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Wireless Reviews

Introduction

Updated 8/21/2010: Added component info.

NETGEAR WNDAP350 ProSafe 802.11n Dual Band Wireless Access Point

At a Glance
Product NETGEAR ProSafe 802.11n Dual Band Wireless Access Point (WNDAP350)
Summary Atheros-based dual-band simultaneous N AP with multiple SSID, PoE and command line management.
Pros • Eight SSIDs per band
• HTTP, HTTPS & SSH command line management
• WDS Bridging / Repeating
• Can be powered by power wart or 802.3af PoE
• Built-in and upgradeable antennas
Cons • No WPS support
• Lackluster performance
• Optional antenna connectors for 2.4 GHz radio only

For some reason, some folks don't like paying for a wireless router when they only want an access point. Or perhaps they think that paying more (and you will pay more) for a "business grade" access point will result in better performance than consumer routers provide. Unfortunately, at least on the latter point, NETGEAR's WNDAP350 won't satisfy your desires.

The WNDAP350 is NETGEAR's top-of-line business-class access point, with dual 802.11n radios that each support up to eight SSIDs. The AP uses NETGEAR's dark grey "business box" sturdy metal packaging that marks it as member of its ProSafe product line. As such, the WNDAP350 comes with a lifetime warranty (3 years only on the power supply, though) and has optional "OnCall 24x7 ProSupport Service Packs" available for customers both in and outside the US.

Figure 1 shows the front and rear panels with callouts for the latter. Note that the single LAN port is 10/100/1000 and also supports 802.3af Power over Ethernet.

WNDAP350 front and rear panels

Figure 1: WNDAP350 front and rear panels

There is also a serial console port that can be used for command-line management, which is also available via SSH.

Note that there is no mode indicator to show whether the WNDAP350 is functioning as an AP or WDS bridge / repeater and no physical mode switch. Nor is there a button to kick off a WPS push-button session, since the WNDAP350 doesn't support WPS.

Finally, callout #1 should read "The WNDAP350 supports two detachable dipole antennas", since no antennas ship with the product (more on this shortly).

Internal Details

Figure 2 shows a shot of the WNDAP350 board, taken from the FCC ID docs. Unfortunately, the closeups in the document don't allow component identification past being able to tell that it's an all-Atheros design.

Updated 8/21/2010: Added component info.

NETGEAR was kind enough to tell me that the Atheros components used are:
- AR7161: 680 MHz Wireless Network Processor
- AR9220: Single chip 2.4/5 GHz Mac/Baseband/Radio
- AR9223: Single chip 2.4 GHz Mac/Baseband/Radio

WNDAP350 board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: WNDAP350 board

Each radio makes two connections to the antenna module sitting on the top cover. The antennas shown in Figure 2 are a bit unusual and have no gain spec that I could find. I couldn't be sure how the rear panel RP-SMA connectors were connected, so I opened the WNDAP350 up for a look. I was surprised to see that they connected only to the top radio in the photo.

WNDAP350 antenna detail

Figure 3: WNDAP350 antenna detail

As I reviewed the admin GUI, I stumbled across an Internal / External switch on the 2.4 GHz radio and its reference in the User manual, which solved the mystery of which radio can have higher-gain antennas attached. Having this option for only one radio isn't a very enterprise-worthy design, though.

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