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Wireless Reviews

Introduction

D-Link AirPlus Enhanced 2.4GHz Wireless Access Point

D-Link AirPlus Enhanced 2.4GHz Wireless Access Point (DWL-900AP+)
Summary TI-based 802.11b access point with' 22Mbps' mode when used with other AirPlus products.
Has bridging and wireless repeating features & can act as an Ethernet client adapter. No WEP enabled throughput penalty, best case speed only about 7Mbps.
Update 10/11/2002 Wireless Repeating function added in 2.20 firmware. See the related NTK.
Pros • Web browser administration with lots of features
• Multiple bridging modes
• Good performance with no WEP enabled throughput degradation
• Can use other antennas
• 2.20 firmware addes wireless Repeating!
Cons • You won't get 22Mbps

The D-Link AirPlus product line represents a major move by D-Link away from Intersil and toward Texas Instruments (TI) as a wireless chip technology supplier. It also represents a vote for TI's Packet Binary Convolutional Coding (PBCC) modulation method, and the enhanced performance it allegedly brings to 2.4GHz wireless networking.

Since D-Link's product packaging prominently displays claims of "Up to 20% faster" and "Up to 22Mbps with AirPlus Products", I had to see if they had found a way around my Rule of Wireless Networking #1. Although I wasn't surprised by the results of my performance testing, there's still plenty to like about what D-Link's done in their AirPlus family...

Basic Features

The DWL-900AP+ AirPlus Wireless Access Point was smaller than I'd expected from seeing the product pictures - about the size of a stack of three CD "jewel cases" - and should be easy to find a place for. The silver plastic case has Power, LAN, and WLAN LEDs on the front panel, which are viewable from a wide range of top and front angles and operate as you'd expect them to. The rear panel has a hardware reset-to-factory-defaults switch, power connector, 10BaseT RJ45 jack, and reverse-SMA antenna connector. There are screw-head slots on the bottom so that you could wall or ceiling mount the unit, too.

The supplied single dipole antenna is jointed so that it can swivel 360 degrees and lock in 45 and 90 degree positions, so you should be able to orient the antenna as desired, no matter how you position or mount the box. D-Link has a line of optional antennas, all of which are supplied with matching reverse SMA connectors or pigtail adapters that allow them to mate with the 900AP+.

In addition to acting as a normal Access Point, the 900AP+ can be used in two bridging modes, or set to operate as an AP client. The only mode missing is wireless repeating, which neither D-Link nor anyone else has provided (yet!) at this price point.

NOTEUpdated 10/11/2002 Wireless Repeating function added in 2.20 firmware. See the related NTK.

Although D-Link doesn't say so, it looks like the 900AP+'s RJ45 connector is wired to support Power Over Ethernet (POE). POE lets the unused wires of standard CAT-5 cable carry power to POE-enabled Ethernet devices, but you need a POE "injector" to get the power into the cable.

That covers the feature set. Let's go see what the setup is like.

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