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Wireless on a Budget

D-Link's Budget Offerings

by Josh Walrath

 

            Some years ago wireless first appeared on the scene with a lot of promise.  Unfortunately that promise was short lived as problems with interference, range, and overall speed hampered the introduction of affordable home wireless networking.  The situation today is quite improved though, and what was a high end wireless selection just a year ago is now the budget level product.  DLink has always been on the scene with solid wireless products, and at their release the AirPlus products promised performance at the 22 Mega-bit per second level, with further planned advances to implement the 4X technology (better I/O transactions).

            So, while the idea of 88 Mbps was fairly far fetched, any increase in performance over the 11 Mbps mark is welcome.  DLink also packed their products with extra features that would impress nearly any consumer.  Today I am looking at the AirPlus selection of products that, while no longer sold directly from DLink, can still be found on the market at budget prices.

 

The Wireless Home

            This statement has been well overused, but its philosophy still remains the same.  D-Link designed their products to give a lot of flexibility to the consumer, no matter where and how they lived.  This flexibility involves range, security, and accessibility.  The AirPlus series were designed to feature a great amount of interchangeability with a wide variety of products, both from D-Link and from other manufacturers.

            The first advanced feature is that it runs at twice the speed as other 802.11b products.  D-Link advertises this product to run at 22 Mbps, when in use with other AirPlus products.  This is double the theoretical bandwidth, and with 4X enabled it has four times the I/O transactions.  This extra performance is supposed to provide a significant boost for any wireless network.  While it may not approach 802.11G type speeds, it should still hold its own very well.

            The second major advance is that of increasing the wireless range by including a repeating function to the DWL-900AP+/DWL-800AP+ products.  To enable this function the user needs to log into the Access Point and set it to repeating mode.  This only works with other AirPlus products, but it can more than double the effective wireless range.  In large houses, or places with thick walls, this can prove to be a lifesaver!  The user just needs to take their laptop and find the very edge of their wireless range (when the signal goes to “Poor”).  Simply place the AP near that spot and plug it in, and it will act as a repeater for your network.

            The final major advance is that D-Link has made the product standard enough to interact with a majority of 3rd party products.  In testing I have been able to get the wireless network to work flawlessly with products from 3Com, Broadcom, Cisco, and others.  Also, now that products such as the X-Box and PS-2 have internet capabilities, being able to wirelessly attach these products to the home network and the internet provides a great deal of flexibility for the home user.  There is nothing more annoying that having to drag a long piece of CAT-5E cable throughout the house to plug into a console!

 

Next: The Products