Setup Easy, Performance Solid with Netgear WiFi N Access Point

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Netgear ProSafe

The Netgear ProSafe WNDAP350 would have been easier to set up if it came preset as a DHCP client, as we've seen with devices from Cisco and others. However, the sturdy dual radio 802.11n access point performed fairly well in tests, was simple to set up and manage, and would be an affordable and flexible addition to a reseller's product lineup.

Out of the box, the WNDAP350 broadcasts a pair of SSIDs -- one for each of its WiFi radios -- and began connecting wireless Ethernet clients to the CRN Test Center lab network as soon as it was assigned a valid IP address. Its 2.4 GHz and 5.0GHz radios each has its own pair of semi-internal antennas, and the unit provided steady throughput within a 50-foot radius of the access point.

We characterize the included antennas as "semi-internal" because they're housed under a large camel hump. So if you're stacking the WNDAP350, it has to go on top (probably a good idea anyway). Self-adhesive rubber feet are included, as are wall-mounting slots, mounting screws and drywall anchors. If external antennas are required, a pair of reverse SubMiniature A (SMA) connectors can be activated using a software switch in the management interface.

Netgear Wireless Setup

Testers configured the WNDAP350 as a simple bridge between mobile clients and the Internet with no client authentication or security, which took just a few minutes. We used a laptop equipped with an Intel 5300 AGN WiFi chip, which can operate in the 2.4GHz and 5.0 GHz bands simultaneously. Within sight of the AP, which was mounted vertically on the wall about 7.5 feet up, we timed the transfer of a compressed media file from the laptop to an isolated endpoint on the other side of the AP.

This first measured transfer rate of 52.3 Mb/s became our baseline. We began to move our laptop away from the access point in 25-foot increments, repeating the test each new distance. The data rate remained about the same until we reached 75 feet, at which time it dropped by about three quarters. Along our test course exists curved hallways, steel doors, other access points and numerous other potential sources of interference. Far from an ideal environment for wireless transmissions, our tests were designed more to mimic the real world, where obstacles and interference will usually exist.

Netgear's Prosafe WNDAP350 offers all the usual security acronyms, including WEP, WPA, WPA2 and RADUIS support with 802.1x. It also adds enterprise-like features like rouge AP detection, quality of service and support for VLANs, as well as the ability to create security and wireless profiles. For $299 list including a lifetime warranty, the Netgear WNDAP350 is a solid value, and one that the CRN Test Center recommends for any reseller seeking a solid, reliable brand-name access point.

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