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Wireless Hardware - What Should I Get?
802.11b vs. 802.11g vs. pre 802.11n
This page contains much more than what is stated in page's title. Make sure that you read this page all the way to the End.
Since this page includes info. and frame of references to 802.11b Wireless, some people consider it as "Not Up to Date".
802.11b is still used by people around the world in places that better Hardware is unaffordable.
The 802.11b would be moved as a main frame of reference when the Next Standard (802.11n) would be ratified.
Otherwise most of the info. in this page is valid to the, beginning of 2007.
In general Netgear SuperG (WGR624) and the similar D-Link SuperG (DI-624) offer good deals on sales. (Good deal means that these models are offered for less than $35).
If you use a Wireless connection mainly for Internet surfing and short distance, you should consider one of the above devices.
Otherwise, the BuffaloTech. line of 802.11g Wireless, is our current preferred choice.
BuffaloTech usually releases stable hardware that is compatible with WinXP Windows Zero Configuration. (WZC).
Buffalo's newer 802.11g are WDS out of the box (Wireless - Hardware Configuration Modes), and can do IP reservation within the DHCP range (Static DHCP).
During the 2006/7 Holidays, there are a very good offerings of two Models of Buffalo 802.11g Routers. (WHR-G54S, and WHR-HP-G54S).
The WHR-G54S is a regular Wireless Cable/DSL Router that is sold bellow the $50 mark.
The WHR-HP-G54S is a High Power Wireless Cable/DSL Router, the only High Power that is sold bellow $100.
Both Models can be Flashed DD-WRT 3rd party firmware as the Linksys Routers mentioned bellow. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DD-WRT).
This page explains the differences between the two, WHR-HP-G5S vs.WHR-G54S (Power and Heat Sink differences).
This is a Link to: BuffaloTech Wireless Brand pages.
You like to "Hack" and play around with Hardware?
Get the Linksys WRT54G.
Starting with WRT54G version5, Linksys changed the chipset, and the size of memory, The devices can be flashed with a mini version of the 3rd party firmware (DD-WRT). Mini version, means less features.
If you want the full feature version, find a WRT54G version 1 to 4, or buy the more expensive WRT54L.
What about 802.11n Draft (aka MIMO) see our position here, MIMO
Choosing Wireless Hardware is not an easy task. I would suggest to take few minutes and read the following over view, it includes general info about Entry Level Wireless, Special Speed Modes, Security, and expected Distances.
Currently, Wireless Hardware at the Entry Level Networking is comprise of:
1. 802.11b at 11Mb/sec.
802.11g Wireless Hardware is currently the most sold Wireless Hardware and offers the best price /performance ratio.
6. 802.11 a/b/g Wireless units that are compatible with the three standard. This type of hardware is relatively expensive, if you do not need 802.11a compatibility , Skip It.
7. Specialty Modes above 54Mb/sec..
802.11g Super (108Mb/sec.) -"SuperG". The name used by D-Link & Netgear
802.11g "Speed Booster". The name used by Linksys. (Linksys does not state speed, but it is about 80Mb/sec.).
802.11g "125* High Speed Mode" (125Mb/sec.). The name used by Buffalo Tech.
8. Pre 802.11n - Compatible down with 802.11b/g, uses new technology that might enhance the Wireless Speed x4 or more than 802.11g
Note. Wireless that is capable of performing in enhance 802.11g (over 54Mb/sec.) is depending on specific chipsets. A regular 802.11g can not be upgraded to enhanced 802.11g, and there is No Brand compatibility while using these Modes.
802.11b vs. 802.11g.
For Internet surfing it does mot matter whether you use 802.11b or 802.11g. In most cases Internet Broadband Connection is slower than 802.11b.
However, using 802.11g for the Traffic across the LAN yields significantly faster Network.
Since price is currently a small factor, and 802.11g is more stable and faster than 802.11b, it would be better across the board.
As a frame of reference. The transfer "Speed" of a Good Windows based 100Mb/sec. Network is 70 to 80Mb/sec. (b=bits
The SuperG / Speed Booster / 125* Speed might push it to 30-40Mb/sec.
The next standard of Wireless 802.11n as suppose to emerge late 2005 or early in 2006.
However the Entry Level Brands are starting to release Hardware that is based on this future release.
At the moment (Feb. 2005) there are two releases in the market.
Belkin calls it Pre802.11n
Linksys calls 802.11g with SRX technology.
In both cases the marketing claims are using the Magic number x8.
I.e. 8 times better than 802.11g. This is leading people to believe that if they get now 20Mb/sec they would get 160Mb/sec. Or if their Wireless Network cover a distance of 5o it would cover 400.
Right now the only objective review is available from PC-Magazine
using the Belkin release.
Typical 802.11g at 1 = 22Mb/sec. Pre-N =
The Bandwidth gain at 160 is actually x8.
The rest is no way closer to x 8, more like x2 to x4.
Our current position on buying preN Hardware can be seen here, MIMO
Does 802.11g provides more Distance than 802.11b?
Since the frequency and the output power of 802.11b and 802.11g hardware are similar, the general distance that they cover is
Notice how the D-Link and Netgear Super G Stick above the rest of the Crowd.
Note. If you go with Super G all Wireless units should be of the same Brand.
If you reside in a Dry climate (like Phoenix AZ.) You get better Wireless performance then being 200' from the Humid Atlantic Ocean (which is my bad luck concerning this issue).
Indoors - No obstructions (no walls, or Baroque type furniture), it will go up to 100' -120'
Three walls or more? You never know until you try.
If you are almost there, a good external Antenna
Outdoors - With Entry Level Equipment as it is out of the box. You can cover a little more than 100'
With Direct line of sight. Using High towers, and very good directional Antennae it can work for few miles.
More info and help concerning Wireless issues here:
Link to: Wireless Security for the Home User.
Link to: Extending the Distance of Entry Level Wireless Network.
Link to: Wirelessly Bridging Home / SOHO Network.
Link to: Network segregation - Adding security to Wireless Network (or any peer to peer Network).
Never make assumptions about the performance of Wireless Hardware; it is too much environment depended.
When professionals need to install Wireless Network they first perform a Survey. There is special devices that Transmit and Detect signals similar to those generated by actual Wireless hardware. By using these devices in the actual setting it is possible to determine where to put the Access Points in a given Area in order to maintain the desired Wireless coverage.
Professional Survey might be too expensive for Home/SOHO Users.
My recommendation is to buy the Wireless devices from a reputable Mega Store, carefully unpack it and try it immediately. If it does not cover your distance do not waste your time complaining in Network Forums or News Group. Pack it and Return the stuff.
Most manufactures claim that their Wireless Hardware yield 300 indoor and 1500 outdoor.
They Do not lie, they just Do Not disclose (in the Marketing info.) the circumstances under which this distance was measured.
This practice makes it easy to return since in most circumstances you would get a distance that only a fraction of their claims.
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