GCN LAB REVIEW

SMCWEB-N EZ Connect N Pro

The SMCWEB-N EZ Connect N Pro is a light, small — 7 inches by 6 inches — access point that can be wall-mounted or set on a table or shelf. Its three external antennae only rotate 270 degrees, which limits its adjustability.

The SMCWEB-N does have WPS capability that allows it to connect with other WPS-enabled devices with the press of one button. This can make setup a great deal easier. There is also a switch in the back that would allow someone to use the device as a client adapter.

GCN LAB TEST

SMCWEB-N EZ Connect N Pro

Pros: Four-port LAN switch, Wireless Protected Setup
Cons: 10/100 LAN ports limit throughput considerably

Performance: B
Ease of Use: A
Features: C+
Value: B+
Price: $115 ($89 government)

We were pleased to see that the SMCWEB-N had a four-port LAN switch. Unfortunately, these were only 10/100 ports, making us wonder again why an 802.11n device would ever be made with 10/100 LAN ports. SMC even claimed 300 megabits/sec in big red letters on the product box, knowing full well that most clients will need to connect to the network through the LAN port, which is a 100 megabits/sec bottleneck. The only way one can get full "n-like" speeds out of this access point is to have wireless clients communication directly though the same access point without any communication with the rest of the network, which rarely happens.

The problem with the LAN ports reared its head in our Veriwave tests. We could not achieve a rate higher than 98.7 megabits/sec when sending 1,518-byte packets from a wired client to a wireless one. Of course, speed with more users and WPA2/PSK security turned on dropped negligibly because they were all up against the same ceiling.

In our file transfer tests, the 10/100 Ethernet port of the base computer gave the SMC a more even footing, but it still it delivered a lackluster performance. It came in dead last when downloading at the longer distances, producing 1.35 megabits/sec at 80 feet and a mere 1.13 megabits/sec at 160 feet. It fared better at shorter distances but was still in the bottom half of the pack fairly consistently.

SMC has set the price for the SMCWEB-N EZ Connect N Pro at $115 retail, and only $89 on a government contract. Even though it has its problems, this price is not bad. This could be what you need if you need a quick and easy wireless implementation and still have other 10/100 bottlenecks in your network.

SMC Networks, 800-762-4968, www.smc.com

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