802.11g Wireless Access Point
Let us move on to the 802.11g (54Mbps) Wireless Access Point.
The Access Point and the included accessories were nicely packed in a box with bubble wrap and cradled in foam. Inside the box is the Access Point, power adapter, installation CD-ROM, a quick start guide, Ethernet cable and Cross-over cable. Like the PC Card, this product came bundled with the Actiontec "KidDefender" network monitoring software. The Access point itself was nice, sleek and compact. The antennas on it were not as flimsy as I thought it would be.
On the top of the WAP are three indicator lights (Power, LAN and Wireless Signal):
Behind the WAP is the Power port, a reset button (you have to use a pin or paperclip if you want to reset the Access Point) and the Ethernet port:
Underneath the WAP you will see the clear rubber feet (for setting the WAP on your desk or on a shelf) and a slot for screws to mount it on a wall (though, it did not come with screws for wall mounting):
Here are the specs as displayed on the box:
||10/100 Ethernet LAN|
||Up to 54 Mbps (using 802.11g)|
||Infrastructure Mode: BSS (DCF & PCF)|
BPSK, QPSK, 16QAM, 64QAM, OFDM
||IEEE 802.11b (2.4 GHz - DSSS)|
IEEE 802.11g (2.4 GHz - OFDM)
|Setup & Management
||Power, LAN link, Wireless|
||Operating Temperature: 0 C to 65 C|
Storage Temperature: -20 C to +85 C
Operating Humidity: 95% non-condensing
Storage Humidity: 95% non-condensing
|Minimum System Requirements:|
For setup and configuration:
One Pentium Class PC
Ethernet port and TCP/IP installed
Setting it Up
There were a few "irregularities" on the Quick Start Guide that came with the Wireless Access Point. Sections 1 and 2 were poorly written and somewhat vague. In Section 1, Steps 1 thru 4 were fine, however, from Step 4, it jumped to Step 6 (they either missed a step, or labeled them incorrectly.) And by Steps 7, 8, and 9, the section goes downhill from there mainly because of a misleading photo. Section 3 was fine, except for another missing step. In my humble opinion, they could have scrapped the so-called "Quick-start" guide all together.
In any case, I connected the WAP to my existing network, using it as a bridge (Note: Thanks for the info, Dek!) Please see my crude network diagram below for a better understanding of my WLAN:
After connecting the WAP, I launched a web browser (as explained in Section 3 of the Quick Start guide) and entered the WAP's address (http://192.168.1.240) and lo-and-behold, the Network Password prompt appears:
I could not find the username and password anywhere on the so-called Quick Start guide, so I chucked the guide in the trash, launched the PDF manual (that came with the drivers CD) and a page or two later, I finally found the default username and password. From here, I am happy to report that everything else went smoothly.
The web-based configuration interface was clear and easy to navigate. The factory-settings on the Wireless Access Point were sufficient and little to no-configuration was required after you have physically connected the WAP to your network. The only sections that I would recommend changing are the WLAN's SSID and the WAP's password. Because I had an existing Wireless-G router, I set this access point to look for the same wireless network name, but use a different operating channel.
Below, I changed the administrative username and password for obvious security reasons. As a general rule, you should change the default username/password settings to prevent any unauthorized (or rather, lucky) third-party login attempts.
If Actiontec were seeking suggestions for their web-based configuration, I would most likely request for a "Key Generator" for the Security and Encryption settings page:
Hint, having something like this, on the Security and Encryption Settings page above, would be lovely:
I still have not resolved connecting the PC Card with WEP configured to the access point, but I was able to connect a non-Actiontec wireless network adapter to the WEP-enabled Actiontec wireless access point. Visiting the Actiontec website and downloading the most "recent" drivers did not help resolve this matter, either. Other than that, it would also be nice, as a future product improvement, to have more than one visual indicator light on the PC Card itself. Perhaps, one for "connected" (e.g., the existing indicator light) and another to indicate transfer activity and/or signal strength.
Wireless Access Point
Overall, the Wireless Access Point (after properly connecting it to the network) performed quite good, accepting connections from both 802.11g and 802.11b standards. It definitely helped bridging the signal that was needed in the room that seemed remotely far away from the router. The only time that the signal (slightly) weakened was when I was surfing in the kitchen with the microwave running while using our cordless phone that was on the same 2.4GHz frequency. The web configuration contains all the features you would look for in a Wireless Access Point although it would not hurt to add a "WEP Key Generator". If I were to expand my WLAN, I would definitely use an Wireless Access Point just like this.