It won't be too long before the next generation Wi-Fi standard, 802.11n, is ratified. It promises at least four to five times the speed of the current 54 Mbit/s 802.11g standard and a vastly improved range. But if you can't wait a year or so, you could try US Robotics' latest 802.11g range, with its own final tweak on the 802.11g standard: MAXg.
MAXg is based on Broadcom's BroadRange technology, which Broadcom claims has the industry's best 'receive sensitivity', enabling Wi-Fi users to maintain high-speed wireless connections up to 50 percent further from an access point. US Robotics also claims MAXg provides 40 percent faster throughput, with a maximum speed of 125 Mbit/s. This won't give you the 1,500-feet coverage of Pre-N'/Mimo (Multiple Input Multiple Output) but should get free air coverage up to 600 feet.
The technology is compatible with 54g kit, but you'll need MAXg hardware at both ends to get the full benefit. The range comprises a router, an access point plus CardBus, PCI and USB 2.0 client adapters. It all supports WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and WPA2.0 security standards, 802.1X authentication and 64/128bit WEP encryption.
The US Robotics 5461 router is bang up to date. As well as employing the by-now standard four-port 10/100Mbps Ethernet switch, plus SPI (stateful packet inspection) firewall, it employs a much-improved version of hardware-based AES encryption over the WPA2.0 802.11i standard. Passthrough VPN (up to 25 pipelines), older WPA and WEP standards, and 802.1X authentication for enterprise users are also supported. Multimedia support is good, and the router can act as a print server via the rear-mounted USB port.
- 4-port 10/100Mbps switch
- 802.11g/125Mbps Wi-Fi access point
- print server SPI firewallWPA2.0 support
While US Robotics's MAXg technology works well and has a full feature set, in practice it's a touch disappointing. It's only £10-£15 cheaper than its Pre-N rivals, which provide the range and throughput that MAXg promises but doesn't quite deliver.