- By Carlos A. Soto
- Jul 09, 2003
Quick look: Wireless base station
If you operate mostly in a Microsoft Windows XP environment and want to use wireless connections in your network, Microsoft Corp. offers an option.
The company's new wireless base station, MN-500, installs easily to any PC particularly if it's running XP Pro or Home edition.
It works in conjunction with Microsoft wireless PC Cards, Universal Serial Bus adapters and IEEE 802.11b connections.
Although our office is notorious for swallowing 802.11 signals in its walls and carpeting, we were able to surf the Web wirelessly with a notebook PC as far as 100 feet from the base station.
The main benefit of using the Microsoft base station in a Windows XP platform is the 802.11 standard, which automatically changes the user's Wired Equivalent Privacy protocol key every 15 minutes.
The base station also has the ability to not broadcast the service set identifier, which represents the identity of the base station, so that people with wireless receivers won't automatically be able to see your wireless network.
A small form factor is another plus.
Unfortunately, Microsoft left out two details that would greatly improve the base station.
Measuring only 1.2-by-5.3-by-6.8 inches, the MN-500 should have a wall-mounting feature.
It also lacks Power over Ethernet, a technology that lets electrical current travel through an Ethernet cable, rather than a regular power line. This is an important feature, because it expands the possible locations for the unit.
But despite these shortcomings you can't beat the $79 price tag, which places the MN-500 ahead of the pack. Price: $79