Dells Brand of Wireless Networking

By Bruce Brown  |  Posted 2003-02-20 Print this article Print

Dell furthers its entry into a new market segment with the addition of an 802.11b USB adapter and a wireless broadband router to the company's TrueMobile line.

Dell seems to be making itself into both a one-stop and a one-brand computer shop. Besides selling PDAs and printers, the company has stepped into the wireless networking market. Two new house-brand 11-MHz, 802.11b devices are part of this push—the $69 (direct) Dell TrueMobile 1180 Wireless USB Adapter for Desktops and the Dell TrueMobile 1184 Wireless Broadband Router ($129 direct).

Both new products are fine buys—competitive on price, and with performance typical of 802.11b access points and adapters. Like most wireless networking companies, Dell stresses simple installation, and one feature that stands out is the ability you get to create user preference profiles for the adapter so the device can detect and connect to a specific access point automatically. You can also configure the adapter for multiple access points so that you are equally prepared to connect to office, home, and public wireless networks.

The TrueMobile 1184 Wireless Broadband Router combines a four-port 10/100 switch, a cable/DSL router, network address translation capability, and a DHCP server. We would like to see a stateful packet inspection firewall included in this version of the router, though. A typical browser-based configuration utility supports the router via a wired connection or a PC equipped with a wireless adapter.Dell TrueMobile Client Manager

We tested the TrueMobile wireless products with each other and with a variety of 802.11b products from outside vendors. The client card configured easily with the 1184 Wireless Broadband Router and with a D-Link DWL-900AP+ access point and a Microsoft Wireless Base Station. A utility called Client Manager lets you configure the 802.11b adapter to connect automatically with any access point in range, and you can set an order of preference for connection to familiar access points (you can also change settings manually). Another tab in Client Manager lets you opt for automatic connection to nonpreferred access points, the type you might find while roaming in a mall, airport, or business park.

With the Dell router/AP in the middle of two notebook PCs located 39 feet apart, transferring a 50MB set of files took an average of 2 minutes 47 seconds, which compares well with the overall average of 2:50 for previously tested 802.11b wireless setups. When we placed the AP in the middle of our basement test area, we were able to maintain a usable signal throughout our two-story home and up to 30 feet outside the house—a typical connection distance for devices using this technology.

The Dell TrueMobile Wireless products competitive pricing and emphasis on easy configuration makes them a safe choice.

Bruce Brown

Bruce Brown, a PC Magazine Contributing Editor, is a former truck driver, aerobics instructor, high school English teacher, therapist, and adjunct professor (gypsy) in three different fields (Computing, Counseling, and Education) in the graduate departments of three different colleges and universities (Wesleyan University , St. Joseph College, and the University of Hartford). In the fall of 1981 he was bitten by the potentials of personal computing and conspired to leave the legitimacy of academia for a life absorbed in computer stuff. In the fall of 1982 he founded the Connecticut Computer Society and began publishing a newsletter that eventually had a (largely unpaid) circulation of 28,000.

Bruce has been a freelance writer covering personal computing hardware since 1983, the year he co-founded Soft Industries Corp., a computer consulting company, with Alfred Poor (also an ExtremeTech contributor) and Dick Ridington (a Fortune 500 consultant with Creative Realities, Inc., a Boston consulting firm). In 1988 Bruce left Soft Industries to be a full-time freelance writer. He has written for several now defunct publications including Lotus Magazine, PC Computing, PC Sources, and Computer Life as well as Computer Shopper and PC Magazine. In 1990 he and Craig Stinson co-wrote Getting the Most Out of IBM Current, an immediately remaindered work published by Brady Books.

Married to PC Magazine Contributing Editor Marge Brown, Bruce is the father of former PC Magazine Staff Editor Richard Brown (a former and currently thriving freelance writer), Liz Brown (a recent graduate of Colgate University who aspires a career in marketing and public relations), and Peter Brown (who evaluates console gaming systems and games for PC Magazine and various Websites).

Bruce can be contacted at


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