Review of the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router

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Summary…

The X8 offers great performance with 3 Wifi Bands, Quad Stream, Dynamic QoS and Smart Connectivity. This gives it up to 12 data streams that are actively managed to give the best connection for each device. Its active antennae help to improve the connection for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

I have been very impressed with the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router and found it to perform even better than the X6. The main areas that we saw improvement in were the performance when multiple devices are connected at once, and a noticeable improvement in the WiFi range.

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NetGear Ambassaodor

Disclaimer: I am a NETGEAR Ambassador and I received this product in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion and review.

The Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Router is the newest Tri-band router from NETGEAR. It uses 802.11ac WiFi technology with one 2.4GHz and two 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands. It has combined wireless speeds up to 5.3Gbps. It has a dual core 1.4GHz processor, 128 MB Flash and 512 MB RAM memory. It has Quad Stream and Implicit & Explicit Beamforming for  both 2.4 & 5GHz bands.

We reviewed the Nighthawk X6 last year, which was NETGEAR’s first Tri-Band router and were impressed with its performance, so I was interested to see how the X8 compares.

Set Up

The Nighthawk X8 is very quick and easy to set up. With the included quick start guide it was up and running in no time. You basically connect the modem, power on the router, connect a computer or device and complete the setup using the free NETGEAR Genie app. The external antennae come already attached, no assembly required.

The X8 comes with a pre-assigned Wi-Fi network name, typically NETGEAR plus a number, and password, which are on a peelable label on the X8. There is an option to change the name and/or password if you wish. The X8 has a WPS button so it is very quick and easy to connect any device with a WPS button, for other devices you just enter the Wi-Fi name and password as usual.

Size and Form Factor

You do need to make sure you have a large space available for it as the X8 is huge! It measures 12.44″ x 10.39″ x 2.40″  (316 x 264 x 61 mm), which is even bigger than the X6. It has 4 external antennae, so it also needs a lot of headroom- with the antennae extended upright it is approximately 19cm/ 7 1/2″ tall. The top surface has a wavy black plastic grille which looks futuristic, but also has the practical effect of preventing you stacking anything on top of it, important to prevent overheating.

Antennae

The X8 has a total of 8 antennae- 4 internal plus 4 external. The external antennae are movable in many directions. NETGEAR recommends setting them up with the 2 central ones upright and the side ones at 45°, but you can change this if you wish. The external antennas are active antennae, which is a new feature. This means that instead of the WiFi amplifiers being on the router’s motherboard (the standard location) they are on top of the antennae so they can amplify the signal in the antenna itself. This is designed to improve connection to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The external antennae have blue LEDs to show when they are active, but you can switch the LEDs off if you find them distracting.

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USB Ports and Secure Storage

The X8 has 2 USB ports- one is USB 2.0, the other 3.0. I like having two USB ports available, but I’m not sure why they didn’t make them both 3.0.

If you attach an external hard drive to a USB port you can use the free NETGEAR ReadyCLOUD mobile app or web portal to access the drive’s content from anywhere. This is a very simple way to create your own personal cloud.

Wired Connections

The X8 has six Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, and one WAN. This means you can connect up to six wired devices for maximum performance. There is also the option to combine two of the six to double the connection speed for a Network Attached Storage device to allow 4K HD streaming or multiple fast WiFi backups.

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Wireless Speeds

The X8 has a number of features designed to maximize Wifi speeds and performance for gaming and video streaming.

Like the X6 this is a Tri-band router, it has one 2.4 GHz and two 5GHz Bands. 2.4GHz is an old Wi-Fi standard, it is slow and prone to interference, but is necessary to allow older devices to connect to your network. 5.0 GHz is the newer standard, and gives faster performance with less interference, but if you have a lot of devices on the 5.0 GHz it can slow down the connection and affect performance. Having two 5.0 GHz bands helps to prevent slowdowns from lots of devices using it at once.

The X8 delivers a combined wireless speed of up to 5.3Gbp- 1000Mbps for the 2.4GHz  band, plus 2166 Mbps for each of the two 5.0 GHz bands.

It has Quad Streaming to deliver up to four data streams per WiFi band, making 12 in total. Smart Connect selects the fastest WiFi band for each device and Dynamic QoS prioritizes traffic by application and device.

Performance

When we installed the X6 we saw a big leap in performance compared to our previous router, an Apple Airport Express, and we have seen a further improvement with the X8 vs the X6. We have a challenging home for WiFi – it has an unusual layout over 3 staggered floors and poor incoming signal because we live a long way from the DSL hub. With the X6 we found it optimized our signal near the router but for the far flung parts of the house we still needed to use a booster such as the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 WiFi Range Extender Model EX7000 to get a useable signal.

With the X8 we have a slightly stronger signal near the router- but the improvement is marginal. Where we have seen most gains is further from the router – we now get a useable signal throughout the entire house without having to use a WiFi booster- which is a huge improvement! In the master bedroom (unless I used a signal booster) we barely had a signal at all and couldn’t even read email reliably, with the X8 I can surf the web, download apps, do email and even watch Youtube videos. The X8 has done a great job of #eliminating deadspots.

We cut the cable almost two years ago and only have TV via DVD and streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, so good quality video streaming is very important to us. Unfortunately we have a weak incoming internet connection  which can cause hangups in our streaming. The performance with the X6 was much better than with the Airport Express and has improved again with the X8. Our family has a lot of connected devices including multiple iPads, Smartphones, tablets, Smart TV and Xbox. In the past when the Smart TV is streaming video and multiple family members are streaming to different devices at the same time we have had some connectivity issues, but I have not seen this happen with X8.

Security.

Both the X6 and X8 have the option to set up a guest network to allow visiting family and friends to access Wi-Fi  without sharing your main network password.

Like the X6, the X8 has the option to enable parental controls. This lets you choose from different levels of protection against things such as phishing scams, pornography, illegal activity, adult-related sites and even video sharing sites and social media. You can customize different setting for different times of the day.

The X8 has WiFi Protected Access® (WPA/WPA2—PSK), Double firewall protection (SPI and NAT) and Denial-of-service (DoS) attack prevention.

 

Summary

The X8 offers great performance with 3 Wifi Bands, Quad Stream, Dynamic QoS and Smart Connectivity. This gives it up to 12 data streams that are actively managed to give the best connection for each device. Its active antennae help to improve the connection for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

I have been very impressed with the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router and found it to perform even better than the X6. The main areas that we saw improvement in were the performance when multiple devices are connected at once, and a noticeable improvement in the WiFi range.

The X6 and X8 are both great routers, for many homes the X6 is a great choice. However if you have a large or challenging home, heavy demand for high speed internet for gaming or video streaming or large numbers of connected devices the X8 may be a better choice.

Price and Availability

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router has an RRP of $399.99 and is available from Amazon and other retailers.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).


Peppa Pig: Golden Boots by Entertainment One – Review and Giveaway



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Grab this app if you have Peppa Pig fans at home! Not fans yet? Get it all the same if you have preschoolers! Peppa Pig : Golden Boots the app is just too fun (and educational) for your kids to miss out on! My youngest was very excited to play the app, peeping over my shoulder when I was checking it out and eventually taking over the iPad from me!

What we love…

Being able to play with Peppa Pig and her friends in their favorite games!

What we’d love to see…

More activities, the more the better.

Summary

This is a fun preschool educational game app featuring Peppa Pig characters that all kids will enjoy playing over and over again.

Our Rating

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Since this app has been created in celebration of Peppa Pig’s first extended episode “The Golden Boots”, you naturally get to watch parts of the episode in the app. It opens with the familiar introduction to Peppa’s family that you see in all of their episodes. Then your child is invited to enter the play area and choose a favorite balloon as his/her profile icon. Up to 4 kids can create their own profiles and there is no need to key in names. Everything is easy for kids to manage by themselves.

As all fans know, the first rule of muddy puddle jumping is that you must wear your boots. In this episode, Peppa proudly shows off her special yellow boots that is made of ‘real plastic gold’, much to Suzy Sheep’s displeasure. While Peppa and her friends are indoors for orange juice, Mrs Duck comes along and walks off with Peppa’s golden boots. And so the quest to find Peppa’s golden boots begins.

First, kids are asked to make Peppa a new pair of boots for her day of adventures, using different color paints, patterns and stickers. Then they get to complete Peppa’s look with various outfits, head gears and a toy to hold. When Peppa is all set, kids can choose to play in one of the following 6 adventures:-

Dressing up Peppa! Kids will love to dress Peppa and see her appearing throughout the app in the look that they have created for her.

Find what’s hiding in the mud! Kids can wipe or tap around the muddy puddle to explore and find something hiding in the mud. But the highlight here is definitely making a Peppa Pig character jump in the mud.

Fly a rocket through space! This activity is the most challenging of the 6 games. Great eye tracking skills and hand eye coordination are needed to control the rocket through space following the path of stars while avoiding planets and collecting stars. There are 3 levels of play to cater to different abilities.

Shop at Miss Rabbit’s gift shop on the moon! Kids have to use their observation skills to help Peppa, George and Suzy search for the items requested and count them when the job is done.

Help Peppa make food and feed the ducks! This activity provides lots of opportunities for kids to exercise their fine motor skills and hand eye coordination – dragging, pouring and stirring ingredients, cutting the duck feed to smaller portions and dragging or flicking the food to the moving ducks. Kids will enjoy experimenting with different combinations of ingredients and see what happens to the food.

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Sing along to the Muddy Puddles Song! The video is short but fun nonetheless.

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Throughout the app, Peppa’s golden boots will appear and kids will have to quickly catch them in order to earn presents. They can play with their unwrapped presents anytime from their toy basket on the games menu.

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Peppa Pig: Golden Boots is a lot of fun and giggles with games, animations and videos to educate and entertain. The activities are age appropriate and beneficial for kids’ cognitive development. There are also many opportunities for them to make decisions. This is an app that is easy and safe for preschoolers to navigate by themselves.

To all my fellow parents with young Peppa Pig fans, I say this app is a much better (and cheaper) buy than all the expensive Peppa Pig merchandise that we have been buying, so just get it already!

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Peppa Pig: Golden Boots

Peppa Pig: Golden Boots Peppa Pig: Golden Boots by Entertainment One
Category: Education, Games, Family
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74, iPhone8-iPhone8, iPhone8Plus-iPhone8Plus, iPhoneX-iPhoneX
Size: 635.07 MB

$2.99USD

Giveaway

If you would like to win a promo code for this app, please enter via the widget below. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

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NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Grace was working in the fields of early childhood education and staff training before quitting to attend to her 4 children full time. She and her family live in Singapore, which is well known for her highly competitive education system.

Kensington Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic – Review

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Summary

Kensington Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic are a great kids headphone, they are well made, durable, have good sound quality, will fit a variety of head sizes and are a great choice both for home and school use. Priced at under $25 they are a great value. Their grown-up styling will be popular with kids who have outgrown cute character headphones.

Our Rating

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If you are looking for headphones for your children for school or home use Kensington’s new Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic are a great option and good value for money too.

Over the last few years my childrens’ schools have been incorporating more technology into the curriculum and even their State testing is transitioning to being done on the computer instead of with pencil and paper. Because of this parents need to provide their kids with headphones for use during computer or tablet time at school. My kids also use headphones when using the computer or tablet at home so they can work simultaneously without disturbing each other. With 3 kids needing them for both home and school we get through a lot of headphones !

When looking for headphones for my kids there are a number of features that are important to me: clear sound, comfortable, fit a range of head sizes, sound limited to a safe level and they must be tough and durable.

I recently had the opportunity to test out Kensington’s new Headphones With Mic that they have designed specifically for students in K-12. The first thing I noticed as they don’t look like kids headphones, although they are designed for kids they look very much like an adult headphone. My kids are 8, 8 and 12 and will shun anything they consider “too babyish” and all 3 approved of this design.

They have a wide black headband that is padded at the top and when you expand it shows a silver metal band at the sides. My 8 year-old daughter has a small head for her age and my 12 year-old son’s head is on the large side and the headphones fit both of them comfortably.

The headphones have 40mm drivers and I found the sound quality very good for a sub- $30 headphone – the sound was clear and crisp with a good dynamic range. The maximum sound level is 94db, which gives me peace of mind as they can’t turn the sound to unsafe levels.

The microphone is a nice bonus feature and very useful for using apps with dictation and voice recognition. This is especially important for kids who have difficulty typing. I like the flexible microphone stalk and how it rotates out of the way when not in use.

My kids (especially the younger boy) are tough on headphones but these feel well-made and durable so I am confident they will last him a good while. The cord is 9 foot long, rubberized and flexible and it has a gold-plated jack. The cord comes coiled up and we keep it that way most of the time, but it is nice to have the extra length for times we need it. The one thing I would like to see added is an attached velcro cord tidy for keeping the cord neat instead of the current wire tie.

Overall, I think these are a great kids headphone, they are well made, durable, have good sound quality, will fit a variety of head sizes and are a great choice both for home and school use. Priced at under $25 they are a great value. Their grown-up styling will be popular with kids who have outgrown cute character headphones. They are popular with my kids and are my 8 year old son’s favorite headphones.

Kensington Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic (SRP $24.99) are available from Kensington.com, Amazon and other retailers.

You may also wish to read Kensington iPad Accessories for the Classroom
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).


Bamba Books by Bamba – Review & Giveaway



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What we love…

bright colorful graphics, good problem solving for the characters, use of parental gate

What we’d love to see…

Tweaks to the bookshelf area allowing you to directly access apps you already own and have downloaded as well as the use of “safe” YouTube video previews like after you read the book.  Would also like more interactivity in the books

Summary

Fun app that allows you to read a variety of books about characters and then see a video performance after it is completed.

Our Rating

Bamba Books Bamba Books by Bamba is an app for iOS featuring a variety of storybooks with characters from other Bamba apps. The app has three modes, you can either “read the story yourself”, have the story read to you with a narrator or watch a video about the story.  The video tab requires the solving a simple math problem and after solving it, pulls you through to YouTube to watch the video.  The app narration is available in English, Spanish, German, and Russian.  The free portion of the app contains three books and with a IAP you can purchase an additional three books.  In addition, you can click on the video tab to see YouTube previews of various Bamba apps (and later other videos since you are pulled directly to YouTube); and finally a bookshelf of Bamba apps, you are required to solve another math problem before being pulled into the iTunes store even if you already own the app and have it installed on your device.

Overall, I like the concept of “one stop shopping” for the books.  The narration and graphics are well done.  It is easy to turn on and off the narration via  tap of the “lips” at the top of the screen allowing an independent reader more control.  I love the creativity within the app during the reading of the books, especially making the cake with candy, books, flowers and ice cream!  For the farm story, I also really liked how sequential the app was and followed along nicely especially for new readers.    Each of the stories also has the characters that practice problem solving such as how to decorate the cake, how to get the animals back in the pen and how to navigate the airport.

I would like to see word highlighting within the stories as they are read aloud.  For the stories, such as the birthday cake, I’d like to see more interactivity.  Right now it is really a story being read to you and the only element of the story you can interact with is the tapping of an arrow rather than mixing the cake, putting it in the oven, frosting the cake.  I’d also like to see more stories added to the IAP version of the app to give you more value for the dollar.

Oddly, after you finish reading the story,the app does have the video play without pulling you through to the YouTube version so I’d like to see consistency on this throughout the app.  For the YouTube video portion, I’d like to see the video’s play within the app rather than requiring you to solve a math problem and pulling you through to YouTube.  Although when you go through the first time, you are taken directly to the video you selected, if you tap on the video’s to the left you will see advertising as well as other choices for video’s.  In terms of other improvements, it would be nice if you clicked on a Bamba app that you owned and was installed on your device if it would open up skipping the iTunes store directly.  Right now, this section is really an advertising area which shows the preview of the app and if you click “download now” it requires the solving of a math problem in order to access iTunes.

The first three books in the app are free, and the other three books require an IAP of $3.99.
Bamba Books – Mezmedia

Bamba Books - Read and sing-along to interactive stories
Bamba Books - Read and sing-along to interactive stories
by Mezmedia

Category: Education, Games
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone4-iPhone4, iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74, iPhone8-iPhone8, iPhone8Plus-iPhone8Plus, iPhoneX-iPhoneX
Size: 513.42 MB

$FREE

Screenshots
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Screenshots for iPad
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Giveaway

If you would like to win a $50 iTunes card , please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

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Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

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