• United States
Neal Weinberg
Contributing writer, Foundry

Buffalo WBR-B11/G

Jun 17, 20033 mins
AppleMobileNetwork Security

* 802.11g WLAN gear from Buffalo and Apple

The Buffalo AirStation was the first 802.11g device we received, and we had three revisions of the firmware in three months of testing. The AirStation can be configured through a bundled CD. After installing the utilities, wireless LAN adapter and/or manuals, the device can be configured via browser.

AirStation is a hybrid access point/gateway/router/switch for DSL, cable or an “advanced” setup. The DSL and cable selections worked well, and the advanced setup can be used to move the default IP address to another. But this time, the new address is kept as a link on the page, so that when the access point reboots, the new IP address of the access point can be selected easily. We liked this thoughtfulness because other browser-based applications aren’t that smart. Another handy feature is the autosensing WAN port, which can be connected to a router or hub port – it figures out the difference and adjusts within 3 seconds to the correct electrical wiring needed.

AirStation had nonlinear fallback performance in our walkabout test as it would leap back and forth in speed trying to adjust to increase/decrease signal, and we lost association in 802.11b and 802.11g modes after about 98 feet. An external antenna jack is provided for adding an antenna, but we did not test this feature. The overall performance in both modes was average.

Apple AirPort Extreme AP

AirPort Extreme must be configured from an Apple computer and has no browser interface. We updated the resident AirPort administration software on a PowerBook G4 running OS/X 10.2 from the enclosed CD. AirPort Extreme is a one-port gateway/router; the Administration software found the AirPort Extreme and configured it correctly for the network that we had connected its WAN port to.

We found some subtle limitations. AirPort Extreme limits its DHCP NAT range to a 10 address range – outside of the range we use in our labs. DHCP can be configured to proxy the DHCP connections otherwise. There is no firewall application, although the AirPort Extreme has MAC address filtering available.

AirPort Extreme also contained an optional modem that can dial in to an ISP to effect an Internet connection (to an ISP or AOL specifically), although the AirPort can’t be programmed to fail over to a dialed connection if the WAN connection fails. There’s also a USB port on the AirPort for shared devices such as printers.

One strong upside to the AirPort Extreme is the ability to force clients into using a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) server. While not a full-blown 802.1X authentication framework, this added authentication step is welcome, and worked correctly with our lab’s RADIUS server.

AirPort Extreme had good performance in our speed tests, but the range was slightly below average. An external antenna port is available, which might optionally increase range.

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