Hold the phone

D-Link AirPlus Xtreme G DWL-2100AP

There were very few times during 2005 when the GCN Lab collected a bunch of new products only to be left with an empty, disappointed feeling. Our review of IEEE 802.11g wireless technology was one of those times.

This was supposed to be the year in which the new 802.11g standard took off, delivering the speed of an 802.11a connection and the distance of an 802.11b link.

But we found that 'g' did not yet stand for great. Of the seven pairs of access points/routers and client radios we tested, not one came close to the promised speed of 54 Mbps. No real surprise there; specs are always de- scribed under optimal, even theoretical conditions. But we were dismayed at how far from advertised these products were. The fastest transfer rate we measured was only 16.3 Mbps.

We were tempted not to give out a Reviewer's Choice award. But we did, with the understanding that our job was to recommend the best of what's out there even if the best wasn't that great. Take the D-Link AirPlus Xtreme G DWL-2100AP for example. It was one of the top wireless APs tested, and in truth worked well out of the box, just not close to rated specifications. We liked it best because it was affordable, easy to set up, and offered reliable transfers at distances up to 80 feet.

The SMC EliteConnect 2552W-G received the second of two Reviewer's Choice awards in our 802.11g review as among the fastest APs we tested across all ranges.

Granted, wireless vendors have had several months to improve on the performance of their 802.11g technology. Many incorporate features that attempt to double throughout, an implicit admission 802.11g needs work. We're starting to hear rumblings about super-APs that have licked miscellaneous heat problems and are able to blast 'g' connections for hundreds of feet and offer very high speeds. We'll be reviewing those products in 2006.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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