Thursday, March 24, 2016

WiFi technology - from Beamforming to MU-MIMO

Modern WiFi routers come with new selling features such as Beamforming and even MU-MIMO. What are these new features about? Will your home and/or office WiFi network be benefited with these new features? I also have the same questions, and here is the answer from my research.

Beamforming Technology

Beamforming is a kind of wireless transmission method introduced to reduce interference and improve the reliability of WiFi signal. It is adapted in the 5th generation WiFi standard 802.11ac.

Beamforming is based on Digital Signal Processing (DSP) logic and Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology. Using a procedure called channel calibration or channel sounding, it changes the phase and relative amplitude of the signal, creating a constructive interference and destructive interference to make the signal in preferred direction stronger and others weaker.

In this way, the WiFi router can focus the signal towards the direction of your WiFi devices connected to it, making the wireless connection stronger, more stable, and further reaching. As effective WLAN bandwidth degrades with weaker signal and longer distance, beamforming can help to reduce this degrading effect, therefore making the network faster.

However, bear in mind that your WLAN network is still limited by the maximum supported bandwidth of the WiFi router and the WiFi client, and your Internet bandwidth is still limited by the maximum bandwidth of your subscription package. Your network still won't be faster than these limitation.

Certain 802.11n routers and devices also support beamforming, but unlike 802.11ac, there is no common standard with beamforming in wireless-N.

In order to benefit from the beamforming technology, both your wireless router and wireless device (computer, tablet, handphone, smart TV, etc.) must support this technology. If they are of wireless-N device, then the beamforming of the wireless client must compatible with the wireless router as well, preferably from the same brand or manufacturer.

Beamforming is standardized in wireless-AC, but that does not mean that all wireless-AC has this feature. You have to ensure your wireless-AC device comes with beamforming technology to get its benefit.


Traditional wireless router or access point, even with MIMO technology, can only serve one wireless client at one time. If it is connected to multiple WiFi devices, each of the devices take turn to be served. The more wireless devices you connect to the WiFi router, the less bandwidth is available for each one of them.
Multiuser MIMO (MU-MIMO) is introduced in the 5th generation WiFi standard 802.11ac. In a wireless system that uses MU-MIMO, the router can direct separate streams of bandwidth to up to 4 different devices simultaneously, as long as the devices are also able to use MU-MIMO technology.

For a MU-MIMO router with 4 antennas, each antenna can serve an individual MU-MIMO supported wireless device. Each of these devices can utilize the full WLAN bandwidth supported by the router.

If there are more devices, then the 5th onwards still need to share antenna with other device.

So, one MU-MIMO router is equivalent to 4 virtual MIMO routers, in the condition that the wireless clients connected to it also support MU-MIMO technology.

What if your wireless device is not supporting MU-MIMO? The router is backward compatible to act as single-user MIMO (SU-MIMO) router just like the older MIMO, and you won't enjoy the benefit of MU-MIMO in this case.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My MEC iPort G9000 PR1C 1HP portable air-cond

I have just purchased this MEC iPort G9000 PR1C 1HP portable air-cond last month for a small room in my house that is without wall mounted air-cond, and now the weather has become so hot that I feel this purchase was rally made at the right time.

MEC is a Malaysian brand. The size of this portable air-cond is in fact larger than my perception from its photo. It is quite thick, with the dimension of 458 x 745 x 348.

It looks stylish, with an automatic sliding panel that will completely cover up its louver blades outlet when it is turned off, to cover it from dust. The panel will automatically slide down when the air-cond is turned on.

This portable air-cond comes with quite a lot of accessories, including the standard accessory of remote controller with battery, and exhaust hose with wall exhaust adaptor. In addition, it also comes with window slider kit and 4 pieces of foam seal that can be applied to most vertical and horizontal windows. It also comes with a water drain hose for dehumidifying mode usage.

This portable air-cond has a modern look, with quite a lot of air filters, located behind it and also at its both sides. It has all the functions that you need, including the louver auto-swing feature, 4 selection modes of Auto, Cool, Dry and Fan, 4 fan speed selection of Low, Med, High and Auto, Sleep mode, Timer setting, LED display, intelligent self-diagnosis and auto-protection function, panel Lock function, auto-restart after power cut off, 3 minutes protection before resuming operation, etc. It makes use of the condensed water for cooling, evaporating the water during the process, therefore for normal operation with this self-evaporating system, it doesn't need to drain out water.

One unique feature is the Follow Me button on its remote control. In Follow Me mode, the remote control will send signal to the air-cond every 3 minutes, and the air-cond will direct the cool air to its direction. So, you just need to put the remote control beside you to get the breezing cool air blowing towards you.

This air-cond is pretty quiet during operation, and quite energy saving too. It has a current rating of 4.4A with 1000W power input, cooling capacity of 9000 Btu/h, EER rating of 8.9, airflow of 440 cubic meter per hour, which is equivalent to 259 CFM.

Overall, I am satisfied with this portable air-cond.

You might be interested to also read about:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ambidio - new audio technology that enables normal speaker to play super immersive surround sound that beats high-end 7.2 speakers

Ambidio is a new start-up in Los-Angeles founded by 29 years old Taiwanese girl Iris Wu and her friends, specialized in revolutionary sound technology. The company is backed by multiple-times Grammy award-winning artist, and private investment arm of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-Shing - Horizons Ventures.

So, what's so special about this Ambidio technology? Well, it brings a high quality, immersive sound experience by just using computer software technology, which can instantly enable normal low-end speaker (preferably stereo) to play sound with effect of the standard as produced by expensive high-end surround sound systems.

Ambidio offers a new way for people to experience sound. It has a range that is at least 3 times wider than conventional methods that simulates three dimensional sound, using traditional speakers and headphones, allowing for a fully immersive experience.

Don't believe me? You can try yourself with this demo video provided by Ambidio, using your low-end speaker, and tell me what you think after listening to this 1 minute demonstration.

Ambidio has enlisted Lucasfilm’s Skywalker Sound, which has been redefining immersive sound for nearly 4 decades for film, TV and videogames, as a strategic advisor to assist with Ambidio's technology and creative development.

“Technology is transforming the way we experience music and, as an artist and producer, I’m always looking to what’s next – where the innovation is. Ambidio brings music to life through immersive sound, giving people a chance to experience music in a whole new way,” says of his involvement.

The idea came about while music lover Iris Wu was attending graduate school at New York University, and was trying to create a quality listening experience but was dissatisfied with the results due to living in a small New York City apartment. She began experimenting with sound engineering through code rather than hardware and Ambidio’s technology began to take shape.

“The brain is a powerful mechanism that can interpret the directional origin of different sounds in everyday life,” says Iris, “however, when consuming content on a device, such as a laptop, sound consistently comes from a fixed point – the front.”

Ambidio made it by treating our brain as a decoder and creates a continuous sound field with a sense of depth and dimension. It creates an immersive sound experience using only stereo speakers by inserting common cues into audio files that the brain then uses to identify and perceive where different sounds within the audio stream would have come from. Essentially, our brains process the sound the way it does in everyday life.

We look forward for Ambidio to disrupt the entire audio industry.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The ultimate comparison of TP-Link Archer C7 vs C8 vs C9 wireless routers

TP-Link has been well-known for wireless routers with performance comparable or even better than Asus, Linksys, Netgear, etc. with a much cheaper price. More importantly, most of its routers support UniFi and MaxisNet fibre broadband, including the IP phone and IPTV functions.

Let's compare 3 of the TP-Link Archer series of wireless-AC routers at the price range between RM400-RM600: the C7, C8 and C9. Below is the comparison table (click image to enlarge):

The Archer C7 is the oldest among them, with old housing and old web user interface. However, it seems to outperform its successors C8 and C9 in terms of network throughput and maximum simultaneous connections supported, with the help of its 6 antennas (3 internal and 3 external). It has the lowest price too.

The Archer C8 is a new design with new housing and newer, more user friendly web user interface. It also has a dual core CPU. Its USB performance is better than the C7. However, its 3 dual band antennas are shorter, and seems to perform weaker than the C7, despite it comes with Beamforming technology.

The Archer C9 has the same design with C8. It comes with a faster dual core CPU, newer Broadcom chipset, and even better USB performance than C8. However, its network throughput is a bit disappointing in the comparison.

If you are familiar with TP-Link old user interface, here is how its new user interface looks like:

TP-Link is phasing out C8 to replace it with C9, so the availability of C8 in the market is very rare now. However, the C7 is still widely available in the market.

So, there are both pros and cons among them in terms of user interface, specification, performance and price. If you were to choose one of them for your home Internet, which one will you buy?


Monday, March 7, 2016

Book: Marketing Management 15th global edition by Kotler and Keller

I would like to recommend a book about marketing which I just finished reading. It is the 15th global edition of Marketing Management written by marketing gurus Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller.

In fact, this is the text book or official reference book in many marketing courses. However, being an academic book, it is not boring at all, and pretty interesting to read through. It is colourful, with many up-to-date pictures and illustrations, real life examples, and most importantly, very comprehensive and informative.

I'll show you 2 of its pages to visualize my description above:

The 15th edition is the latest, published in 2015. It has several variances, and even published by different publishers, but I think the content should be the same.

The topics are pretty recent, with discussions on digital communications management of online, social media, and even mobile technology. It talks about Marketing 3.0, and addresses the change in consumer behaviours from the marketing perspective. It explains about the evolution of traditional 4 P's of marketing (product, place, promotion, price) to newer 4 P's (people, processes, programs, performance) and the newer alternative of 4 A's (acceptability, affordability, accessibility, awareness).

This is a nice book for business owners, marketing managers, MBA students, business school students, and anyone who is interested to know more about the topic.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Top 3 cash back credit cards to suit your lifestyle

With hundreds of credit cards now available in the market, it can get really confusing especially when you consider the fact that not all of them are created equal. However, these days many Malaysians optimise their credit cards spending with cash back credit cards.

Essentially, a cash back credit card is a credit card that rewards the cardholder a rebate based on their spending. This can be then further broken down into the cash back tier, monthly cap and cash back categories.

Cash back tier means how much you have to spend to earn that amount of cash back. For example, if you spend RM300 you get 4% cash back and have to spend RM2,500 and above for 8% cash back.

Next up is the monthly cap which is the amount that the rebate is capped at every month (ranging from RM10 – RM100 or more), and the cash back category is the type of retail transaction or spending you need to perform to qualify for the cash back rebate.

However, if you are looking for a cash back credit card that suits your spending habits, we’ve shortlisted three of the best ones for you to choose below.

Hong Leong Wise Gold Card

Looking for a cash back credit card that offers you a variety of choices on the cash back categories? The Hong Leong Wise Gold lets you enjoy 10% cash back on spending for two of your chosen categories (there are ten available) when you make a minimum of any 10 retail transactions (minimum RM50 per transaction) in a month.

Do take note that to change categories at any time, you will have to pay maintenance fee of RM10.60.

Recommended for:

Malaysians who use their credit card for a variety of transactions and want more control on their cash back based on their spending habits.

Qualifying Criteria:
  • Minimum age of 21 years old and a minimum income of RM2,000 per month (RM24,000 per annum)
  • Annual fees: RM169.90 for Principal cardholders and RM84.80 for supplementary card holders

Shell-Citi Gold Credit Card

Always on the road or just want more money back from all your petrol expenditure? The Shell-Citi Gold credit card lets you enjoy a cash back rebate of up to 8% when you fill up on petrol at any Shell station nationwide.

Recommended for:

This cash back credit card is ideal for Malaysians who spend more on petrol every month and prefer to visit Shell petrol stations to earn cash back rebates.

Qualifying Criteria:
  • Minimum age of 21 years old and a minimum income of RM2, 000 per month (RM24,000 per annum)
  • No annual fees for the first year by using the card three times within 60 days of card approval.
  • For subsequent years, RM206.70 per annum for principal; RM106.00 for supplementary cardholders.

OCBC 365 MasterCard

The OCBC 365 MasterCard is a great choice if you are a first time credit card owner looking to earn cash back on all of your spending.

You will receive 1% cash back on the first RM1,000 you spend and 0.5% for all subsequent spending –  making it a hassle-free and easy to manage cash back credit card.

Recommended for:

Malaysians who are looking for their first credit card and wish to enjoy cash back rebates for all of their spending.

Qualifying Criteria:
  • Minimum age of 21 years and a minimum income of RM2,000 per month. (RM24,000 per annum)
  • No annual fees for the first year, only for first time OCBC credit card customers or customers who last held an OCBC credit card more than 12 months ago.
  • RM106.00 per year for principal and RM53.00 per annum for supplementary cardholders.

For more information on how to compare cash back credit cards, check out this handy guide here by

Note: This is a guest post by, a Malaysia’s financial comparison portal which helps consumer in finding the right financial products at the right price.

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.