Actiontec 802.11a 54Mbps Wireless Gear Review
Actiontec PCMCIA cards which house the 802.11a components are compatible with 32-bit Type II PC
Cardbus slots and will fit in just about any notebook on the market today. Below
the black plastic part which pops up to a little over
twice the height of the rest of the card sits an Atheros AR5000 WLAN
chipset which operates at between 5.15 and 5.35GHz.
That signal range puts the 802.11a way out of the
range of interference created by microwaves, cellular & cordless phones,
Bluetooth and even good old 802.11b. The FCC licences 5.25 - 5.35 / 5.65-5.85GHz
to high power radar systems which is about the only thing left to possibly cause
interference from what we can tell.
802.11a operating under Wi-Fi5 5GHz OFDM (Orthogonal
Frequency Division Multplexing) we as users are free to keep on
trucking with our existing 802.11b equipment. As each of the two wireless
systems operate on distant frequencies, the equipment is completely
Quite a few companies have burst onto the 802.11b wireless networking scene, but
not nearly as many have introduced solutions for 802.11a thus far.
Perhaps the minds behind the marketing are waiting for the Intersil-backed
802.11g standard which promises to bring about even further advancements
in wireless networking. The 802.11g standard was only recently ratified by IEEE and what it
brings to the tables is backwards compatibility with the existing
802.11b standard while maintaining the speed of 802.11a. The only loop hole is
that 802.11g does not bring compatibility (one system operates at 5GHz
and the other at 2.4GHz so they are technically isolated).
little antennas on the unit rotate in just one axis, and instead of
semi-flexible rubber, they are constructed from hard plastic. There is a good
chance they could get broken if the unit falls from its perch to is a good idea to wall mount it, or place in on a firm
surface. Like other Actiontec WAP's we have looked at which operate on the
802.11b standard, the 802.11a HWS05490-1 Wireless access point has mounting points on the
base so it can be hung on a wall, or side of a desk for example.
With the 54Mbps Wireless
Access Point connected to the network via an Ethernet cable, and our test system
prepped with a fresh 54Mbps wireless PCMCIA card we set about the installation
procedures to get the wascully wabbit WAP working wight!
Incidentally, the serial port
on the rear of the unit is for a dial up modem connection, and not for
configuring the units settings.
Software Installation & Initial Setup:
Installation software for wireless access points seems
to be in one of two groups - incredibly complicated and unwieldy,
or just plain straightforward and easy to follow. Actiontec have something
they call the "Installation Buddy" which seems more like a pet
name for a Teddy Ruxpin than a series
of step by step illustrated menus.
The guide is broken down into simple steps which
illustrate that the 54Mbps wireless access point is intended for home,
or novice users rather than battle hardened IT staff. But realistically,
whoever gets the job of installing this kit has it pretty easy and we like that
a lot. It can get really frustrating when you are installing a access point over
the course of a few hours because setting mysteriously stop working. We
experienced none of those problems with the Actiontec unit
The menu system is browser
based which has proven problematic in past experiences with other manufacturers,
but Actiontec seem to have it working robustly since it can work off a direct
PC-to-WAP connection via a crossover cable. To access the administrative
configuration screen from our test system we merely had to type in 192.168.0.250
and log in with the default settings.
|Default Network Settings
||Updated Network Settings |
|WAN IP Address: