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Wireless Reviews

Closing Thoughts

My previous review of the Buffalo dual-band nFiniti said to wait until the Wi-Fi certification program is in place and Draft 2.0 compliant products are available. Now that both are here and D-Link has taken the time and spent the money to achieve Wi-Fi Certification, it's time for me to change my tune.

I'm actually going to recommend the DIR-655. Why?

  • At around $125 street, the DIR-655's price premium isn't too exhorbitant.
  • Gigabit Ethernet WAN and LAN ports
  • The routing section is first-rate, with excellent throughput, record-setting simultaneous session handling and Ubicom's automatic QoS on both wired and wireless connections
  • A full range of wireless security options, including both "Personal" and "Enterprise" WPA/WPA2 and ability to handle mixed WPA/WPA2 TKIP/AES clients
  • Good handling of my test case using mixed 11n/ 11g STAs
  • While it doesn't have the highest-available wireless throughput, the DIR-655 / DWA-652 combination has a well-behaved throughput vs. path loss curve operating in both 40 and 20 MHz channel modes out to at least 100 dB of path loss.

But even with all those pluses, I still would not be giving the go-ahead for the 655 if it were not for how it handles legacy neighboring wireless LANs. The 655 is the first draft 11n product that I've seen that appears to implement the do-no-harm approach incorporated into Draft 2.0.

While its fallback to 20 MHz channel operation appears to be only dynamic, i.e. while the neighboring WLAN is actually on-air, the 655 appears to go out of its way to make sure it doesn't step on a neighboring legacy WLAN operating in its 40 MHz extension channel. And when the neighboring WLAN is on its primary 40 MHz channel, the 655 appears to use normal 802.11 mechanisms to compete for on-air time.

Although I'd expect the CCA mechanism to be tweaked to implement better 11n operation, the initial approach errs in the correct direction. Remember, however, 40 MHz or 20/40 MHz testing isn't included as part of Wi-Fi Certification, so not all products will operate this way.

Put it all together, and the DIR-655 presents a compelling reason to make the move to draft 11n if you're happy with a single-band solution.

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