This page serves as a frequently updated list of hardware peripherals like printers and networking gear which we’re using in and around the house, stuff we rely on and trust, for the most part. It replaces a page I used to maintain over at aaronpressman.com. You can also see what I’m using as far as computer systems, other hardware, software and web services as well as stuff I’m just messing with.
(Last updated April 13, 2013)
The primary printer at home is a monochrome laser Brother HL-2170W which I bought on super-sale from Staples at the end of 2009. It’s compact and speedy (rated 23 pages/minute) with both wifi and ethernet connections. The 2170W replaced a massive Brother HL-6050DW that did a great job for years and years but took up more room than a cement mixer and eventually died.
For color print jobs, we have HP’s 6940, a speedy little devil that includes an ethernet connection at half the price of a good USB-only inkjet a few years ago. It’s moderately okay when we want it to spit out a 4X6 photo, better than okay when we go through the annoyance of swapping out the black ink cartridge for the special photo ink cartridge (but of course I always forget to swap back and the next text document comes out looking all funny). It replaced an equally spiffy HP 6980 in March, 2009, that died of the dreaded broken printer cartridge plastic nub disease.
When I bought my Macbook Pro in June, 2007, the Apple Store in Cambridge gave me an HP all-in-one c4200 printer for free — after rebate. The handy thing is it scans and copies in addition to printing – useful. But where do you put a third printer? Nowhere. This one floats around the house always in the way until we need to scan something. And it’s the slowest printer in the house.
When I switched to using a Lenovo Thinkpad running Windows 8 as my main computer in November, 2012, I had to give up my super awesome Apple 24″ LED Cinema Display and find a new docking solution for my home office. I opted for Lenovo’s cute and useful Thinkpad USB 3.0 Dock. About the size of a chunky external hard drive, the dock has 5 USB 3 ports, a gigabit ethernet port, two DVI video ports and a headphone/speaker jack. I have it connected to a Lenovo 21″ IPS monitor and a super-clicky Das Model S keyboard. The one downside is that it can’t charge a laptop. Well, and Windows 8’s awful dual monitor support.
The household network got a major overhaul in October, 2007, when we switched to Verizon’s FIOS service. Verizon installed a wireless router of their own choosing, the Actiontec MI424WR. It’s nothing great but meets our needs. The user interface is web-based and pretty rudimentary though you can access more advanced setting if you spelunk about a bit. I’ve also been quite pleased with some Actiontec ECB2200 extenders that let me bring full-speed Internet to any room with a coaxial cable hook up. That’s a great add for us since we have lots of wifi dead spots in our old house. The Actiontec router meant it was curtains for the last of our Linksys gear, which used to dominate the network, alas.
Wireless back-up square
In March, 2008, I picked up one of Apple’s boxy Time Capsule routers. This fellow has all flavors of Wifi, including N, and operates in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands. Inside is a 1-terabyte hard drive, as well. That means I can set my Macbook Pro and the kids laptops to back up everything with the Time Machine program in the background. Without any further intervention from me, the laptops back up every hour when they are in range. I blogged about the Time Capsule’s awesome set-up program and overall speediness on March 20, 2008.
Network attached storage
I had some old hard drives laying around and saw a cheap Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ for sale online. So I put together a small network-attached storage server. The software lets the server connect to iTunes anywhere around the house and send stuff to the Tivo. It also has a nifty trick to back up external USB drives at the push of a button. But it can get pretty loud because of the fans, when it decides to be really busy. I blogged about initially setting up the ReadyNAS on October 23, 2010.