Holiday Buyer's Guide 2005

Boosting Broadband With Hawking's HBB1

A common element in the line-up of Gigabit-capable consumer-grade devices available in today's marketplace is the UBICOM StreamEngine. The StreamEngine is a network traffic management technology that supports QOS, adjusting packet priorities automatically as they fly across its interfaces, to forward them at the highest possible levels of efficiency. As with the DI-102 also reviewed in this guide, the idea is to push time-sensitive traffic to the front of any pending service queue. This minimizes delays for services where slowdowns can impact signal quality or mess with user perceptions, while slowing services where fast-as-possible delivery matters little if at all.

In fact, the StreamEngine appears in a handful of home and small-office network devices, including D-Link's line of GamerLounge wireless routers. It's also a key component in Hawking Technology's Broadband Booster, better known as the Hawking HBB1. This kind of technology is best suited for network environments where multiple users or communication sessions are active at any given moment. A single user environment will accrue little benefit from using an HBB1, unless it's showing problems with voice quality on VoIP or image quality on streaming video (and the cause can't be tied to a slow Internet link).

According to the vendor, the HBB1 can "Boost the speed of your Internet applications by up to 400%." This really translates into something like: "Make more effective use of available bandwidth when multiple workstations or time-sensitive network applications compete for a shared medium." In simpler terms, VoIP calls that suffer during periods of increased load will no longer lose as much line quality, and streaming online video applications will see some improvement in overall performance. Even online gaming - with an Xbox, PS2, Gamecube, or PC - stands to benefit from the effects of inserting Hawking's HBB1 device in-line between your modem and your switch or router, especially when they are used along with other real-time applications.

It's compatible with all broadband networks, at home and on the road. File-sharing and P2P applications needn't slow down a NetMeeting conference any more, either. Best of all, it's fully plug-and-play compliant, which makes the device trivial to install and use. Simply plug one network connection into a PC or router, and the other directly into the modem itself. Insert the power plug into its corresponding AC jack, and the HBB1 comes to life, improving real-time network traffic response and handling.

Bring joy and merriment to a network-savvy loved one by giving a Hawking HBB1. At an MSRP of $89.99, it won't break your Xmas budget, and also makes for a good high-tech stocking stuffer.

Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a long-time IT writer, researcher and consultant, and occasional contributor to Tom’s Hardware. A Windows Insider MVP since 2018, he likes to cover OS-related driver, troubleshooting, and security topics.