Wi-Fi is great for networking a building without having to drill through walls, but the reach of an 802.11g setup can drop drastically once you put some concrete between your PC and the router.
The IEEE, which established the standards for 802.11b and 802.11g, is still in the process of defining 802.11n, which is designed to increase range, and could solve this problem. In the meantime, manufacturers have delivered products using 802.11n's MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology, which use a number of transmitters and receivers to boost coverage. These are often known as Pre-N systems.
Trendnet's TEW-611BRP includes MIMO technology although, as with any proprietary standard, it works only with the company's compatible kit. So if you want to take advantage of increased range, you'll need to splash out on a PC Card (the TEW-601PC, costing around £45) for a laptop or PCI adapter (the TEW-603PI, costing around £51) for a desktop PC. The router on its own costs £76.50 including VAT, and the cards.
In testing, the range compared favourably with that of a standard 802.11g network, but the increase was only about 30 percent.
The router will happily accommodate existing Wi-Fi clients, so you can mix and match between proprietary and standard devices on the same network.
The Trendnet supports all the features you'd expect to find on a wireless router, from DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol) to WPA (wireless protected access) security.
Installation is relatively pain-free, with wizards available to take you through the basic options for setting up an internet connection and wireless security to prevent unauthorised use of your wireless network. The latter is a particularly welcome addition.
Trendnet's router is simple enough to set up and is positively packed with features. However, as with any proprietary solution, you'll need to buy a compatible PC Card or PCI adapter to take full advantage of it. For the money, we would have expected a greater range boost, too.