cable modem, four ethernet ports, WiFi and phone jacks. Since they plan on switching to Comcast for phone service, they’re pretty well stuck with using that box. So I got the TV all configured and connected to the WiFi and things worked well for about a week. We were over there for dinner the following Sunday and I was trying to play Curious George for my three year old on the TV. Lots of pauses and stutters. Then the TV couldn’t connect to the WiFi at all. Power cycling the router and TV didn’t help. It could connect to the wireless okay, but couldn’t get an IP address from the router. After some additional troubleshooting, I determined that the WiFi on the Comcast router was sub-par.
My parents both use Kindle Fire tablets, my mother has a 7″ Kindle Fire HD which she uses for email and web surfing, and my father has the 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD, which they both love. Whats interesting is that they’re both able to use their tablets in the same room that the TV is in. So, either the Samsung is having problems with the Comcast WiFi or the antennas in the Kindle Fire’s are much better. My Nexus 4 phone and my wife’s Samsung Galaxy Note 2 were also unable to connect to the wireless reliably from the room the TV was in. So, off to upgrade the WiFi.
About a year and a half ago, I bought a Netgear N300 router. Mostly because I liked Netgear routers and it had gigabit ports on it. After using it for a couple months, with repeated dropouts and reboots and frustrations, I decided to buy something else. I ended up with an Asus RT-AC66U and I couldn’t be happier with it. I’ve only had to reboot it once and I connect at 150Mbps on my laptop two rooms away from it. So, for my parents, I decided to go with a much more basic Asus RT-N12. Its only about $40.00 and they don’t need it for anything more than connecting a laptop, their Kindle Fires and the TV. It also has two large 5dBi antennas on it which should increase wireless coverage substantially over the Comcast router.
Setup on the Asus RT-N12 was a breeze and done in less than 10 minutes. I called Comcast and asked them to reset the Comcast supplied router to bridged mode and disable the WiFi portion of it, which they did quickly and without question. I connected the new router, plugged my laptop in, setup the RT-N12’s mode to be a wireless router, set the passwords and we were off and running.
Since hooking up the Asus RT-N12, they have only had one wireless drop and very little stuttering on Netflix and Amazon movies. The TV connects much more reliably. We have no problems connecting our phones or my parents Kindle Fires on it. It was a very good $40.00 investment.
The next challenge is yet to come. When we were over at his house on Sunday, he started asking me about Powerline Ethernet for my mother’s desktop computer and the TV. Since I run my MythTV setup with a pair of ZyXEL 500Mb powerline adapters and a ZyXEL 500Mb Powerline Adapter with 4 Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch and it works flawlessly, he wants to convert to powerline wherever he can.
I’ll write up part two of this in a few weeks, once its all setup and working. I’ll probably go with ZyXEL again because they have been 100% reliable for me. Not a single drop and consistent speeds over 100Mbps in over a year of running them. Granted, we’re in a fairly small condo and my parents are in a pretty large and much older house. I’m looking forward to the project.