D-Link Systems Inc.s five-mode DWL-900AP+ is not just another drably clothed, cheap and effective 802.11b access point. Its also a lot faster than your average drably clothed, cheap and effective 802.11b access point.
According to D-Link, the DWL-900AP+, based on Texas Instruments WLAN chip set, is 20 percent faster than standard 802.11bs stated rate of 11 M bps. TIs Packet Binary Convolutional Coding (PBCC) technology enables this higher transfer rate and might delay the need to migrate from 802.11b to 802.11a or g for faster performance.
The DWL-900AP+s radio "repeater" function increases coverage by adding a second base station without, as is normally required, hard-wiring the units together. Data picked up from an existing network is repeated over the air. Using several units in repeater mode, you could create a "mini-cellular" network with substantial coverage area.
In tests, it couldnt have been easier to get the D-Link system up and running. I connected the unit to a router port and was on the air immediately with a new "default" wireless network. Joining an existing wireless network, or adding refinements such as Ethernet bridging and security, takes a bit more attention.
The unit is browser-configurable: Just type in the supplied IP number and, barring IP conflicts, off you go. Turns out I did run into an IP conflict during testing, but was able to overcome it by using a standard Cat.5 Ethernet cable to address the unit directly and assign a new IP address. Configuration thereafter was straightforward.
One very pleasant surprise was the great range of the DWL-900AP+, exceeding that of my Apple Airport Base station by approximately 30 percent. Furthermore, the accessible antenna connection invites the tinkerers among us to extend range even further.
D-Link offers a free, 24/7 toll-free support number that was accessible and effective during tests. During one peak-time call I waited only 11 minutes for help. An hour later, there was no wait at all. D-Link followed up by e-mailing me a helpful detailed summary of the session.
The list price of the DWL-900AP+ is $129; street price is about $90.
Russ Windman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.