Portal serves as your portal to faster, more resilient Wi-Fi

Many people rely on Wi-Fi for their everyday work and leisure needs. But the significant increase in Wi-Fi usage in recent years has created a traffic and congestion issue so bad that Wi-Fi service often slows to a crawl, making it unreliable.

Portal is a router that taps into unused spectrum to create faster, more resilient Wi-Fi that’s much faster than typical Wi-Fi service today. It also provides greater coverage throughout a user’s home. Portal’s proprietary spectrum turbocharger technology provides access to 300 percent more of the radio airwaves than other routers, improving performance by as much as 300 times, and range and coverage by as much as two times in crowded settings including city homes and multi-unit apartments.


Wi-Fi sucks. (But it doesn’t have to.)

The following is a sponsored post from Ignition Design Labs and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backerjack’s editorial staff. 

One thing all tech users can agree on is their frustration with Wi-Fi. But, considering consumer Wi-Fi technology hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years, this should come as no surprise. What has happened during the last decade, however, is a rapid influx of tens of millions of Wi-Fi-enabled devices. All of these devices are now operating on a network that carries more than 100 times the amount of data it was designed to carry.

Consumers want faster, more reliable connections that allow them to use all of their devices more easily. But with applications such as HD video streaming, real-time gaming, video chat and more competing for bandwidth, it’s no wonder Wi-Fi sucks.

That is, until today. Portal is now available on Kickstarter.


Turris Omnia aims to protect your privacy

Routers are among the most commonly-used tech devices in homes. However, when people are not using one to connect to the Internet, the device is idle and just consuming electricity.

The makers of the open-source Turris Omnia router have designed their device to have multiple functions within the home. In addition to serving as a fast router, it can be used as a home server, network-attached storage (NAS) device and a print server, according to its Indiegogo campaign. The device can handle up to 1 GB per second of traffic with no trouble, its makers say. It also has a SIM card slot and crypto chip for secure random number generation. Turris Omnia ships in April at future pricing of $285, although early bird backers can get one at pricing as low as $189. A version without Wi-Fi has a future price of $209, but early bird backers can get one at $139. Its makers are out to raise $100,000 by Jan. 12.

The device’s multifunctionality makes it fairly unique among routers. Other recent routers with crowdfunding campaigns focused on features including simplicity (Keewifi) and portability (Share Foil). Turris Omnia touts neither of those functions, but its more advanced functions may make it appealing to tech enthusiasts.

Kids/Babies Networking

Torch router sheds a light on how kids use the Web, can make access flame out

Every day it seems there’s some new service cropping up on the Internet that draws time away from something else. Monitoring the length and safety of screen time of kids online can be a constant battle.

Seeking to shed light on that situation, though, is Torch, a simple router designed to help parents monitor where kids go on the Web and how much time they spend there. Its Web management console includes sections to pause and track data usage by child and search history.


Shellfire Box hides all your home Internet traffic from prying snoops

Censorship and other draconian tactics to keep the Internet anything but the free and expansive entity it should always be are unfortunately enforced in countries around the world to various degrees every single day. Luckily, the virtual denizens of the Internet are a sly bunch, employing tactics like VPNs and the use of the Tor network in order to skirt prohibition. VPNs can also be used to circumvent location restrictions around accessing certain Web sites such as the BBC iPlayer or Hulu if you’re not in their home countries.

Shellfire is a VPN service, has been operating out of Germany for the past 12 years. While its service works for computers and some smart devices, there are many other devices like consoles and Blu-ray players that can’t connect and be protected. As such, there are many people looking for a single solution that can securely connect any device on their home network. That’s the mission of the Shellfire Box.

Connected Objects Networking

Eero can be your hero in overcoming wireless dead zones

A frequent annoyance for Wi-Fi users is when a dead zone prevents them from accessing the Internet in certain locations of their homes. Another annoyance is having to reset a router when it mysteriously stops working.

Eero has been designed to blanket a user’s entire home with fast, reliable Wi-Fi in order to eliminate dead zones and all the other frequent wireless issues that Internet users typically experience. The device looks like a basic router and plugs into an existing cable or DSL modem. Users then just download an Android or iOS app and it will instantly recognize Eero and prompt users to create their own network name and password. Additional Eeros need power from a standard wall outlet and get placed around the home with the help of the app.

A typical apartment will need two Eeros, while an average house will need three and a larger house will require four to work at maximum effectiveness. The Eeros work together to form a mesh network. Unlike traditional routers and extenders that only allow for data to make a single hop, Eero allows for multiple hops with minimal signal loss. Consumers can connect up to 10 Eeros. One unit will cost $199 and its maker will bundle three at the discounted price of $499 when it ships this summer.

Eero holds a lot of promise, as long as it works as effectively as its maker claims. The Splitter is a rival device that attempts to resolve wireless dead zones, but Eero is a far more advanced system.


Spider tries to bite rivals with smart antenna beamforming technology

Many Wi-Fi routers can only support a very limited number of devices. But the Spider Wi-Fi router can connect more than 100 devices by using smart antenna beamforming technology. As its name implies, the device also has eight antennas, along with eight RF receivers and transmitters.

Most Wi-Fi devices still operate at 2.4 GHz, despite the limited bandwidth it provides. Trying to run more than one 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network to overcome that issue often results in interference between the networks. Spider, however, features two onboard 2.4GHz Wi-Fi cards. The eight antennas and RF receivers/transmitters enable the device to run powerful adjacent channel and co-channel interference cancellation algorithms to completely eliminate the interference between the two 2.4GHz frequencies.

Backers who pledge $125 under Deyond’s current early bird campaign offer will get one ivory white Spider when it ships in August.  Spider is looking to raise $90,000 in funding.

The device has real promise if it works as well as its maker claims. However, the product faces potentially stiff competition from the six- and eight-antenna routers that D-Link bowed at CES. It’s usually rough for a relative newcomer like Deyond to face a major brand name like D-Link, which has established, wide distribution in its favor.

Connected Objects Technology

Splitter resurrects Wi-Fi dead zones

It can be frustrating when an expensive router can’t provide Wi-Fi to the garage, a far corner of a large house or another Wi-Fi dead spot. Vancouver company ANTLamp has created a relatively low-cost solution.

The Splitter is a device that connects to a Wi-Fi router and splits power and data on a single network cable, enabling the user to place the router on a ceiling or anywhere else in the house where the best Wi-Fi coverage can be provided. There is no need for an extension cord or power outlet. The device can also be used to power small devices such as cable modems, security systems, lamps and some small TVs. ANTLamp is looking to ship the Splitter in August and backers can get one then by pledging $59. It is trying to raise $17,000.

There are certain applications where the device will certainly come in handy, especially if attaching a router to the ceiling is indeed the best location to provide Wi-Fi coverage for an entire house. But at least some consumers may be better off just buying a wireless range extender or wireless repeater at a lower price.  The product’s unoriginal name likely won’t help either.


Tech Accessories

PowerTower organizational stand stacks devices, cleans up cords

An excess of cords anywhere in the household can be an incredible eyesore, and one that isn’t very easy to fix without some sort of creative solution that hides the wires in some way. It’s difficult sometimes to do so with the sheer number of cords that sprout from the growing number communication peripherals, like routers, people own.

The PowerTower organizes all of these peripherals by offering a four level stand that accommodates a decent number of devices. The product was designed with spaces in its semi-circular base and spine to tuck away the many wires that need to be connected in a clean fashion, reducing the amount of snake-pit like corners in the home.

Six AC and four USB outlets ensure everything needing power gets enough of it. Since it doesn’t itself get out of the way like the WrapAround, as a consequence the stand itself can end up being the eyesore instead as it isn’t the sleekest of designs. The $100,000 campaign is looking to get the $99 PowerTower in homes by May 2015.

Connected Objects Technology

Keewifi stresses simplicity in security with new router

Routers are the essential gateway that connect our many home gadgets to the Internet, but setting them up can be a major hassle. Chinese newcomer Keewifi has focused on simple connectivity with a new $99 router that enables devices to securely access Wi-Fi without the need for passwords.

The plug-and-play device is small and uses the 802.11ac wireless networking standard, along with proximity technology to authenticate mobile devices as an alternative to standard Wi-Fi passwords. Keewifi stresses on its Kickstarter campaign page that by tapping one’s mobile device on the router one can set up a connection in only 30 seconds. But the company’s video on the site shows that when a mobile device is even held closely to the Keewifi, connection is achieved and a circular blue light glows on top of the router. The device needs to be held within just 2 inches of the syncing panel. Keewifi is looking to raise at least $50,000 on Kickstarter. The company expects to fulfill initial units to backers in July.

There are, of course, plenty of routers on the market, some of them cheaper than Keewifi and many of them from brands familiar to U.S. consumers, including Linksys and Netgear. The new router’s simplicity will likely be appealing to many consumers and stands to make it a hit, but only if Keewifi manages to get decent distribution.