Tag Archive: wireless

Non-Samsung USB Wireless Adapters on Samsung TV – How to

We recently purchased a 40″ Samsung LCD TV (Model No LA40D550) to replace our Jurassic era 29″ Flat screen CRT TV here in India.

The new Samsung TV is pretty cool. Frankly, I did not expect so many features in it! Has 4 HDMI inputs along with a host of other traditional connectors…and 2 USB inputs. You can connect any USB storage device & it plays a good variety of videos including h.264, divx, avi, wmv..etc and ofcourse mp3s and images.

Although this model is not a SMART TV, one cool feature is that this TV supports DLNA! Samsung calls it AllShare.

Well, what that means is, from a Windows 7 PC, one can stream movies/music to the TV. Also from the TV, one can browse & view the media thats on a DLNA server (windows 7 has it built-in). Also, now a days, other devices support DLNA (like my Mobile Phone – HTC Desire HD). So basically, I can play the video that I have on my phone on the TV. And for all this to work you need a WiFi network (works on a wired network as well, but who needs wires :D).

Now, to enable wireless DLNA on this TV you need to purchase the optional Samsung Wireless Adapter – LinkStick (WIS09ABGN), which is a total rip-off at Rs.4500 just for the adapter. Its basically a WLAN adapter, which is Samsung branded. Other 3rd party adapters are available for Rs. 1000 or less but the TV does not recognize it.

So, now for the interesting bit on how to get a Non-Samsung wireless adapter to work on this TV!!… Here are the steps that I followed…(the easiest approach that I could find)

  • Did some research on the Internet & found that the Samsung USB Wireless adapter (WLAN) was basically using a Ralink chipset within it – RT2870 to be precise. So, basically, the TV has the drivers required to control or interact with that chipset. Oh, the TV internally runs on Linux if you were wondering.
  • Now, I had to find a USB WLAN adapter which had the same chip. Did some further search on the internet and found that the Edimax EW-7718Unuses the exact same chipset. Did a quick search on eBay India & found one from Rs. 949 including shipping. Two days, and I had that adapter to play with!
    • You can find other WLAN adapters from other brands too, but make sure that the chipset within it is the same Ralink 2870 chipset & the VID/PID can be changed via the EEPROM (more on this a bit later). Also, please keep in mind that these devices come with different hardware revisions and each revision can have a different chipset. So, you need to be a bit careful here. It won’t burn your TV down if you plug an incompatible USB WLAN adapter, but you will have a useless WLAN adapter with you :)
  • I tried pluging-in this Edimax EW-7718Un adapter to the TV directly and nothing happened. The TV did not recognize it. Then plugged it to my laptop.. and sure enough it was working fine. So, the unit was good.. but the TV was not recognizing it.
  • Did some search again on the net & found this wonderful site called SamyGo.Tv. Not for the faint hearted. Basically they have custom firmware and super cool hacks for Samsung TVs! How cool is that!! This page in particular was very helpful.
  • Every USB device has two identifiers VID & PID, which identifies the vendor and the product. These values are in the ROM and on many of the WLAN adapters, these values can be replaced or re-programmed (i.e, they are on EEPROM). So the TV is basically expecting the WLAN adapter to have Samsung specific vendor ID and product ID. Now we know what needs to be done to get the TV to recognize the Edimax Adapter!
  • So, basically, the Edimax EW-7718Un had the following values
    • VID = 7392
    • PID = 7718
  • For the TV to recognize the Edimax WLAN adapter, I had to replace the above values to the one present on the official Samsung WLAN adapter/linkstick:
    • VID = 04E8
    • PID = 2018
  • According to this wiki page, the recommended approach to make this change is to run some commands in linux, which re-programs the ROM. I searched for Windows equivalent tools to do the same, but could not find anything simple/easy.
  • Well, it had been a while since I had taken Linux for a spin and this was motivating enough to try the latest version of Ubuntu (release 11.1). I set it up in a Virtual environment & started following the instructions on the Wiki page. I quickly learn’t that the drivers did not compile on latest version of Ubuntu.. So had to download the older version of Ubuntu 10.4 and set it up. This time, the drivers compiled perfectly fine!
  • I would consider myself a beginner on linux..and I had to spend some time to figure it out. So, to help anyone else in a similar state, here is what you need to know…
    • The Linux OS by default does not have the necessary drivers for this Chipset (the Ralink RT2870).
    • You download the latest linux drivers from the Ralink website.
    • In the linux world, you need to compile the drivers. So, to do that you need to download the latest updates and development  tools (like the compiler etc) which are not installed by default when you setup Ubuntu/linux. The instructions for this are covered in the Wiki at SamyGo.tv
    • Once the drivers are compiled, you load the drivers using the insmod command (again covered in the Wiki)
  • Once the drivers are loaded, you can then run the command to re-program the VID & PID values in the EEPROM.
    root@localhost:~# iwpriv ra0 e2p 208=04E8
    ra0       e2p:0208=0x04E8
    root@localhost:~# iwpriv ra0 e2p 20A=2018
    ra0      e2p:020A=0x2018
  • Thats it!. Then I plugged the Edimax EW-7718Un adapter to the TV & Viola!!! the TV recognized it as a Samsung adapter without a hitch!
  • Then it was just a matter of selecting my WiFi network, and entering the security key (WEP/WPA/WPA2) and within seconds, the TV was on our home network, DLNA enabled!

Hope this guide is helpful! This should mostly work on the B series, C series & the D series Samsung TVs.

By the way, do check out the SamyGo.tv website & especially this wiki page for other ways to get WLAN adapters working (of other similar chipsets).

Standard Disclaimer applies: I am not responsible to any damage to your TV or the wireless adapter! :)

All the best!

Dell Inspiron 1420 upgraded from Intel 3945ABG to 4965AGN

Well, we have a Dell Inspiron 1420 [did i mention that before? :)]………. and when we purchased it back in Nov ’07, it came with an Intel 3945ABG WiFi card. The Intel 3945ABG card supports speeds of upto 54 Mbps (802.11g). Its good for accessing the internet, but its slow when you do file transfers between nodes on the local network.

So.., over the past week, upgraded our home network…which involved:
1. Replacing my old D-Link DI-524 router with an 802.11n router
2. And replacing the WiFi Card on the laptop with an 802.11n capable card (Intel 4965AGN WiFi Link card).

Linksys WRT600N Router

For #1, I purchased a Linksys WRT600N router — which is a wireless-N gigabit dual-band router, with storage link — which means, you can connect a USB drive to it, and that drive would be available on your network! (kind of like network attached storage – NAS). So, now, my 750GB Seagate external drive is plugged into it, and all its partitions are now accessible wirelessly as a shared folders! (more…)

Widescreen LCD Monitor – V7 Series

Well, laptops are good to have, but after using them for over an year now, realized that laptops are bad for my eyes. Not if you use it on a proper desk, but the thing with laptop is, its too easy & convenient to use it when you are on the bed, and some how, in my case, I ended up placing the laptop too close to my eyes.

Well, I have been wearing eye glasses for the past 2.5 yrs now, and recently did a routine eye test. Obviously, my power had slightly increased and I think it can be attributed to the improper use of laptops!

So, this week, bought myself a 22″ widescreen LCD monitor (V7 Series). I have never heard about this name before, but found it via a deal site on staples.com. It had very good reviews, and it was well priced. Got it for around $238 (including taxes+shipping).

V7 Series 22

Its a pretty decent monitor, has regular VGA input, built-in stereo speakers, dvi inputs (no cables though – you need to buy them). Love it so far!…….No problems what so ever. See Updates below…

Logitech Cordless Navigator Duo

Also got Logitech Cordless Navigator Duo. So, now I have a full fledged ergonomic workplace at home.

Hopefully, that should help my eyes and my body! :)

Update 1 (9-Nov, 9 AM CST): After using the monitor for a few days, noticed that there was a low hissing noise, which used to start and stop randomly. Asked staples for an exchange – to which they readily agreed. Waiting for a replacement unit today. Will update how the new unit performs.

Update 2 (9-Nov, 7 PM CST): Staples folks screwed up. They are telling me that they have some logistic issues, and the monitor that I was supposed to get is missing from their warehouse. So, its only possible for them to deliver on Monday (12-Nov). Will update once I get the replacement unit!

Update 3 (14-Nov, 8 PM CST): Staples delivered the monitor on Monday (12-Nov), and also offered a $35 coupon to compensate me for the trouble. Haven’t yet got the coupons, but i think they should be here in a few days. The replacement monitor is OK so far!. No hissing noise for 2 days now. Will have to keep an watch for few days. Will update in a weeks time.

Cellphones in USA & India

If you are an Indian and have come to the US recently, you will be ‘shocked’ to see how closed and primitive the US cell phone market is! Well, except for the iPhone which is by no means primitive — but its ‘locked’ to the not-so-popular AT&T network.

Imagine getting charged for receiving SMS messages! Its really a sad story out here. There is no easy way for an average person to buy a phone of his or her choice without signing up for a contract. And the contact is normally 2 years! Which means, you must be a subscriber of that cell phone provider for the period of the contract at an agreed upon price. The average cost of plan such plans – around 40$ to 45$ a month (data plans would cost extra!), which is way to expensive compared to India!!! And if you want to switch to an other network, you need to cancel you current contract by paying an “early termination fee”. (more…)

T-Mobile – The Razr V3 and my Nokia 6600

Finally after 6 months, managed to get a cell phone without any deposits. I guess my credit history is starting to build up now. The last time when I asked for a cell phone service, I was told to deposit $750!!

I still say cell phone market in US sucks. The service providers dictate the market. No good handsets to choose too. You are kind of forced to buy from the limited range of handsets that the services providers have to offer.

After doing some major research, I opted for T-Mobile service. The service plan is pretty decent (Get More 1500), but is quite expensive compared to the mobile service back in India. With the plan, you are kind of forced to buy a cell phone, and T-mobile had very limited variety. Nothing compared to the barrage of cell phones available in India!.

I picked the Motorola Razr V3 (silver), since it was decently priced (keep in mind that I have an 1 year contract!). I had also read lots about its looks, and its coolness factor. Its supposed to be the Best and the “Most Happening” phone in the US of A currently in the market!.

Motorola Razr V3

The Razr V3 definitely has the looks! Its cool & sexy. Very sleek and slim. Its got a very beautiful finish, and a 260K color TFT display. It has a decent battery life too. And that’s where it ends. I being a Nokia 6600 user, feel like a total handicapped using this phone.

Here are some things which suck big time about the Razr V3…

  1. Its a flip phone. So, you need to open the flap to make/receive calls. And, the Razr V3 is designed in such a way that its next to impossible to open the phone with one hand. So, if you receive a call while you are eating or using your other hand, its a struggle.
  2. The phone is not at all extensible. Its got very little internal memory (5 MB), and there is no way to increase it. No slots for memory cards either.
  3. The phone boasts that it can play MP3 tones. Yes. It does have a great stereo sound, but with 5 MB of space, you can only store ring tones, and if you are lucky enough, you can store a MP3 song or two.
  4. It has a 4x digital Zoom camera – but the 640 x 480 resolution sucks big time. This phone deserves a better resolution camera.
  5. No Video recording. …….. and even if you could, you wouldn’t have enough space to store the recorded clips.
  6. Using Bluetooth, the phone could not detect most of the other Bluetooth devices that were around. But the other devices could detect and connect to the Razr V3. Once connected, I could transfer files as usual.
  7. There is an small stamp sized display on the outside (on the flap). But, you cannot do any customization specific to this display.
  8. The phone supports Java, but its very very slow. Again due to space constraints, you cannot load lots of applications
  9. The phone does not recognize WAV files!!! However, it plays Midi files, and MP3 files as ring tones.
  10. No support for .rm (real media) files when it comes to video. Neither can it play DivX encoded files (.avi).

Compared to the above, if you consider the features, my Nokia 6600 beats the Motorola Razr V3 hands down! While I came here to the US, I had brought my Nokia 6600 from India. So, after using the Razr V3 for couple of days, Now I am back to my Nokia 6600! I plan to use the Razr as a back up phone! Just in case. Or may be… just to ‘show off’. hahaha…

Cellphones in US – Sucks

Cell Phones. One area where India rocks. No questions.

Ok, lets see the differences :

  • In US, first of all, its very difficult to get a cell phone connection!. You need to have a good “credit history” to get a cellphone. If you don’t have a credit history, you need to pay some deposits. And guess what? I was told that I need to deposit $750 to get a cell phone connection since I did not have any credit history!!! In India, almost everyone can manage to get a cell phone service. No major deposits etc!
  • In US, almost all the providers ask you to sign a 1 year or 2 year contract. In India … “What contract?? Are you kidding?”
  • In US, you get a mobile phone with your plan. This is good one way, but then you will have to sign a one year contract for sure (and pay some money for the handset…offcourse less than the market price – but this depends on the plan and the phone in question)!. In India, you have the freedom and flexibility to select your phone, based on your budget, from Rs 500 to 25,000! And you can change your handset anytime (except CDMA providers)
  • In US, the airtime charges (or the call charges) are way too high!! There is air-time charge for incoming calls too!. In India, incoming is *free*, and the outgoing calls tooo are hell lot cheaper compared to US. Infact, I had almost forgot the term “air time charges” !
  • In US, some plans charge you for receiving SMS !.. Nice way to get screwed!. In India, I don’t know of any plans where you get charged for receiving SMSes.
  • In US, sending out SMS is pretty expensive (from 4 cents to 40 cents!!!). In India…….its 1/10th the price!
  • In US, prepaid SIMS are contract free, but are way too expensive. i.e., the postpaid plans them self are expensive, but prepaid is more expensive. In India, the call charges on pre-paid and post-paid are almost comparable.
  • One more point is, in US, with most of the plans, you get some free minutes. If you are within the limit, then you are safe. But if you exceed, then you will be charged like crazy. And the minutes are used even if you call a Toll Free number! Most plans count the minutes for incoming call too!

I also noticed that in US, Nokia handsets are not that popular. I haven’t seen many people use Nokia handsets. I found more people using Motorola handsets.

Clearly, India is far ahead! Hope to see similar progress in other areas too!

Wireless @ Home

My 802.11g wireless router came in this week. I actually wanted to buy a Linksys router, but got a very good deal on D-Link AirPlus™ G DI-524 Wireless Router. Got it for around $9 after mail-in rebates from eCost.com. But the final price was around $17 after shipping & Handling fees, which is still much lower compared to Linksys price. Will go for Linksys in future if there is a need.

D-Link DI-524

It took around 30 mins for me to setup the router. And around 15 to 20 mins to setup a secured network.

So, now its fun browsing without the wires!