Product Type: Linksys in Wireless LAN
Newest Review: ... for linux. WHAT ABOUT VERSIONS? As far as i know there's 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0 versions. There's also "Afterburner" version (it shou... more
Reasonably good product
Linksys Compact Wireless-G Broadband Router WRT54GC
Member Name: davidhprice
Linksys Compact Wireless-G Broadband Router WRT54GC
Date: 08/12/03, updated on 22/02/05 (2335 review reads)
Advantages: fast 54Mbps WLAN, NAT and DHCP, good admin via web browser
Disadvantages: no trobleshooting guide
I could have used the "Internet Connection Sharing" feature in Windows but this would have meant getting a second ethernet adapter on my main machine in the study and leaving it switched on all the time. Instead I decided to get a dedicated Wireless gateway router. These boxes attach to a cable or DSL modem and the rest of the house network sits behind it, connected directly to the small internal hub (usually 4 ports) and via Wireless LAN. The gateway typically supports NAT (Network Address Translation) which makes the network think there is only one device, a Firewall to prevent unwanted intrusion from hackers etc and a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) which assigns IP addresses to PC's dynamically so you don't have to configure each PC for host, proxy and DNS addresses.
Looking at the main manufacturers (Netgear, D-Link, Linksys and Belkin) there is not much to choose on features, it comes down to price and quality. I decided to get a 54G gateway as these can handle both 802.11G and 802.11B devices, the difference is that G operates at 54Mbps while B operates at 11Mbps. This does not mean your internet downloads will go at 54Mbps since most DSL/cable connections only support 10Mbps, however since WLAN throughput decreases with distance a G connection will have a higher speed (eg 3Mbps vs 1Mbps) a couple of rooms from the gateway. On the basis of price I got the Linksys WRT54G unit from Dabs, it looks better to me than the others as well.
With this sort of unit you plug in the mains and the cable/DSL modem then switch on and that's it - well no it isn't, you still have to configure it and the client devices but you use your web browser instead of installing specific software on the PC. This
is a good thing as there is less to go wrong.
The first thing I did was to connect a PC which had an active firewall (I use ZoneAlarm) using one of the wired ports so I could adjust the configuration until the wireless device worked properly.
You configure the WRT54G via a browser specifying the gateway's address, eg http://192.168.1.1 and enter the default password. You are then presented with a wide array of admin options via a tabbed view. The key thing to do were;
1. change the admin user and password
2. Specify the SSID (the gateway's name)
3. Set the gateway up as an access point (infrasturcture network) on one of the channels (1-13)
4. Specify DHCP both for ISP connection and internal PCs, limiting the number (eg to 3) to limit unwelcome visitors
5. Enable the firewall
I checked I could access the internet via the gateway then tried out a PC with a WLAN adapter. Basically this meant installing the adapter and software on trhe other then scanning for the gateway. Once this connection worked I then secured the network as follows;
6. Disabled the SSID broadcast (this prevents other people seeing that you have an active WLAN)
7. Enabled encryption to prevent others "tapping" my network. Since I had a Windows 95 PC I was limited to WEP which I set to use a 128 bit key. You enter a word and the gateway generates a keycode which you then enter on the client PC's so they all use the same key.
8. The gateway enables you to specify the MAC addresses of wireless connected PC's permitted to use the gateway. The MAC address is the unique hardware address of the PC's adaptor and is usually printed on the adapter itself, although there are other ways to find it out (see the manufacturer's documentation). This is a belt & braces measure and makes sure only the listed devices can access the network.
Generally, the gateway works OK and the admin interface
is good. It took a lot of time trying out various settings though before wireless PC and gateway would talk (hard to know where the problem was), but once they did the connection speed was very good considering the signal had to go through an outside wall and a floor. I had no utilities to hand to check what speed the PC was getting but subjectively it ws much faster than a dial up connection.
Sometimes the PC and gateway take some time to sync or not sync at all, sometime this is resolved by switching the gateway off then on again but not always. One thing I have found which increases the chance of things working is to switch the gateway on only after the cable/DL modem has finihed initialising. It would have helped if a troubleshooting guide was included as although the Linksys web-site (www.linksys.com/international) has some info there is no step by step guide to problem solving.
For what it does this is a good product however more help on solving problems would have been useful.
More reviews in the field of Wireless LAN
- Easy to set up and reliable, but a power hog
- Works with sub 400 MHz processors
- Easy to set up and reliable
- It's not the size, it's what I can do with it!!
- Tiny Mini Wireless Router
- Why WiFi?
- Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water
- My gaming connection is secure thanks to this!
- Top tip from TP..Link to your Wi-Fi through the mains powerline.
- Convenient, if not efficient.