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802.11b Wireless LAN Networking Roundup

802.11b Wireless LAN Networking Roundup - PCSTATS
Abstract: Wireless LAN's are gaining in popularity with a speed that is eclipsing the rate at which Ethernet's were originally adopted by home users.
Filed under: Networking Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Various Sep 09 2002   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Networking > Various 802.11b

Trendnet 802.11b

The Trendnet TEW-211BRP 802.11b wireless router features a 4-port switch and two removable dipole antennas. Unlike the SMC offering there is an extra port for the WAN connection so you have four full 10/100 jacks available for other computers to connect to. The unit comes with a serial port for analog modems and that's about it for extras.

Of all the Wireless Access Points we tested, the Trendnet unit was the only one which came with removable antennas. The importance of this is that for larger area coverage an Omnidirectional (spherical), or Directional (line of sight) antenna can be hooked to improve the signal strength. The build quality of the unit was very good, although it was somewhat difficult to make out the activity LED's behind the smoked plastic window. The unit is wall mountable, and comes with a set of screws.

Trendnet - WAP

Hardware Installation:

The TEW-211BRP installs remotely on the network so all we needed to do was plug in the Ethernet cable into the WAN jack, and a computer into one of the four switch ports. An AC adaptor supplies the unit with DC power and the two antennas screw into reversed SMA jacks. With our WindowsXP test system already setup and installed with the TEW-203PI PCI wireless LAN adaptor, we popped in the CD and launched the configuration screen for the 211BRP.

It's necessary first for the wireless LAN adaptor and the wireless Access Point to have a good strong signal together - the WAP is accessed at 192.168.2.1 through a standard browser so if the wireless connection is down you will not be able to configure the router.

Software Installation & Initial Setup:

There really is no software installation for the 211BRP. The CD-ROM which ships with the unit just ports the browser to 192.168.2.1 and that brings up the on board configuration screens which are hosted in the router. Setup is fairly straight forward, and the manuals are a good reference point, but don't go into exacting detail by any means.

IP Address: 192.168.2.1
Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway: n/a

Setting up a Secure Wireless Connection:

As with each of the WAP's we are testing, the goal is just to set up a wireless connection with MAC filtering (if possible) and 64-bit WEP enabled. Sadly, even for individuals familiar with setting up wired LAN's, this is not always an easy process.

We set up 64-bit encryption using the good old standby key 4D-33-EF-C6-1A. I'm not really certain why the manufacturers don't bother to explain in the manual, or in the software how to go about creating a valid hex key. I would find it really surprising if a new user who is walking through the steps of setting up encryption would even know what to type in since there are no options even to generate the keys with a pass phrase on the Trendnet unit, or in the setup screens that we could find.

The SSID was easy to change, but this provides almost no real protection to a wireless network. It's a good starting place however as leaving the default "Any" setting in place is not a good idea.

In any case, the setup screen were followed and 64-bit encryption and a new SSID were chosen for the 211BRP in no time. After the wireless router was set, we lost the signal momentarily as expected. A third computer which was also monitoring the wireless changes immediately picked up on the SSID change and instantly reconfigured itself to accept the connection (underlying the fact that SSID is useless as a security measure).

The WindowsXP test system showed the connection to the newly created SSID, and a quick double tap on the broken WLAN icon brought up the standard WindowsXP box which allowed us to type in the hex key of 4D-33-EF-C6-1A, and regain the now encrypted connection the wireless router.

Since the computer regained the connection to the Trendnet Router without any problems I'd have to have to give Trendnet some credit for ease of use here. At least one other unit failed to work again once we set encryption up... In case you need it, the reset button is on the rear of the unit. Once pressed for about 5 seconds, it will reset the unit to factory defaults.

Default Network Settings Updated Network Settings
(only examples)
WAN IP Address: 192.168.2.1 192.168.2.1
Password: admin/ - admin / myPass
SSID: Wireless testTREND
WEP: disabled 64-bit enabled
Passphrase: uses hex keys 4D-33-EF-C6-1A
Channel: 6 6
MAC Filters: disabled general

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Contents of Article: Various 802.11b
 Pg 1.  802.11b Wireless LAN Networking Roundup
 Pg 2.  SMC Networks 802.11b
 Pg 3.  SMC Networks PCI 802.11b
 Pg 4.  — Trendnet 802.11b
 Pg 5.  Trendnet PCI 802.11b
 Pg 6.  Actiontec 802.11b
 Pg 7.  Actiontec PCI 802.11b
 Pg 8.  Wireless Test Results

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