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Belkin Wireless 802.11b Networking Review

Belkin Wireless 802.11b Networking Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Data is sent over the radio waves at a frequency of between 2400~2483.5 MHz using Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) technology.
 84% Rating:   
Filed under: Networking Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Belkin Apr 16 2002   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Networking > Belkin F5D6130

Talking about signal strength

Hard wired Ethernets do not have to worry about distances between computers, hubs, and switches for the most part. While there are physical limitations to how long a Cat5 cable will reach, 802.11b wireless networking is a little more sensitive. Things like metal and furniture, and walls can degrade the signal strength being received by the various wireless network adaptors (of which the Belkin F5D6130 can support over 11, 5.5, 2 and 1Mbps transfer speeds). Things like microwaves can potentially cause interference if you say place you WAP right no top, but remember that this device operates at around 2.4GHz. If you do notice a spotty connection to the WAN there are 11 channels to choose from - much in same lines as with cordless telephones.

The Belkin FD56130 is nice because it is a dual dipole antenna AP - or in english, it has two separate external adjustable antennas. I would personally stay away from AP's with internal antennas only because there range is opt to be lower.

In terms of installation there isn't really any place you can't mount the WAP, but the manual suggests locating it at the center of the region you wish to cover. So you aren't wandering around blindly, there is a small menu which shows you the signal strength the network adaptor is receiving.

This is handy when you are installing the WAP in an office or home because you can visually see how well things are going. Obviously the lower the link and signal strength, the lower the transmission rate will be.

For people on notebooks with the Belkin F5D6020 wireless notebook network card there is a little icon which illustrates the connection and signal strength in the menu bar. Green is good, yellow is so-so and red means the connection has been lost, or the settings are not configured properly.

Bandwidth Tests

Simple HDD Data Transfer Source: PCStats

We created a 560MB file and used Windows Explorer to copy it from one computer connected via a 10/100 Ethernet cable to the computer with the Belkin Wireless network adaptor. The IDE controllers on both computers ran at Ultra/100 with DMA enabled.

560MB File Transfer
Belkin WAP Time
1.

11Mbits/s

1091 sec

The maximum transfer speed of 802.11b is 11Mbps, and for this test we averaged at about 520KB/s (or about 18 minutes to transfer the large file). Since the port on the rear of the WAP is only 10BaseT this is about right. Wireless is slower than a hardwired LAN, but for webpages and downloads the difference is really not going to be that exaggerated as DLS and cable bandwidth is capped at about 512KB anyway.

For instance we downloaded the 39.8MB 3Dmark2001SE file from our friends at Majorgeek.com over the Belkin wireless gear which took roughly 484 seconds. From a hard wired computer the same download took 439 seconds to complete. The difference is there, but it really isn't much as far as the internet is concerned.

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Contents of Article: Belkin F5D6130
 Pg 1.  Belkin Wireless 802.11b Networking Review
 Pg 2.  Installation, Rough At The Start
 Pg 3.  Protecting your Wireless network data
 Pg 4.  — Talking about signal strength
 Pg 5.  Conclusions

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