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The Great 802.11G+ Hardware Shoot-out,  . . . . . are claims fact or fiction?

Asante - cont'd
In the Systems Preferences panel, you will have to select the AeroLAN-XG card from the Network Port configuration tab and you can then use DHCP or Manual settings for IP addresses. As far as your Mac PowerBook knows, you have an Apple Airport card installed internally. A notable advantage of the Asante FriendlyNET AeroLAN-XG card over and internally installed Apple Extreme G card in a new G4 15-inch PowerBook, is that the range and signal was much better.

All the testing results for the AeroLAN-XG are included in the charts for each wireless router. Like the Linksys and Apple .11G cards, in some cases the AeroLAN-XG would also only connect to some systems at 11Mbps.

D-Link Systems Inc.
DI-624 AirPlus Xtreme G Router $61.99 Street*
DWL-G650 AirPlus Xtreme G PC Card $39.33 Street*
DWL-G520 AirPlus Xtreme G PCI Card $49.99 Street*

( *after rebate)
 
       Click on images for full size or to view product page

D-Link was the first to actually put 802.11G hardware on store shelves, no matter what you hear from Apple PR, Linksys or anyone else. This is an accolade that D-Link well deserves, and it helps in a race to the shelf that you have your own factories.

What we like best about D-Link is the transition that their entire product line has taken in the past year to eighteen months, everything seems to be coming together in D-Links quest for top market share. All the product packaging look better, parts that are supposed to stack actually match and quality is first class.

As with most companies these days, telephone customer tech support has moved “out of house” to a contracted service. Fortunately, D-Link’s isn’t in India, but located right here in Central California and the folks we talked to during our tests were friendly, courteous and did their best to help from the info they are supplied with. They are even equipped and happy to help Mac users, something you likely won’t hear from other network hardware brands.

However, when we ran into a problem after installing a brand new driver update for the DWL-G650 PC Card, causing a refusal to handshake with the router in “G only” mode, the outside tech-support couldn’t help after searching their data base of answers. When they suggested forwarding our call to D-Link’s internal specialists, the phone just rang and rang with no one ever answering.

D-Link has had two recently different versions of the DI-624 Xtreme G Router, a v. B1 (which has two antenna and is huge) and the most recent v. C1 (one antenna and is now smaller and matches other D-Link hardware). We hadn’t intended to test both, but curiosity about the efficiency of dual or single antenna got the best of us; more on this will be in the test results. In our test group, the new D-Link DI-624 v.C1 is the only single antenna unit.

D-Link has the largest product line for network hardware, especially in Wireless devices, we‘ve ever seen. Pay a visit to the D-Link site and rummage around the pages; you’ll soon be dazed and amazed, if not confused by all the different bits ‘n pieces. No matter what you need to solve in a network dilemma, you are sure to find it at D-Link.

Setting up the DI-624 is a breeze using either the supplied Windows CD, or just

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plugging in a computer directly with an Ethernet cable and using the built-in HTML based administration software.

If there is any complaint, it’s that there are a confusing array of settings to choose from. Fortunately, D-Link has included a nifty setup Wizard that will guide the neophyte until you learn the ropes.


           Click image to see all the set-up screen caps.

The D-Link Router tests -
As with the others, we set up the D-Link hardware in the same locations and the same computers in our Tech Lab facility. Any previous drivers for other hardware were removed to eliminate any possibility of interference.

Since the DI-624 Wireless Routers are also capable of a variety of mode operations, we test in both Mixed (.11B or .11G) and in closed .11G “108Mbps Only” mode.

The “Signal Radiation Pattern” or SRP in mixed mode, [click on image below to enlarge] for the DI-624 v. C1 (single antenna) was stronger (~ 66) in front of the unit, a mysterious 10db lower lobe on the right at 45 degrees, but only 5db lower (60) at the sides. When we tested the previous version B1 DI-624 model with twin antenna, our tests showed a nearly perfect uniform “Signal Radiation Pattern” or SRP in “Mixed” and “108Mbps Only” modes.

We also recorded a bigger drop in signal strength when 108Mbps Only mode was turned on in the new DI-624 v. C1, than the older v. B1 model, although the difference wasn’t that much.

If you review the two sets of charts which follows, you’ll notice that the DI-624 (v. B1 and v. C1) had the some of the lowest signal strengths recorded of the all routers at various distances with its own .11G PC Cards. We were very surprised to see that .11B and .11g PC Cards from most of the other brands (and chip-sets) recorded better signal strengths and distances than the D-Link DWL-G650 did. Only the internal Apple Extreme G card in the 2004 Apple G4 PowerBook did worse and we’d chalk that up to the poor internal antenna design in the PowerBook.


      D-link DI-624 running in 54Mbps Mixed Mode chart

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