Google Home Digital Assistant Review

With voice control being the latest craze, Google has entered the market. Google Home consists of a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. It is very similar in function to its competition from Amazon, The Echo and the Echo Dot which are powered by Amazon Alexa. ISP1 reviewed the Echo Dot, Alexa and integration with home automation devices here.

Promotional Video From Google

Google Home Features

  • Enjoy Your Music:
    With a simple voice command, play tunes from services like YouTube Music and Google Play Music. Enjoy even more compatible audio services by streaming directly from your phone to Google Home.
  • Get Answers From Google:
    Get answers to things you want to know including the latest on weather, traffic, finance, sports, and more. Plus, get information to help you do things in your world. Ask “What is the nearest pharmacy” and follow it up with “When does it close”.
  • Manage Everyday Tasks:
    With your permission, Google Home can help you with things like your commute, flight information, and more. Plus it’s a whiz at setting alarms, starting timers, and adding items to your shopping list.
  • Control Compatible Smart Devices:
    Simply ask Google Home to stream videos to your TV with Chromecast or to turn up your Nest thermostat.
  • Get Superior Sound & Voice Technology:
    Google Home’s high excursion speaker delivers HiFi sound quality. It can also hear you reliably thanks to far-field microphones.

Google Home vs Amazon Echo Pricing

Google Home Integrated Speaker

Google Home Speaker

At around $130, Google home is priced well above Amazon’s $50 Echo Dot.

However, Google Home with its integrated high-excursion speaker is more comparable to the $180 Amazon Echo with dual downward-firing speakers which produce much better sound than the Echo Dot. All three devices have multiple far-field microphones which do an excellent job of picking up voice commands even with a moderate level of ambient noise.

Amazon’s smart speaker products have been in the market longer and thus have more compatibility with smart home automation devices. Google home is better at answering questions due to the vast Google search network.

Google Home Common Problems

Other than the recently fixed Fake News problem where the home was giving some answers from dubious sources, several common problems have been reported with the home smart speaker. Fortunately most common problems have easy solutions. Here is a good blog post from on how to fix common problems with Google Home which addresses some common issues with the product and provides simple solutions to resolve the issues.

Google Home Easter Eggs

Here are a few  Easter eggs and other cool responses.

  • OK Google I’m feeling lucky
  • OK Google Beatbox
  • OK Google Tell me a joke
  • OK Google Bark like a dog
  • OK Google Sing a song
  • OK Google Surprise me
  • OK Google Sing me Happy Birthday
  • OK Google Read a poem
  • OK Google Do you speak Morse code?
  • OK Google What am I thinking right now?

There are many more, this is just a sampling.

Product Specifications

Supported Audio Formats:
HE-AAC, LC-AAC+, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC with support for high-resolution streams

802.11ac (2.4GHz/5Ghz) Wi-Fi for high-performance streaming

High excursion speaker with 2″ driver + dual 2″ passive radiators
Far-field voice recognition supports hands-free use

Required 16.5V, 2A included

Ports & Connectors:
DC power jack
Micro-USB port (for service only)

Supported Operating Systems:
Android 4.1 and higher
iOS 8.0 and higher
Mac OS X 10.9 and higher
Windows 7 and higher

Google Home App

The app is used to set up, manage, and control your Google Home device(s).

Google Home App

The Google Home App is available for Android and Apple devices

Google Home Links

Recent Google Posts



Access from AT&T SNAP Internet Discount

Access From AT&T SNAP Low Income Discount

AT&T Low Income Discount for SNAP Recipients

As a condition of the approval of the AT&T and DirecTV merger, the FCC mandated that AT&T provide an affordable low income Internet access program.

The Access from AT&T program provides low cost Internet to participants of SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamp Program).

AT&T’s Access Internet service is available in any of the 21 states where AT&T wired home Internet is offered. Depending on the Internet speeds available in your location, the monthly cost will either be $10 for the 10 Mbps or 5 Mbps plans or $5 for the 3 Mbps Internet connection. You don’t get to choose; AT&T will install whichever plan is the fastest offered in your area. AT&T will also waive the equipment rental fees and provide free installation.

AT&T Internet Access Service Area

If you don’t live in an AT&T Internet service area, you can check out our full list of Internet Discount Programs here.

A huge difference in the AT&T program when compared to other low income Internet programs such as Comcast’s Internet Essentials or Cox Cable’s Connect2Compete is the qualification criteria. Most other programs require a household to have at least one child participating in the free or reduced cost school lunch program. The Access from AT&T program qualification is based on participation in the food stamp program, meaning single adults and families without school age children can also qualify for the low-income Internet service discount.

The FCC has recently expanded the Lifeline Subsidy program to include broadband Internet costs. Combining the $9.25 per month Government subsidy with a low-cost Internet plan such as AT&T’s Access, can provide free or almost free Internet service for eligible recipients.


Why get the Access program from AT&T?

“Technology has the ability to revolutionize education and empower lives, but only for those who can connect to it. Access to the Internet brings with it an opportunity to apply for jobs online, connect with family and friends, access virtual library shelves, research health questions, complete an online education—and a whole lot more. The Access program from AT&T provides an affordable way for low-income consumers to take advantage of these opportunities.” Source AT&T

Access from AT&T Features

  • Low Cost – $10 or $5, depending on available speed.
  • No Commitment
  • No Deposit
  • Free WiFi
  • Free Installation

To find out if you qualify for the Access from AT&T program visit their secure application page or go here for more information about the program.

If you are having problems using the online application form, you can contact an AT&T representative by phone.

  • English Help – 855.220.5211
  • Spanish Help – 855.220.5225

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Spectrum Internet Assist Low Income Broadband

High-speed Internet at an affordable price

Charter Spectrum Internet Assist Low Income Internet

Spectrum Internet Assist

Charter’s Spectrum Internet Assist is among the fastest of the low income Internet assistance programs available. Spectrum Internet Assist boasts 30 Mbps broadband Internet speeds with no monthly data caps and free modem rental. However, at $14.99 per month, the price is also slightly higher than competing cable Internet provider’s low income programs such as Comcast Internet Essentials or Cox Connect2Compete which are priced at $9.95 and include a free WiFi router. Charter charges an additional $5.00 per month to rent a WiFi router.

In case you didn’t know, Charter Communications recently merged with Time-Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The new marketing name will be Spectrum. The new company is now the second largest cable provider in America, serving over 24 million customers and employing over 90,000.

“Charter is excited to bring a whole new world of digital access and opportunity to hundreds of thousands of low income families and seniors. Spectrum Internet Assist is an important next step in providing true high-speed connections to those who would otherwise continue to face digital inequality in this country,”

“It’s important for cable and broadband providers like us to play a role in bridging the digital divide so that everyone has access to the information and tools they need to succeed in today’s economy,” said Tom Rutledge, Chairman and CEO, Charter Communications.

Spectrum Internet Assist Requirements

In order to qualify for the Spectrum Internet Assist discount,  a resident at the service address must be eligible for one of the following programs:

In addition to the requirements above prospective Spectrum Internet Assist enrollees must also meet these three criteria.

  1. You can’t have any unreturned equipment or outstanding debt within the last year with Charter, Time Warner Cable or Bright House Networks.
  2.  You cannot have had a broadband Internet service subscription with Charter, Time Warner Cable or Bright House Networks within 60 days of signing up.
  3. Obviously, you must reside in an area serviced by Spectrum High Speed Internet.

Discounted Internet Assist Features

  • 30 Mbps Download Speeds
  • No Monthly Data Caps
  • Free Internet Modem
  • Free Self Install
  • No Contract Required
  • Low Cost – $14.99 per Month

The Spectrum Internet Assist Internet package also includes all standard features such as, Security Suite, Email Accounts, etc.

Charter Spectrum WiFi is an additional $5.00 per month.

ISP 1 TIP: Wireless router’s are inexpensive, and you can purchase your own WiFi router to save the additional $5.00 fee.

Internet Assist – Apply Here

To apply for the Internet assist program visit the Spectrum Internet Assist Website .

You may also call the Spectrum Internet Assist toll-free helpline at 1-844-525-1574

Previous Low Income Internet Plans

The status of previous low income Internet programs such as the $9.95 Time Warner Cable’s Starter Internet service or Bright House Networks Connect2Compete $9.95 Internet are unknown at this time. It is suspected with the merger of the companies that these previous programs will be phased out in favor of the new $14.99 Charter’s Spectrum Internet Assist program.

Not in the Spectrum Internet Service Area?

If you are a low income family that needs access to low cost Internet but does not live in the Charter Spectrum service area, Check out our listing of other Low Income Internet Programs.

Related Low Income Posts:



Cox Low Income Internet Discount

Cox Low Income InternetCox Communications is the largest private telecom company in the U.S., with over 6 million residential and business customers. Cox is an avid participant in the non-profit Connect2Compete initiative whose mission is to provide affordable high speed Internet to low income Americans.

“Having a computer and Internet service at home is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity. Cox understands this new reality and works in the communities we serve to provide affordable Internet and devices to low-income students and their families through the Connect2Compete program.”

Cox partnered with Connect2Compete in 2012 to enable eligible low income households to receive discounted Cox high speed cable Internet for only $9.95 a month.

Since its inception, over 200,000 low income Americans have connected to the Internet using Cox’s Connect2Compete program.

Cox $9.95 Internet Details

  • 10 Mbps Internet Download Speed
  • Free Installation
  • Waived Modem Rental Fees

Cox Connect2Compete General Requirements

  • At least one student grades K-12 lives in your household
  • Your household must be participating in one of these government assistance programs: free or reduced lunch through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Public Housing (ConnectHome Program)
  • Have not subscribed to Cox High Speed Internet service in the last 90 days
  • No outstanding Cox bills or unreturned equipment

Cox ConnectHome Program

Through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ConnectHome program Cox Communications now offers home Internet service for $9.95 per month to eligible K-12 families with children residing in public housing including Vouchers and Section 8 (PBRA). This expands on Cox’s commitment to provide affordable high speed Internet to low income Americans.

Cox Connect2Compete Application

If you know a low-income family who might be eligible, visit or call (855) 222-3252.

Connect2Compete (C2C) is a national non-profit organization that brings together many government, non profit and private sector partners who are dedicated to improving lives through the power of the Internet.

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Free or Low Cost Internet for Low Income Families

“Delivering on the Promise of Broadband & Access to Technology for All Americans”

According to a recent FCC report, There are still over 64 million people without home access to the Internet.  A disproportionate number of those are low income families. 43% of these American families cite the primary reason for not subscribing to a broadband Internet service is the high cost.

More than 80% of teachers surveyed believe that online learning improves education. Many students, mostly from low income households, do not have the luxury of a suitable computer with home high speed Internet access.

In today’s connected world, having access to an Internet connection has become a virtual necessity. The US Government and many leading American Internet providers are attempting to bridge this unfortunate digital divide by offering low cost Internet, computer and digital training programs for low income families.

Free Internet for Low Income

The FCC recently updated its Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers. The Lifeline program that provided Government subsidies that enabled low income Americans to have access to affordable telephone service has been expanded to include broadband Internet service.

The program offers a $9.25 monthly subsidy, to help lower income Americans afford Internet service. When combined with low cost Internet programs such as Connect2Compete, it can provide free Internet or reduce monthly Internet costs to near zero.

ISP Low Income Internet Programs

Access by At&t

AT&T’s Access Internet service is available in any of the 21 states where AT&T wired home Internet is offered. Depending on the Internet speeds available in your location, the monthly cost will either be $10 for the 10 Mbps or 5 Mbps plans or $5 for the 3 Mbps Internet connection.

Read More…

Bright House Networks Connect2Compete

Bright House Networks is also proud to be a partner in the nationally recognized and supported program, Connect2Compete, which provides low-cost, discounted broadband Internet service to qualified households with at least one child in grades K-12. Read the FAQ for more information on Connect2Compete.

Charter acquired Bright house Networks.  See Charter Spectrum Internet Assist.

CenturyLink Internet Basics

Get connected with CenturyLink Internet Basics affordable Internet for low income households. Internet basics offers $9.95 a month Internet for up to 12 months with no modem rental fees for the first year.

Application Form –


Internet Basics Update Coming Soon…

Charter – Spectrum Internet Assist

Charter’s Spectrum Internet Assist is among the fastest of the low income Internet assistance programs available. Spectrum Internet Assist costs $14.99 per month and boasts 30 Mbps broadband Internet speeds with no monthly data caps and free modem rental.

Read More…

Comcast Internet Essentials

If you live in an area served by Comcast Cable and qualify for their Internet Essentials program, you can get a 10 Mbps high speed Internet plan for the highly-discounted price of only $9.95 per month. This low price also includes equipment rental fees and a free WiFi router.

Read More…

Cox Connect2Compete

Cox is an avid participant in the non-profit Connect2Compete initiative whose mission is to provide affordable high speed Internet to low income Americans.

“Having a computer and Internet service at home is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity. Cox understands this new reality and works in the communities we serve to provide affordable Internet and devices to low-income students and their families through the Connect2Compete program.”

Cox partnered with Connect2Compete in 2012 to enable eligible low income households to receive discounted Cox high speed cable Internet for only $9.95 a month.

Read More…

Eagle Communications – Connect2Compete

Eagle Communications in conjunction with the EveryoneOne Connect2Compete program provides this offer. Families who qualify for free lunches through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) can receive 5 Mbps high-speed Internet service for $9.95 per month and free modem use for two years.


Google Fiber Broadband

If you live in a Google Fiber neighborhood with a low rate of Internet connectivity, you may qualify for discounted 25 Mbps Google Fiber Broadband for only $15 per month with no data caps or equipment rental and free installation.


Mediacom – EveryoneOn

Mediacom offers up to 1.5 Mbps Internet for $9.95 per month with free professional installation. You can start the application process by completing this form or by calling one of our representatives at 1-855-904-2225.


Time Warner Cable – Low Income Internet

Our Everyday Low Price (ELP) Internet plan is an economical way for customers to enjoy Internet access for light use such as email, surfing or shopping. It is best for customers who only have one or two devices that they want to connect to the Internet.

Charter acquired Time Warner Cable.  See Charter Spectrum Internet Assist.

More Low Income Internet Resources


A multi-vendor eCommerce platform that provides affordable computers and Internet to nonprofit organizations and low income individuals.

Address: 3415 Stone Way N, Seattle, WA 98103
Phone: 206-633-1517 (Ext 124)

EveryoneOn/ Connect2Compete

EveryoneOn is a national nonprofit working to eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low-cost Internet service and computers, and free digital literacy courses accessible to all unconnected Americans.

Through partnerships with local Internet service providers, EveryoneOn is able to offer free or $9.95 home Internet service in 48 states and the District of Columbia. We work with device refurbishers, so individuals and their families can purchase discounted devices.

We collaborate with libraries and nonprofits to advertise free computer & Internet courses at over 8,000 training sites across the country.

Connect2Compete (C2C) is EveryoneOn’s flagship program for K-12 students and provides affordable Internet and devices to students and families that qualify for the National School Lunch Program. C2C is offered in partnership with leading cable companies, including Cox, Bright House Networks, MediaCom, Suddenlink, Comcast’s Internet Essentials and others.

Eligible customers receive fast, affordable Internet for as low as $9.95 per month (plus tax). For most customers, there is no deposit required, contracts to sign, or installation or modem rental fees.

Contact Form:
Address: 718 7th Street NW, Second Floor, Washington, DC 20001

Lifeline Broadband Program

Since 1985, the Lifeline program has provided a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services. Lifeline is part of the Universal Service Fund. The Lifeline program is available to eligible low-income consumers in every state, territory, commonwealth, and on Tribal lands.

On March 31, 2016, the Commission adopted a comprehensive reform and modernization of the Lifeline program. In the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order, the Commission included broadband as a support service in the Lifeline program.


PCs for People

PCs for People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit striving to bridge the digital divide by providing the necessary tools to put a functional computer into the hands of low-income individuals and get them online.

At PCs for People we work hard to provide these services because we know the importance of having affordable access to technology in the home. Statistically speaking, better access leads to an increase in graduation rates, economic output, and long-term employment.

Address: 1548 W Alameda Ave Unit C, Denver, CO 80223
Phone: 720-278-7725

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Comcast Internet Essentials for Low Income Families

Comcast Internet EssentialsAffordable Home Internet

Comcast Cable is the largest broadband provider in the US, serving approximately 25 million high speed Internet subscribers. Comcast provides coverage in wide range of cities spread across 39 states and the District of Columbia.

Comcast initiated their Internet Essentials program in 2011 to help millions of low income Americans bridge the rapidly increasing digital divide.

David L. Cohen, Comcast Corporation Senior Executive Vice President said, “Ralph and Brian have instilled within our culture the driving ethos of our community investment philosophy, which is when the communities we serve thrive, the Company thrives as well. Our resolve to close the digital divide is stronger than ever, and we invite everyone who shares that vision to work with us to create even more digital opportunity in the year ahead. Source: Bridging the Digital Divide briefing August 2016

If you live in an area served by Comcast Cable and qualify for their Internet Essentials program, you can get a 10 Mbps high speed Internet plan for the highly-discounted price of only $9.95 per month. This low price also includes equipment rental fees and a free WiFi router. This will enable Essentials customers to connect their Internet enabled WiFi devices such as smartphones and tablets and possibly save them money on their monthly wireless phone bills. The program is specifically designed to help low income folks enjoy the advantages of high speed Internet at a price that they can afford.


The program also offers subsidized Internet ready laptop or desktop computers to low income families for less than $150 and provides free Internet literacy and security training on their Internet Essentials website.  (Spanish Version – Internet Basico)

In the past five years Internet Essentials, has helped over 3 million low income Americans enjoy the awesome power of the Internet in their own homes.

Internet Essentials Expanded Eligibility

When the program first launched in 2011, only families with children in the free lunch program at school qualified for the Comcast Internet discount. Recently the program was expanded to include everyone living in HUD assisted housing. This change means that many more low income individuals including Americans without children, seniors and military veterans may now qualify for the $9.95 Internet Essentials program. Comcast is also including low income community college students and low income seniors that do not live in government assisted housing in select markets.

Basic Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for the Comcast Internet Essentials program that offers broadband Internet service for only $9.95 per month and the option to purchase a low-cost, Internet ready computer for less than $150 you must meet these basic eligibility requirements.

  • A household must have at least one child eligible to receive a free or reduced price school lunch via the National School Lunch Program in public, private or parochial schools. Home schooled and Internet “Cyber-School” students may also qualify for Internet Essentials.
  • Additionally, you may qualify for Internet Essentials if live in Government assisted housing (HUD) such as Public Housing, Section 8, Multi-Family etc.

Low Income Senior Discount

Comcast is offering a pilot Internet Essentials program for low-income seniors in the following cities, Boston MA, Palm Beach County FL, Philadelphia PA, San Francisco CA, and Seattle WA.

  • Senior must be 62 years of age or older.
  • Must live in a Comcast pilot market
  • Must receive federal or state public assistance.

Community College Student Internet

A pilot program is also available to low-income students enrolled in community college in the states of Colorado and Illinois. Pell grant students are eligible for the program.

In addition to the above Internet Essentials criteria , there are a few restrictions:

  • Obviously, Comcast Cable Internet must be available in your area, if not, many other Internet providers offer similar low income Internet service discounts click here for a complete listing.
  • You can’t have been subscribed to Comcast Internet within the previous 90-day period.
  • You cannot have an outstanding balance, or unreturned equipment belonging to Comcast. Note: Comcast is now offering amnesty for those who are otherwise eligible for Internet Essentials and have a past due balance, providing the debt is older than one year.

Streamlined (Quick Approval) Process

If more than 40 percent of the students in your child’s school participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), you can be instantly approved for the Internet Essentials Program without submitting any additional documentation.

For Public Housing applicants, you can receive instant approval if your home address is located within a public housing development.

Comcast Internet Essentials Video

Published on Jan 20, 2016

Host Tonia Caruso talks with Bob Grove, Vice President of Public Relations, Comcast, about Internet Essentials and program updates. Comcast makes available low-cost Internet service and discounted computer equipment, and other offerings, to families with at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program.

Internet Essentials Phone Numbers

  • English:  855-846-8376
  • Spanish:  855-765-6695

Comcast Internet Essentials Highlights

Through the end of June 2016, Comcast has:

  • Helped over 750,000 American families to take advantage of the Comcast Internet Essentials program.
  • Invested more than $300 million in to help fund digital literacy education.
  • Created Internet Essentials Learning Zones and dedicated more than $1.8 million in grants.
  • Provided over 54,000 subsidized $150 computers to low income program participants.
  • Distributed nearly 53 million Internet Essentials program materials.
  • Welcomed more than 6.4 million visitors to the Internet Essentials websites.
  • Offered Internet Essentials to nearly 55,000 schools in more than 5,000 school districts.
  • Partnered with over 9,000 community-based organizations, government agencies, and elected officials to spread the word about Internet Essentials from Comcast.

Comcast Cable Internet Availability

Comcast Internet Essentials Map

Comcast Internet Essentials Map

Comcast offers high speed Internet service in portions of the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia (DC).

For more information on the Comcast Internet Essentials program, and to find out if you qualify or apply for the program, visit their website: or call toll free 1-855-846-8376.

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New Cox Contour 2 Review

I will review the new Cox Contour system with XR-11 voice remotes. The system is referred to by various names such as Contour 2, Contour 6, Contour TV, the New Contour, etc. depending on where you look.

What distinguishes the new Contour system from the first-generation Contour is the voice activated remotes and the sleek X1 user interface that Cox licensed from Comcast. We posted the Cox – Comcast X1 licensing deal here.

I have used both extensively, and can attest from personal experience that the new Contour is light years ahead of the old, clunky Contour system.

Cox Residential Background

I have used Cox Communications residential services including high speed Internet, digital telephone and digital television systems with multiple DVR’s for more than 15 years and have been impressed with the speed and technology increases that Cox has initiated during this period.

I recently had the new Cox Gigablast fiber optic Internet service installed. Cox offered a great deal, and I would also recommend upgrading to Gigablast Internet if it is available in your area. The speeds are Incredible, I get almost 1 Gbps both upload and download speeds. I posted a detailed review of the Gigablast install here.

Cox Contour 2 Receivers Review

I have the Contour Record 6 HD-DVR, which is a Cisco Explorer 9865HDC and includes 6 tuners and a 2 Terabyte hard disk that can store up to a thousand hours of SD video or 340 hours of HD video.

The Cisco 9865HDC dimensions are 13 inches by 9 inches with a height of 2.25 inches, which is somewhat smaller than previous Cox DVRs that I have used.

Contour Record 6 HD-DVR

Contour Record 6 HD-DVR

Here is a picture of the back panel of the Cox 9865HDC, showing the connections.

  1. Ethernet Port (Inactive)
  2. USB Ports (Inactive)
  3. Cable In
  4. RCA Out
  5. Audio Out
  6. Component Out
  7. IR Port
  8. Optical Audio Out
  9. eSATA Port (Inactive)
  10. HDMI Out
  11. CableCARD Slot
  12. AC Power In

The record 6 DVR communicates with other TVs in your house via MoCA using Pace XiD HD Receivers. At about 5.5” x 3.5“ and just over an inch tall, these receivers are much smaller than Cox’s previous Contour systems. This system allows you to schedule recordings, view recorded content and pause a recording in one room and resume watching in another, which is an pretty cool feature.

Cox Contour Pace XiD HD Receiver

Here is a picture of the back panel of the Pace XiD HD receiver, showing the connections.

  1. Cable In
  2. Cable Out
  3. HDMI In (Inactive)
  4. HDMI Out
  5. Power In

Cox Contour Installation

The new Contour whole house DVR system requires professional installation. This is due to the fact that it uses the coaxial cabling for network communication between devices. The system is called MoCA which stands for Multimedia over Coax Alliance. If you are interested in the technical details of how MoCA is used in the Cox Contour whole house DVR systems you can find it here.

A Cox technician will come out and verify that your cabling is adequate for the new Contour system. If not the tech will repair or replace any coaxial cabling, connections or other items that might be a problem. Signal levels are also verified to be within specifications and then the Contour equipment is professionally installed and configured. In my case several problems were found and corrected and the entire Contour installation took around two to three hours.

XR-11 Contour 2 Voice Remotes

The system uses XR-11 voice enabled remotes from Universal Electronics. Here is the Contour 2 Voice remote support page from the manufacturer.  or you can use the Cox remote support page.

The new Contour remote controls are backlit, which is a great feature when using in a dimly lit location. They also feature RF (Radio Frequency) control in addition to the standard IR (InfraRed) control. This enables you to operate the remote without a direct line of sight to the Cox receiver. Which is great if your receiver is in an entertainment cabinet. It also makes it much easier to operate the Contour remote. You can point it at the ceiling or behind your back, and it still works flawlessly.

The remote needs to be paired to the receiver for the RF control to work. Here is a video from Cox on how to setup the new Contour remote.

And another on how to use the new voice enabled remotes.

In case you are wondering, you can pair more than one XR-11 remote per receiver. I bought a few extras on eBay for around $10 each so my wife and I each had their own.Make sure you get the Cox Contour version and not the Comcast Xfinity ones. They look the same but only the Contour version will work properly. The proper Cox remote says “Contour” on the button below the blue microphone button.

Cox Contour Remote

Correct Contour Voice Remote

Contour TV Features

Everything about the new Contour system is better. The Guide is cleaner and more functional. It’s easy to search the guide and recorded programs using the voice remote. You just say a actor’s name to see a list of programs or movies that the actor was in. Simply say the name of a channel to change to that channel. Repeat a famous movie quote such as “I’ll be back” to instantly find Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator. You can say things such as “free movies”, “HBO on demand”, “Kevin Spacey Movies”, “show me some action movies” and much more.

Cast & Crew

Recorded shows on the Contour DVR can be managed easily and you can even recover an inadvertently deleted program.

Cox Contour Cast and Crew

Contour Cast & Crew

Contour TV Guide

The system provides detailed information about programs and actors. Get viewer ratings, running time, movie ratings and plot, on demand restart availability, and much much more.

Cox Cable Contour TV Guide

Contour TV Guide

Recently Deleted Contour Programs

The system even lets you recover recently deleted recordings in case you make a mistake and inadvertently delete a program that you wanted to keep. Works like the recycle bin on your PC. Recently deleted shows are easily restored to your recorded programs list.

Recently Deleted Contour Programs

Recently Deleted Contour Programs

Really too many features to list here, here is the Cox Contour Tour page which provides detailed explanations, pictures and videos of many of the new Contour system features.

And here is a Cox Contour Speak Find Feel Commercial

Contour Problems and Quirks

For the most part the New Cox Contour is a great system. There are a minor few things that I don’t personally care for.

  1. The last channel button does not take you immediately to the previous channel, instead it brings up a menu of the last nine programs that were watched including TV stations, DVR recordings, etc. This might be convenient for some users, but I preferred the instant switch.
  2. The Contour receiver reboots itself at approximately 3:00 AM every night. This is likely suitable for most users; however, I work nights and on my days off I am often watching programs at that time. It does give you the option to postpone, but still a minor irritation.
Contour Automatic Restart

Contour Automatic Restart

The Contour receivers automatically update firmware and software on the devices. Usually this is not a problem other than the annoyance of waiting for the update to install and reboot. I have had the system for almost a year. Once one of my Pace XiD HD Receivers got stuck performing an update and I saw this error screen.

Contour Pace XiD Update Error

Contour Pace XiD Update Error

Luckily, I didn’t have to call Cox Technical Support. The problem resolved itself after about 45 minutes and the Contour update completed successfully.

UPDATE: I recently discovered an additional problem concerning simultaneous recording on the Cox Record 6 DVR.

Record 6 DVR Simultaneous Recording

A few days ago I got this error message from my Cox Record 6 DVR:

Cox Contour Record 6 DVR All Tuners Are in Use Problem

All Tuners Are in Use

I thought this was a strange error, all other TVs in the house were off, surely I wasn’t currently recording 6 programs.

Upon further investigation, I confirmed that only three shows were recording at this time. I had to cancel a recording in order to watch live TV. Suspecting a problem with the multiple Cox client boxes, that are installed in remote rooms, I posted this on the Cox Support Forum:

“I have the Contour record 6 Cisco Explorer 9865HDC DVR and three client boxes, I believe they are Pace XiD HD models.

The problem is, each client box uses one of the tuners on the record 6 DVR, no matter if the client box is actively viewing content or not.

This means that if three shows are simultaneously recording on the DVR, you can not watch live TV using the record 6 DVR. The system prompts you to disable one of the currently recording programs in order to view live TV.

On the previous Contour system there was a menu option to disable buffering on the client boxes, which freed up the tuner. On the new Contour system, I can not find this setting.

Is there a fix for this annoying problem?”

Here is the response that I received from a Cox representative.

” With the contour 2 system each client box takes up a tuner. You have 3 client boxes that are using 3 of your tuners and when you are recording 3 programs at once, you will not be able to watch live TV. Unlike Contour 1 there are no settings within the box to change this feature. You can trade out one of your client boxes for a non-DVR host box which will add 4 extra tuners to your system.”

I inquired about additional monthly fees for the 4 tuner host box which I believe is a Pace XG2.

The Cox Support forum would not discuss pricing but invited me to email Cox Help with my account details for more information. The reply is shown below.

There are 2 options. Replace 1 of your client boxes with a  host box that includes tuners for live TV for itself and the other clients, with you with no price increase. The other option is to replace one of the clients with a second DVR that will give you 6 more tuners that can be used for live TV or recording programs. and additional storage space with a monthly charge of $19.99.  Both options would have in professional installation charge of $75.

The 4 tuner box at the same price was appealing, but not the $75 installation charge.

I think I’ll put it off until the next time I have a Cox technician here for something else and see if they will set it up. A temporary workaround that I have discovered is to simply disconnect the power to an unused client box. This frees up an additional tuner for each Pace XiD client box that is disconnected.

I think I might even connect the client receivers to my voice activated home automation system which I reviewed here. Then I can turn the remote Contour receivers on and off with my smartphone or simply say “Alexa turn on the den receiver” to one of my Amazon Echo Dots.

I wondered why Cox didn’t include the multi tuner XG2 boxes with all multi-room installs. If you are having a new multi-room Cox Contour system installed, ask the Cox installer to include the HD receivers with integral tuners to avoid additional installation fees in the future.

Cox Contour Demo Videos


Even taking into account the few technical problems that I have encountered, overall the new Contour Record 6 DVR system is the best that I have used. If you have Cox Cable television service, it would be a good upgrade if Cox will give you a deal on Contour pricing.

Recent Cox Cable Posts:


Netgear WiFi Range Extender with Ethernet Port

Boost Your WiFi Signal

 Boost WiFi Signals

There are many situations where a WiFi range extender with a Ethernet port or two might be what you need to simply solve poor wireless signal problems.

The WiFi Dead Zone

No matter how strong your router’s WiFi signal is, invariably there will be areas of your home or yard where the wireless signal is weak or disappears completely. This is because WiFi signals don’t travel well through various objects, such as dense walls, metal objects such as appliances, etc. Electrical interference from microwave ovens, cordless phones and similar devices also weaken the WiFi signal strength.

Boost Your WiFi From Your Wireless Router

Before buying a wireless range extender or other WiFi amplifier, you’ll want to be sure your existing WiFi signal is optimized. If your router is several years you should probably upgrade to a newer model. Modern routers use better technology such as dual and tri-band, and beamforming to provide faster WiFi to multiple devices.  Choose a central location for your router, preferably up high and away from other electrical devices. Also, make sure that you have set a complex WiFi password. This will prevent neighbors from slowing your Internet connection by stealing your bandwidth.

Connect stationary devices to your router via Ethernet cables. This will free up your wireless signals for the portable devices that require WiFi. If it is not practical to run Ethernet cables to your equipment, then powerline network adapters would be a good alternative. Powerline network adapters utilize your existing electrical wiring to extend an Ethernet connection.

My WiFi Is Still Slow

OK, so you followed the tips above to speed up your WiFi and it is still slow or drops out completely in certain locations in your home. You are a candidate for wireless range extenders and/or WiFi range extenders with Ethernet port(s).  These are also called wireless signal boosters, Internet boosters or WiFi amplifiers and are sold by many leading electronics suppliers such as Netgear, TP-Link, Linksys, Securifi, D-Link, TrendNet, Amped Wireless and more. This review will focus on Netgear WiFi Range Extenders with Ethernet Ports.

WiFi Extenders vs Powerline WiFi Extenders

Either of these devices can dramatically increase your WiFi range without running any Ethernet cabling. If you can easily run Ethernet cables to problem areas, then I would recommend using WAPs (Wireless Access Points) instead. WAPs connect to your router via Ethernet and then broadcast a WiFi signal.

WiFi Extenders

Netgear AC 1900 Wireless ExtenderA WiFi extender boosts your wireless coverage area by receiving your existing WiFi signal from your router amplifying and repeating it using its own wireless radio. WiFi extenders should be located midway between your router and the area where the WiFi signal is weak.

NETGEAR AC1900 WiFi Range Extender – Essentials Edition (EX6400)

The Netgear EX6400 is a top rated dual band wireless range extender that boosts your existing wireless network range, utilizing dual band 801.11 AC WiFi that delivers up to 1900 Mbps. The Netgear EX6400 is ideal for HD video streaming and gaming and works with any standard WiFi router.

With over 15,000 customer reviews the EX6400 gets 4 out of 5 stars which is an excellent rating.


  • Ideal for extending WiFi to devices like the iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, iPad Air 2, and MacBook Pro
  • Extreme dual band Wireless speed – up to 1.9 Gbps
  • High-power amplifiers & internal antenna array increases wireless range
  • MU-MIMO for simultaneously streaming to multiple devices
  • FastLane Technology – Use both WiFi bands to establish one super high-speed connection; ideal for HD streaming & gaming
  • Works with any standard router or gateway

Check the current price for the NETGEAR AC1900 WiFi Range Extender at Amazon by clicking below.

Check Current NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band WiFi Gigabit Router Price


Wi-Fi Extender Installation

Advantages of WiFi Extenders

  • Easiest Installation
  • Lowest Cost WiFi Booster
  • Quick Wireless Speed Boost

Disadvantages of WiFi Extenders

  • Susceptible to Interference
  • Must Be Able to Pick Up Existing WiFi Signal
  • Typically Slower than Powerline Extenders

Powerline WiFi Extenders

Netgear PLW1010-Essentials-Edition Powerline WiFi Extender

   Netgear PLW1010 Essentials Edition

Powerline WiFi extenders are sold as a set. One connects to your router via Ethernet and the other plugs into the area where you want to boost the WiFi coverage. They are typically more expensive than standard wireless extenders, but can be located anywhere that is powered by the same electrical panel as the base unit. They use your existing electrical wiring for network communications and thus don’t require a WiFi signal from the router. They are also immune from WiFi interference issues, since they don’t rely on a WiFi connection to your router.

Note: Plug the powerline wireless extender directly into a electrical outlet. Do not use surge suppressing power strips as they can interfere with full speed operation of the device.

NETGEAR PowerLINE 1000 Mbps WiFi, 802.11ac, 1 Gigabit Port – Essentials Edition (PLW1010-100NAS)

The is a Netgear PLW1010-100NAS is top rated Powerline Wireless Extender with 801.11 AC WiFi and a Gigabit Ethernet port. With over 1200 Amazon customer reviews this booster also gets a excellent 4 stars.

Increased WiFi Connectivity for Mobile Devices

  • Gigabit PowerLINE WiFi speed.
  • Perfect for connecting smart TVs, streaming players and game consoles.
  • Ideal for 4K streaming & lag-free gaming.
  • Pick-a-plug LED for highest possible performance.
  • Sets up in minutes, no need to install software.
  • Secures the network connection with the touch of a button.
  • Energy saving – powers down when not connected.
  • Creates a new WiFi hotspot anywhere in your house.

Check the current price for the NETGEAR PLW1010 Powerline Wireless Range Extender at Amazon by clicking below.

Check Current NETGEAR NETGEAR PowerLINE 1000 Mbps WiFi, 802.11ac, 1 Gigabit Port - Essentials Edition (PLW1010-100NAS) Price

Powerline WiFi Booster with Ethernet Port

Advantages of Powerline WiFi Extenders

  • Immune from WiFi Interference
  • Existing WiFi Signal Not Needed
  • Usually Faster Than Wireless WiFi Boosters

Disadvantages of Powerline WiFi Extenders

  • More Expensive
  • Requires a Minimum of 2 Units
  • Must Have Access to Router Ethernet LAN Port

WiFi Range Extenders with Ethernet Ports

Regardless of which type you buy, you’ll want the models that include Ethernet ports in addition to the wireless extender.

Netgear Powerline Wi-Fi 1000

The Ethernet port enables you to connect devices such as video game consoles, smart TVs, etc. to your extended wireless network via Ethernet to minimize the number of WiFi connections and traffic. Some models include multiple Ethernet ports or you can connect a multi-port Ethernet switch to a WiFi range extender with one Ethernet port.

Slow Internet Speed

Remember, if your Internet speed from your ISP is slow than no router, booster, amplifier or other device regardless of speed and cost will increase your Internet speed. The only way to speed up a slow Internet connection is to get a faster Internet speed package or change to a faster Internet service provider.

I had Cox Gigablast Internet Installed and the speeds are amazing.

Cox Gigablast Ethernet Speed Test

Cox Gigablast Ethernet Speed Test

If you have good WiFi you will get excellent wireless speed also.

Smartphone Wireless AC Speedtest

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Smartphone WiFi Speedtest

Good luck boosting your wireless signal and thus your Internet speed.


Linksys Velop Whole Home WiFi Mesh System


Linksys Velop Whole Home WiFi Mesh System

Linksys Velop Whole Home WiFi System

Looking for a simple solution for slow and problem WiFi in your home?

The Linksys Velop Tri-band AC6600 Whole Home WiFi Mesh System might be just the ticket to solve your WiFi problems. The Linksys Velop is a high performance modular tri-band WiFi mesh system that makes complex networking setup unnecessary to provide strong WiFi in problem areas.

The modular Velop design automatically configures tri-band communication between the nodes in your WiFi environment to ensure high WiFi speeds in all areas.  The new WiFi mesh design is comparable to competing mesh WiFi systems from top manufacturers such as Netgear Orbi, Eero, AmpliFi HD and Luma. You can read the ISP 1 Eero Home WiFi review here.

Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi Solution Video from Linksys

The Linksys Velop is due to be released in mid January of 2017 and you can check current pricing by clicking the button below. We like to examine the customer reviews, however the Linksys Velop AC6600 is in pre-release, so there are no reviews yet.


Check Current Linksys Velop Tri-band AC6600 Whole Home WiFi Mesh System Price

Linksys Velop System Setup

The Velop WiFi system is dead simple to setup – 4 easy steps.

  1. Download the Linksys App
  2. Connect to Your ISP Modem
  3. Name WiFi & Create Password
  4. Place Velop Nodes Throughout Your Home

You can download the Linksys App for iOS or Android here.

Linksys video showing how easy it is to set up the Velop.

Linksys Velop ImageSleek Compact Styling

The beautiful sleek styling and small size of the Velop units ensure that you can put them wherever needed for optimal wireless performance. The Velop has a 88% smaller footprint than a traditional router. The integrated cable management system ensures unsightly cable connections are hidden and the modern tower design styling looks good even when placed in plain sight.

Tri-Band Mesh WiFi Technology

The Velop uses state of the art Dynamic Tri-Band Mesh WiFi technology to deliver the fastest speeds to multiple wireless devices. It accomplishes this by using three separate WiFi radios, each tuned for optimal performance. The Velop nodes communicate with each other so they can provide 100% of the WiFi speed to all areas as opposed to conventional WiFi extenders which lose up to 50% of the available wireless speed.

Modular WiFi System

The modular design of the Velop system overcomes typical problem WiFi situations such as multi-story homes, basements and brick walls, and large area WiFi coverage. You simply add additional Velop nodes to work around walls, problem areas, or multiple stories.

Each node of a Linksys Velop system can cover 2000 SF, so a 3 unit system can provide high speed WiFi to a 6000 SF area.

Mobile WiFi Management

Using the Linksys mobile App you can remotely customize, manage and monitor from anywhere at anytime using your smartphone. You can create a separate guest network, and share the WiFi password via text message or email. You also have full control of common router features such as viewing or editing the WiFi SSID or password, adding or checking connected devices, rebooting the router, checking for firmware updates, and more.

Works with Amazon Alexa

Amazon Alexa voice control support is hot. Read our recent post about Amazon Alexa Smart Home Automation.  The Linksys Velop Home WiFi System has Alexa support. Just say “Alexa, ask Linksys how to connect to my WiFi,” and Amazon Alexa helps you log on to your Velop home WiFi in no time.

How to connect the Velop with Alexa video

Getting guests online is a snap with Velop and Amazon Alexa. Using the command, Alexa, ask Linksys to turn on my guest WiFi,” you can turn on your guest WiFi, and even ask Alexa for the network name and password.

How to turn on Velop’s guest Wi-Fi with Alexa video


Linksys Velop Connections

Linksys Velop Connections

Linksys Velop Connections

    1. Reset button – Press to reset the router to its factory defaults and hold for about six (6) seconds until the light on top of the node turns red, fades and flashes bright red again.
    2. Ethernet ports – Two (2) Gigabit Ethernet ports – configurable as one (1) WAN and one (1) LAN for the first node, and two (2) LAN for the remaining nodes.
    3. Power switch – Press to power the node ON or OFF.
    4. Power port – Connect the included AC power adapter to this port.


Velop Technical Specifications

Wi-Fi Technology:  Tri-Band AC2200 (867 + 867 + 400 Mbps)‡ with MU-MIMO and 256 QAM

Key Features:

  • Simultaneous Tri-Band Wi-Fi Mesh System
  • Seamless Wi-Fi
  • Easy App Controls
  • 3-Year Warranty and Support
  • AutoFix & Instant Alerts
  • Works with Alexa

Wi-Fi Bands:  Simultaneous Tri-Band (2.4Ghz + 5GHz + 5GHz)
Number of Ethernet Ports:  2x WAN/LAN auto-sensing Gigabit Ethernet ports
Antennas:  6x internal antennas and high powered amplifiers
Processor:  716 MHz Quad Core
Memory:  4 GB Flash and 512 MB RAM
Wireless Encryption:  WPA2 personal
Easy Setup:  Simple and secured App based set-up
Required for set-up: (1) Internet connection with Modem. (2) Mobile device with Android 4.4 or iOS 8 and higher, Bluetooth preferred.
Dimensions (LxWxH):  3.1″ x 3.1″ x 7.3″ per Node
Security Features:  WPA2 personal
Additional Information:  Bluetooth 4.0/LE for secure and easy App based set-up
Beamforming: for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands

Velop Downloads

Velop (WHW0301, WHW0302, WHW0303) Downloads

Linksys VELOP Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System Support Page


Our Review Recommendation

The Velop System is a bit pricey and not for everyone. If you have a large home with problem WiFi and want one of the best WiFi solutions currently available, then the Linksys Velop might be just what you need.

However if you have a smaller home or the Velop is beyond your budget, then take a look at our review of the TP-Link Archer C7 . The Archer C7 is the best value high-performance dual band router that we currently recommend.

The Velop is due to be released in mid January of 2017 and you can check current Linksys Velop Tri-band AC6600 Whole Home WiFi Mesh System pricing by clicking the button below. We will update this review after release of the product.


Check Current Linksys Velop Tri-band AC6600 Whole Home WiFi Mesh System Price


Best WiFi Router Deal | TP-Link Archer C7

Looking for the best home WiFi router deal?

TP-Link Archer C7 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router

TP-Link Archer C7 Router

The TP-Link Archer C7 Dual Band Wireless Router would be our #1 recommendation for most users.
The combination of low price, great wireless range, and high WiFi speeds make the TP-Link Archer C7 a hands down winner in the below $100 dual-band wireless router category. As a matter of fact, the Archer C7 outperforms many routers costing twice as much or more.

#1 Best Seller in Computer Routers

The TP-Link Archer C7 is the #1 best seller in Amazon’s Computer Routers Category. At the time of this writing the C7 had a Amazon customer rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars with a lofty 5,781 verified purchase reviews, of which 61% or 3,465 reviews gave the Archer C7 5 stars.

Simple Set-Up

The Archer C7 is very easy to setup, configure and manage. It features a Easy Setup Assistant that supports multiple languages. You can also download the free TP-Link Tether app for your smartphone or tablet. The Tether Mobile Interface is available for either iOS or Android devices and enables you to control all of your WiFi settings via your smartphone or tablet.

TP-Link Archer C7 Features

The C7 is a AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router with 6 antennas for excellent WiFi range.

  • Dual Band 2.4 GHz (Up to 450 Mbps) + 5 GHz (Up to 1300 Mbps)
  • Powerful CPU for Faster Processing
  • Wireless AC1750 for Faster WiFi
  • Customizable QoS for More Bandwidth
  • Guest Network Access
  • Intuitive Mobile Interface
  • 3x External Antennas + 3x Internal Antennas
  • 4x Gigabit Ethernet Ports + 1x Gigabit WAN Port
  • 2x USB Ports – Share Files, Media and Printers
  • 2-Year Warranty & Unlimited Technical Support (1-866-225-8139)

ISP 1 Recommendation

I always recommend downloading the product manual and checking to make sure features and specifications of are particular product are what you expect before purchasing. You can download the TP-Link Archer C7 Manual here.  Another cool feature of this specific TP-Link router is the Archer C7 User Interface emulator which lets you simulate navigation through all of the router’s administrative setup and configuration screens. If you are considering a new high performance router check out the current price of the TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router on Amazon.

Check Current TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (AC1750)Price
Excerpts from the TP-Link website:

802.11ac The Next Generation of WiFi

TP-Link’s Archer C7 wireless router supports 802.11ac,  the next generation WiFi standard. 802.11ac  speed is 3 times faster than wireless N and has a combined wireless data transfer rate of up to 1.75 Gbps. for seamless HD streaming, online gaming and other bandwidth-intensive tasks.

  • 2.4 GHz Band – 450 Mbps
  • 5 GHz Band – 1300 Mbps

External Antennas for Fully Expanded Coverage

With 3 external dual band antennas combined with higher quality antenna technology, you can maintain high speeds across greater distances. This provides you with incredible wireless coverage and reliability from anywhere in your large home or office.

Archer C7 Router Connections

Dual Multi-functional USB Ports for Storage and Sharing

With 2 multi-functional USB 2.0 ports, you can share printers, files and media with devices through your local network or via the ftp server while away from home.

Concurrent Dual Band Connections for Lag-Free Work and Entertainment

The Archer C7 operates over both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, ensuring amazing wireless performance. Simultaneous Dual Band offers you the flexibility of two dedicated networks – with multiple times the bandwidth for your needs. Simple tasks like sending e-mails or web browsing can be handled by the 2.4GHz band while bandwidth intensive tasks like online gaming or HD video streaming can be processed by the 5GHz band – all at the same time.

Full Gigabit Wired Connections for Ultra-fast Data Transfer Speeds

With 1 Gigabit WAN port and 4 Gigabit LAN ports, speeds can be up to 10× faster than standard Ethernet connections. The Archer C7 is a powerful hub to support a robust and extremely fast wired network.

TP-Link Archer C7 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router Links


Check Current TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (AC1750)Price