Tag Archives: Wireless

Despite FCC Rules, Linksys Will Keep Its Routers Open and Let You Hack Them

Despite FCC Rules, Linksys Will Keep Its Routers Open and Let You Hack Them

Back in 2015, the FCC introduced new guidelines that looked like a threat to anyone wanting to hack and install open firmwares on their routers. They backed off, but a lot of manufacturers are still locking their devices down, just in case. Linksys, the company just announced, isn’t one of them.

In its defense, the FCC clarified its own rules back in 2015, pointing out their goal was never to stop users from hacking and tweaking their own electronics, but to reduce interference with FAA Doppler radar systems—which, the FCC noted, often comes from household devices that have been reconfigured to operate outside of their normal frequency bands (more specifically, devices with Dynamic Frequency Selection, or DFS, a feature already available in stock firmwares of most consumer routers, disabled.)

http://lifehacker.com/psa-yes-you-ca…

Linksys says that even though blocking custom firmware (the way TP-Link plans to do) would be the easier way to comply with the new rules, it’s possible to include security to stop DFS from being disabled without locking the router down completely, and that’s what they plan to do.

http://lifehacker.com/tp-link-blocks…

Ars Technica explains:

Any 5GHz routers sold on or after June 2 must include security measures that prevent these types of changes. But router makers can still allow loading of open source firmware as long as they also deploy controls that prevent devices from operating outside their allowed frequencies, types of modulation, power levels, and so on.

This takes more work than simply locking out third-party firmware entirely, but Linksys, a division of Belkin, made the extra effort. On and after June 2, newly sold Linksys WRT routers will store RF parameter data in a separate memory location in order to secure it from the firmware, the company says. That will allow users to keep loading open source firmware the same way they do now.

Other Linksys routers, such as Max-Stream devices, will block open source firmware. But continuing support on the WRT line is a natural move for Linksys, given that the OpenWrt and DD-WRT third-party firmware was originally built for the company’s WRT54G routers more than a decade ago.

So here’s to good guy Linksys, even though their decision is clearly as much marketing as it is technical. Other manufacturers haven’t come down on one side or the other on the debate just yet (which means they’ll probably lock themselves down), but the developers of OpenWRT, one of our favorite custom firmwares, tell Ars Technica that Linksys is the only one that’s approached them with clear support.

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-choose-…

You can read more, and get the full backstory, at the link below.

Linksys WRT routers won’t block open source firmware, despite FCC rules | Ars Technica

Logitech’s Bluetooth Audio Adapter Turns Any Pair of Speakers into Wireless Ones

Logitech's Bluetooth Audio Adapter Turns Any Pair of Speakers into Wireless Ones

If you have a great pair of bookshelf speakers or even computer speakers, but wish you could stream music from a phone, a laptop, or another device without rearranging wires, Logitech’s Bluetooth Audio Adapter is for you. It’s tiny, affordable, and makes any set of speakers you plug it into Bluetooth and wireless.

For about $27 at Amazon, Logitech’s Bluetooth Audio Adapter can turn just about any set of speakers into Bluetooth ones. That’s a huge deal if you have an audio setup that you love, or invested good money into, but you want the good sound your quality speakers offer but have laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other audio sources in your home that aren’t connected to them. Just connect the audio adapter to your receiver or your speakers via 3.5mm or RCA, power it up, and you have a new Bluetooth audio device in your home.

Put the adapter into pairing mode, and pair it with any other Bluetooth devices—your laptop that’s not connected to your stereo, your iPad or Android tablet, your friend’s phone (who’s over to visit and wants to play you his new favorite track), your spouse’s computer, whatever you want. Think of it as a more universal approach to technologies like AirPlay, Google Cast, or even a non-geeky approach to DLNA. Pretty much everyone understands Bluetooth, and you don’t need to download a special app or use a special tool to make this puppy work.

Of course, if you’re already a DLNA master and don’t need another gadget, or you’d prefer a Chromecast audio for your in-home streaming needs, you may not need something like this—but even for the money, the convenience, simplicity, and broad cross-platform, cross-device support just can’t be beat.

Bluetooth Audio Adapter | Logitech

http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-980-0…

This DIY Wireless Keylogger Fits Anywhere, Looks Like a Wall Charger

The “KeySweeper” is a tiny, arduino-powered wireless sniffer that captures data sent by your wireless keyboard to its receiver. That’s right—it’s a keylogger, and it doesn’t have to be plugged into your computer to work.

This post is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Sometimes evil is justified, and other times, knowing evil means knowing how to beat it. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page.

http://lifehacker.com/welcome-to-lif…

We should note right up front that not every wireless keyboard is vulnerable to this type of sniffing. Bluetooth keyboards, and newer keyboards that use AES between the keyboard and its paired wireless receiver aren’t susceptible.

Even so, back in January (Yes, I’ve been hanging on to this one for a while now, mostly because it’s perfect for Evil Week!) Samy Kamkar pulled a Microsoft wireless keyboard off the shelf at his local Best Buy, and despite a later statement from Microsoft that a: lots of manufacturers are vulnerable to this and b: their keyboards have been updated not to be, it worked like a charm.

Once the firmware is loaded onto the Arduino, you just jam the whole thing into a hollowed-out wall charger so the Arduino gets power, and wait. You can add a GSM chip to send captured account credentials or keystrokes to your phone wirelessly, or you can add a flash storage chip to the mix and grab the captured data the next time you’re in range of the sniffer. KeySweeper can even send SMS alerts for specific keystrokes, and if someone pulls it out of the wall, it looks like it stops working—but actually it runs on an internal battery that’s recharged the next time it’s plugged back in.

You can check out a walkthrough of the KeySweeper’s capabilities in the video above, or hit the link below for everything you’ll need to make your own, including parts and code. As always, use your powers for good—and for good hacking fun.

KeySweeper | via Ars Technica and Hackaday

Google Releases OnHub Smart Router for $200, With Dedicated App

Today, Google has announced a new Wi-Fi router in partnership with TP-Link. The router, called OnHub, that aim’s to be a smarter way to handle your home network.

The router comes with a few handy features, including automatically optimizing what channel you use based on your needs. You can also set certain devices to get priority speeds, so if you want to make sure your Chromecast doesn’t slow down just because someone else is watching YouTube in another room, you can make give the TV priority.

All of the router’s functions are handled by the Google On companion app. Rather than having to log in to an obscure administrator panel, the mobile app allows you to control the router directly from your phone. You can set up the router, see connected devices, and choose and share passwords right from your phone.

The OnHub router is now on sale from the Google Store. At $200, it’s pricier than your typical home router, but for the convenience and features it offers, it may be worth the price. Particularly if it saves you some calls from confused family members who don’t speak the language of blinking router lights.

OnHub | Google via Android Police

Turn Your Windows 10 Computer Into a Wi-Fi Hotspot

Windows: If you have a Windows computer with a wired internet connection, you may want to share that with other devices. You can do this with a little command line trickery to turn your desktop into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

While technically this has been possible for a while, the process has changed over the years. You can check out the new steps for Windows 10 in the video above from tech blog Techniqued, or follow the steps here:

  1. Press Win+X to open the power user settings menu and choose “Command Prompt (Admin)“.
  2. Enter the following command, replacing the values for SSID and key with the network name and password you want: netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=AdHoc key=password
  3. Run the following command to start the network: netsh wlan start hostednetwork
  4. Search in the Start menu for “View network connections.”
  5. Right-click your main ethernet connection and choose “Properties.”
  6. Under the “Sharing” tab, click the box labeled “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s internet connection.”
  7. In the drop down below the above box, choose the network connection that currently has internet access. Click OK.

At this point, you’ll have a brand new Wi-Fi network that’s connected to your home internet. Keep in mind that this will only work as long as the Windows machine that’s running the network is active. This also isn’t a total replacement for a proper router, but it can get you by in a pinch.

How to Create a Wi-Fi Hotspot in Windows 10

Most Popular Outdoor Speakers: Klipsch AW-500

Most Popular Outdoor Speakers: Klipsch AW-500

A little music in the backyard while you fire up the grill or have friends over doesn’t have to be a difficult—or terribly expensive proposition. Last week we asked you for your favorite ways to do it, then looked at the five best outdoor speakers based on those nominations. Now we’re back to crown the community favorite.

Most Popular Outdoor Speakers: Klipsch AW-500

All-weather, relatively affordable, and easy to mount, the Klipsch AW-500 were some of the most powerful speakers in the roundup, but also some of the most reliably all-weather and easy to mount on the side of your house or on another wall or fixture. They took the top spot with 30% of the overall vote.

Of course, that means none of the top five were clear stand-out favorites, all splitting the vote somewhat. Second place went to the higher-end Polk Atrium4 outdoor speakers, with their great looks and rugged design, with 21% of the votes cast. Third place and just shy of 20% of the overall vote went to the Yamaha NS-AW350W outdoor speakers, offering big sound in an affordable, weather-resistant package. The Tic GS3 Pro Outdoor Omni Speakers took fourth place with just under 15% of the overall vote, and bringing up the rear were the JBL Control 25 series with 14% of the votes cast.

For more on each of these and the honorable mentions not listed here, make sure to head back to our full Hive Five feature to read more.

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Warm weather means it’s a great time to get outside, fire up the grill, have friends over, and maybe listen to some music while everyone hangs out outside. To do that though, you’ll need some solid outdoor, weather-resistant speakers. This week, we’re looking at five of the best, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week we asked you for the best outdoor speakers, whether they’re portable models that can deal with the elements but still need to come inside from time to time, or permanent speakers you mount on your house or leave in the backyard that can take a beating year-round. You offered up tons of great options, but here are the five that rose above the crowd, in no particular order:

Tic GS3 Pro Outdoor Omni Speaker

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Tic’s GS3 Pro Outdoor Omni Speakers won’t win any beauty contests—in fact they’re essentially large green upside-down cups that you bury half-into the ground (or leave above ground, whichever you prefer!), wire up to a sound system (using weather-friendly wiring and wire sheathing of course), and leave alone. They sound great and are weatherproof, meaning you don’t have to pull them up out of the ground when the winter sets in or they’re covered in snow, and you don’t have to care if the spring rain keeps them wet. They offer full 360-degree sound, so you don’t need to position them in any particular direction. The green is actually on purpose—aside from blending in nicely with shrubbery or other garden periphery, they’re designed to be low-profile and offer great, all-direction sound in your yard or garden without being obvious about where that sound is coming from. There are varying models available depending on the size and the power of the speakers you want, but these particular ones will set you back $80 each at Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the GS3 Omnis pointed out that they fit in well in your garden behind some shrubs or around the yard, sound great, and of course, don’t cost a ton of money like wireless or Bluetooth models would. A few of you also chimed in noting that these speakers have survived harsh winters and rainy spring and summers without blinking, and still sound great, and that many of you have two or four in your yards. You can read more in the nomination thread here.


JBL Control 25

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

If you’re looking for a pair of speakers that’ll survive the elements but still look good mounted in your backyard or on the side of your home, JBL’s Control 25 series will do the trick. They’re directional, so you’ll need more than one, but they come in pairs, come with mounting hardware, and sound great once they’re connected to a music source. These are also wired speakers, so you’ll need to run speaker cable to them from another audio source—and make sure they’re connected via weatherproof cables and connectors. They come in black and white, sound great, and aren’t so obtrusive that they look awkward either mounted on a wall or on small stands in your backyard or on the back of your home. They’ll set you back $270 for a pair at Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the Control 25 series noted that it’s nice that you can get them in either black or white, and also praised their sound. You did mention that where the speaker wires connect to them is a spring-loaded connector, so it’s important to either keep that protected from the elements with weather-proof connectors, or to mount the speakers under an overhang or keep them protected. Some of JBL’s more expensive models have a canopy or protective cover built-in. You also noted that while they can stand up to some punishment, you should try to keep them in as good condition as possible, since direct sunlight will reduce their life, as will excessive rain or water. All that aside though, they sound amazing for the price, can put up with most weather without worry, and are affordable. Read more in the nomination thread here.


Yamaha NS-AW350W High Performance Outdoor 2-Way Speakers

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Yamaha’s NS-AW350 outdoor speakers are designed to be all-weather, space-saving, wall or fence-mounted, and powerful enough to sound out a small outdoor space well. It’s a bookshelf-style speaker, and includes the mounting hardware required to attach it to a wall or any other fixture. They’re wired speakers, so the standard warnings apply there, and while they’re not the most powerful speakers in the roundup, they are capable of projecting great sound, are made to handle all sorts of weather, and are rugged enough to handle occasional wind and rain, heat, and extreme cold. Yamaha does suggest you bring them in during the worst of the cold weather months, and that they shouldn’t be exposed to constant bad weather (eg, the deck of a boat or anything), but for most people, mounting them under an overhang or on a patio should be just fine. A pair of them will set you back $95 for a pair at Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the Yamahas noted that they stand up even to Boston winters, are pretty affordable, and stand up to the weather well. They’re perfect for indoor or outdoor use, and they’re well loved and well reviewed in a number of places, including over at Amazon. One of you said you keep them under permanent patio cover just to make sure you get the most possible life out of them, and another person noted that you use them in classrooms because they sound great for the money. You can read more in their nomination thread here.


Polk Atrium4

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Polk’s Atrium4 indoor/outdoor speakers are a good-looking, weather-resistant, and great-sounding pair that are built rugged to survive life outside in all seasons. They’re built to exceed MIL-STD-810 ruggedness standards, which means they can put up with reasonable punishment all-year round. The Atrium4s include their mounting hardware, which is designed to be easy to mount and dismount with one hand, in case you want to take the speakers somewhere else. The brackets and grille are both aluminum, and designed to resist wear and never rust, and have stainless steel and brass hardware. They’re available in white or black, are wired, and like with many of the others here, you’ll need to bring your own amp to the party—a party that should be able to stretch to the back of your yard or garden thanks to how loud these speakers can get without sounding distorted and muffled. You can pick up a pair for $100 from Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the Atrium4s pointed out that they offer Polk sound and quality for a remarkably good price, and often go on sale for even less than the hundred bucks they are right now. You praised them for being able to power an outdoor party at high volumes or sound great at low, private, quiet volumes both without distortion, and for their rugged build quality. One of you pointed that you had a pair of these wired to an AirPlay receiver inside, so you can control the tunes from your iPhone while you man the grill. That’s the life right there. You can read more in their nomination thread here.


Klipsch AW-500 Outdoor Speakers

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Klipsch’s AW-500 outdoor speakers have technically been discontinued, but that doesn’t mean they’re not widely available, and they’re not an excellent option if you need speakers that can sound out your backyard when you have a large gathering, or play some quiet tunes in the background when you have a small one. They’re built rugged, and have their mounting bracket attached to the back of the speaker so they’re easy to install or remove and move inside if you’d like, and have a built-in recession to connect your speaker cables so they aren’t exposed to the elements. Their sealed ABS enclosure isn’t as shiny or premier-looking as other models, but they’ll stand up to year-round, all-weather punishment mounted to the side of your house or on any other fixture in your yard or garden, and they’ll sound great all year long. They’re also some of the most powerful in the roundup, and use binding posts for secure audio connections. You can snag a pair at Amazon for $280.

Those of you who nominated them praised the Klipsch models for being remarkably powerful and more than capable of handling whatever weather your region throws at them. Again, you noted that they’re a traditional speaker install, which requires an amp (like all of the others in the roundup here), and they’re not wireless or anything, but for the money you get superior sounding speakers that you don’t have to clean off or move around when it looks like rain or snow. You also praised them for their 90-degree to 90-degree coverage, meaning you get great sound over a wide area with only a few speakers. You can read more in their nomination thread here.


Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to a vote to determine the community favorite:


Honorable Mentions

This week’s honorable mention goes out to the Bowers & Wilkins AM-1 Outdoor Speakers, designed to look sharp in both black and white, be easily mountable on the side of your home, and offer superior sound—everything you would expect from a Bowers & Wilkins set of speakers. This is a premium set, too, and they look it. They have an aluminum, rust-free grille whether you get them in black or white, and the body is made of rugged plastic. If you want a pair, you can pick them up from Best Buy for $600.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com!

Title photo by NaturalSound.ca.

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Warm weather means it’s a great time to get outside, fire up the grill, have friends over, and maybe listen to some music while everyone hangs out outside. To do that though, you’ll need some solid outdoor, weather-resistant speakers. This week, we’re looking at five of the best, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week we asked you for the best outdoor speakers, whether they’re portable models that can deal with the elements but still need to come inside from time to time, or permanent speakers you mount on your house or leave in the backyard that can take a beating year-round. You offered up tons of great options, but here are the five that rose above the crowd, in no particular order:

Tic GS3 Pro Outdoor Omni Speaker

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Tic’s GS3 Pro Outdoor Omni Speakers won’t win any beauty contests—in fact they’re essentially large green upside-down cups that you bury half-into the ground (or leave above ground, whichever you prefer!), wire up to a sound system (using weather-friendly wiring and wire sheathing of course), and leave alone. They sound great and are weatherproof, meaning you don’t have to pull them up out of the ground when the winter sets in or they’re covered in snow, and you don’t have to care if the spring rain keeps them wet. They offer full 360-degree sound, so you don’t need to position them in any particular direction. The green is actually on purpose—aside from blending in nicely with shrubbery or other garden periphery, they’re designed to be low-profile and offer great, all-direction sound in your yard or garden without being obvious about where that sound is coming from. There are varying models available depending on the size and the power of the speakers you want, but these particular ones will set you back $80 each at Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the GS3 Omnis pointed out that they fit in well in your garden behind some shrubs or around the yard, sound great, and of course, don’t cost a ton of money like wireless or Bluetooth models would. A few of you also chimed in noting that these speakers have survived harsh winters and rainy spring and summers without blinking, and still sound great, and that many of you have two or four in your yards. You can read more in the nomination thread here.


JBL Control 25

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

If you’re looking for a pair of speakers that’ll survive the elements but still look good mounted in your backyard or on the side of your home, JBL’s Control 25 series will do the trick. They’re directional, so you’ll need more than one, but they come in pairs, come with mounting hardware, and sound great once they’re connected to a music source. These are also wired speakers, so you’ll need to run speaker cable to them from another audio source—and make sure they’re connected via weatherproof cables and connectors. They come in black and white, sound great, and aren’t so obtrusive that they look awkward either mounted on a wall or on small stands in your backyard or on the back of your home. They’ll set you back $270 for a pair at Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the Control 25 series noted that it’s nice that you can get them in either black or white, and also praised their sound. You did mention that where the speaker wires connect to them is a spring-loaded connector, so it’s important to either keep that protected from the elements with weather-proof connectors, or to mount the speakers under an overhang or keep them protected. Some of JBL’s more expensive models have a canopy or protective cover built-in. You also noted that while they can stand up to some punishment, you should try to keep them in as good condition as possible, since direct sunlight will reduce their life, as will excessive rain or water. All that aside though, they sound amazing for the price, can put up with most weather without worry, and are affordable. Read more in the nomination thread here.


Yamaha NS-AW350W High Performance Outdoor 2-Way Speakers

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Yamaha’s NS-AW350 outdoor speakers are designed to be all-weather, space-saving, wall or fence-mounted, and powerful enough to sound out a small outdoor space well. It’s a bookshelf-style speaker, and includes the mounting hardware required to attach it to a wall or any other fixture. They’re wired speakers, so the standard warnings apply there, and while they’re not the most powerful speakers in the roundup, they are capable of projecting great sound, are made to handle all sorts of weather, and are rugged enough to handle occasional wind and rain, heat, and extreme cold. Yamaha does suggest you bring them in during the worst of the cold weather months, and that they shouldn’t be exposed to constant bad weather (eg, the deck of a boat or anything), but for most people, mounting them under an overhang or on a patio should be just fine. A pair of them will set you back $95 for a pair at Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the Yamahas noted that they stand up even to Boston winters, are pretty affordable, and stand up to the weather well. They’re perfect for indoor or outdoor use, and they’re well loved and well reviewed in a number of places, including over at Amazon. One of you said you keep them under permanent patio cover just to make sure you get the most possible life out of them, and another person noted that you use them in classrooms because they sound great for the money. You can read more in their nomination thread here.


Polk Atrium4

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Polk’s Atrium4 indoor/outdoor speakers are a good-looking, weather-resistant, and great-sounding pair that are built rugged to survive life outside in all seasons. They’re built to exceed MIL-STD-810 ruggedness standards, which means they can put up with reasonable punishment all-year round. The Atrium4s include their mounting hardware, which is designed to be easy to mount and dismount with one hand, in case you want to take the speakers somewhere else. The brackets and grille are both aluminum, and designed to resist wear and never rust, and have stainless steel and brass hardware. They’re available in white or black, are wired, and like with many of the others here, you’ll need to bring your own amp to the party—a party that should be able to stretch to the back of your yard or garden thanks to how loud these speakers can get without sounding distorted and muffled. You can pick up a pair for $100 from Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the Atrium4s pointed out that they offer Polk sound and quality for a remarkably good price, and often go on sale for even less than the hundred bucks they are right now. You praised them for being able to power an outdoor party at high volumes or sound great at low, private, quiet volumes both without distortion, and for their rugged build quality. One of you pointed that you had a pair of these wired to an AirPlay receiver inside, so you can control the tunes from your iPhone while you man the grill. That’s the life right there. You can read more in their nomination thread here.


Klipsch AW-500 Outdoor Speakers

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Klipsch’s AW-500 outdoor speakers have technically been discontinued, but that doesn’t mean they’re not widely available, and they’re not an excellent option if you need speakers that can sound out your backyard when you have a large gathering, or play some quiet tunes in the background when you have a small one. They’re built rugged, and have their mounting bracket attached to the back of the speaker so they’re easy to install or remove and move inside if you’d like, and have a built-in recession to connect your speaker cables so they aren’t exposed to the elements. Their sealed ABS enclosure isn’t as shiny or premier-looking as other models, but they’ll stand up to year-round, all-weather punishment mounted to the side of your house or on any other fixture in your yard or garden, and they’ll sound great all year long. They’re also some of the most powerful in the roundup, and use binding posts for secure audio connections. You can snag a pair at Amazon for $280.

Those of you who nominated them praised the Klipsch models for being remarkably powerful and more than capable of handling whatever weather your region throws at them. Again, you noted that they’re a traditional speaker install, which requires an amp (like all of the others in the roundup here), and they’re not wireless or anything, but for the money you get superior sounding speakers that you don’t have to clean off or move around when it looks like rain or snow. You also praised them for their 90-degree to 90-degree coverage, meaning you get great sound over a wide area with only a few speakers. You can read more in their nomination thread here.


Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to a vote to determine the community favorite:


Honorable Mentions

This week’s honorable mention goes out to the Bowers & Wilkins AM-1 Outdoor Speakers, designed to look sharp in both black and white, be easily mountable on the side of your home, and offer superior sound—everything you would expect from a Bowers & Wilkins set of speakers. This is a premium set, too, and they look it. They have an aluminum, rust-free grille whether you get them in black or white, and the body is made of rugged plastic. If you want a pair, you can pick them up from Best Buy for $600.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com!

Title photo by NaturalSound.ca.

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Warm weather means it’s a great time to get outside, fire up the grill, have friends over, and maybe listen to some music while everyone hangs out outside. To do that though, you’ll need some solid outdoor, weather-resistant speakers. This week, we’re looking at five of the best, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week we asked you for the best outdoor speakers, whether they’re portable models that can deal with the elements but still need to come inside from time to time, or permanent speakers you mount on your house or leave in the backyard that can take a beating year-round. You offered up tons of great options, but here are the five that rose above the crowd, in no particular order:

Tic GS3 Pro Outdoor Omni Speaker

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Tic’s GS3 Pro Outdoor Omni Speakers won’t win any beauty contests—in fact they’re essentially large green upside-down cups that you bury half-into the ground (or leave above ground, whichever you prefer!), wire up to a sound system (using weather-friendly wiring and wire sheathing of course), and leave alone. They sound great and are weatherproof, meaning you don’t have to pull them up out of the ground when the winter sets in or they’re covered in snow, and you don’t have to care if the spring rain keeps them wet. They offer full 360-degree sound, so you don’t need to position them in any particular direction. The green is actually on purpose—aside from blending in nicely with shrubbery or other garden periphery, they’re designed to be low-profile and offer great, all-direction sound in your yard or garden without being obvious about where that sound is coming from. There are varying models available depending on the size and the power of the speakers you want, but these particular ones will set you back $80 each at Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the GS3 Omnis pointed out that they fit in well in your garden behind some shrubs or around the yard, sound great, and of course, don’t cost a ton of money like wireless or Bluetooth models would. A few of you also chimed in noting that these speakers have survived harsh winters and rainy spring and summers without blinking, and still sound great, and that many of you have two or four in your yards. You can read more in the nomination thread here.


JBL Control 25

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

If you’re looking for a pair of speakers that’ll survive the elements but still look good mounted in your backyard or on the side of your home, JBL’s Control 25 series will do the trick. They’re directional, so you’ll need more than one, but they come in pairs, come with mounting hardware, and sound great once they’re connected to a music source. These are also wired speakers, so you’ll need to run speaker cable to them from another audio source—and make sure they’re connected via weatherproof cables and connectors. They come in black and white, sound great, and aren’t so obtrusive that they look awkward either mounted on a wall or on small stands in your backyard or on the back of your home. They’ll set you back $270 for a pair at Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the Control 25 series noted that it’s nice that you can get them in either black or white, and also praised their sound. You did mention that where the speaker wires connect to them is a spring-loaded connector, so it’s important to either keep that protected from the elements with weather-proof connectors, or to mount the speakers under an overhang or keep them protected. Some of JBL’s more expensive models have a canopy or protective cover built-in. You also noted that while they can stand up to some punishment, you should try to keep them in as good condition as possible, since direct sunlight will reduce their life, as will excessive rain or water. All that aside though, they sound amazing for the price, can put up with most weather without worry, and are affordable. Read more in the nomination thread here.


Yamaha NS-AW350W High Performance Outdoor 2-Way Speakers

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Yamaha’s NS-AW350 outdoor speakers are designed to be all-weather, space-saving, wall or fence-mounted, and powerful enough to sound out a small outdoor space well. It’s a bookshelf-style speaker, and includes the mounting hardware required to attach it to a wall or any other fixture. They’re wired speakers, so the standard warnings apply there, and while they’re not the most powerful speakers in the roundup, they are capable of projecting great sound, are made to handle all sorts of weather, and are rugged enough to handle occasional wind and rain, heat, and extreme cold. Yamaha does suggest you bring them in during the worst of the cold weather months, and that they shouldn’t be exposed to constant bad weather (eg, the deck of a boat or anything), but for most people, mounting them under an overhang or on a patio should be just fine. A pair of them will set you back $95 for a pair at Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the Yamahas noted that they stand up even to Boston winters, are pretty affordable, and stand up to the weather well. They’re perfect for indoor or outdoor use, and they’re well loved and well reviewed in a number of places, including over at Amazon. One of you said you keep them under permanent patio cover just to make sure you get the most possible life out of them, and another person noted that you use them in classrooms because they sound great for the money. You can read more in their nomination thread here.


Polk Atrium4

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Polk’s Atrium4 indoor/outdoor speakers are a good-looking, weather-resistant, and great-sounding pair that are built rugged to survive life outside in all seasons. They’re built to exceed MIL-STD-810 ruggedness standards, which means they can put up with reasonable punishment all-year round. The Atrium4s include their mounting hardware, which is designed to be easy to mount and dismount with one hand, in case you want to take the speakers somewhere else. The brackets and grille are both aluminum, and designed to resist wear and never rust, and have stainless steel and brass hardware. They’re available in white or black, are wired, and like with many of the others here, you’ll need to bring your own amp to the party—a party that should be able to stretch to the back of your yard or garden thanks to how loud these speakers can get without sounding distorted and muffled. You can pick up a pair for $100 from Amazon.

Those of you who nominated the Atrium4s pointed out that they offer Polk sound and quality for a remarkably good price, and often go on sale for even less than the hundred bucks they are right now. You praised them for being able to power an outdoor party at high volumes or sound great at low, private, quiet volumes both without distortion, and for their rugged build quality. One of you pointed that you had a pair of these wired to an AirPlay receiver inside, so you can control the tunes from your iPhone while you man the grill. That’s the life right there. You can read more in their nomination thread here.


Klipsch AW-500 Outdoor Speakers

Five Best Outdoor Speakers

Klipsch’s AW-500 outdoor speakers have technically been discontinued, but that doesn’t mean they’re not widely available, and they’re not an excellent option if you need speakers that can sound out your backyard when you have a large gathering, or play some quiet tunes in the background when you have a small one. They’re built rugged, and have their mounting bracket attached to the back of the speaker so they’re easy to install or remove and move inside if you’d like, and have a built-in recession to connect your speaker cables so they aren’t exposed to the elements. Their sealed ABS enclosure isn’t as shiny or premier-looking as other models, but they’ll stand up to year-round, all-weather punishment mounted to the side of your house or on any other fixture in your yard or garden, and they’ll sound great all year long. They’re also some of the most powerful in the roundup, and use binding posts for secure audio connections. You can snag a pair at Amazon for $280.

Those of you who nominated them praised the Klipsch models for being remarkably powerful and more than capable of handling whatever weather your region throws at them. Again, you noted that they’re a traditional speaker install, which requires an amp (like all of the others in the roundup here), and they’re not wireless or anything, but for the money you get superior sounding speakers that you don’t have to clean off or move around when it looks like rain or snow. You also praised them for their 90-degree to 90-degree coverage, meaning you get great sound over a wide area with only a few speakers. You can read more in their nomination thread here.


Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to a vote to determine the community favorite:


Honorable Mentions

This week’s honorable mention goes out to the Bowers & Wilkins AM-1 Outdoor Speakers, designed to look sharp in both black and white, be easily mountable on the side of your home, and offer superior sound—everything you would expect from a Bowers & Wilkins set of speakers. This is a premium set, too, and they look it. They have an aluminum, rust-free grille whether you get them in black or white, and the body is made of rugged plastic. If you want a pair, you can pick them up from Best Buy for $600.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com!

Title photo by NaturalSound.ca.

WiFi Map is a Crowdsourced List of Routers and Passwords

WiFi Map is a Crowdsourced List of Routers and Passwords

iOS/Android: If Maslow were to revise his hierarchy, Wi-Fi would be down there by the base, right between psychological and safety needs. For those of you thirstier for Wi-Fi than you are for water, WiFi Map is an app that shows over 2.1 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world.

When you first open the app, WiFi Map asks for permission to access your location. It definitely lives up to its claim—it’s likely you’ll find places with either open or password protected Wi-Fi access that you pass by everyday. (I sure did!)

However, the free version only shows the Wi-Fi hotspots within 1.2 miles of your immediate or searched. There were still over a dozen locations for my immediate location (and four or five for a searched one), so I’m not complaining. At the time of writing, if you copy and paste an address into search, you should be able to access the location’s WiFi Map listings. The paid version, available through in-app upgrade, allows for a greater set of listings and for you to save maps and access them offline.

Nonetheless, the free version will be useful for students or freelancers who are looking for new places to work, or if you’re stuck out of the house and have some time to kill. Remember to stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks.

WiFi Map | via Gigaom
WiFi Map (Free) | iTunes App Store
WiFi Map (Free) | Google Play