By Terry Currier
Actiontec has now come out with their 802.11g Wireless Access Point, and PCMCIA (PC card). And, the answer to your question is no, they do not have a 802.11g router – yet. Actiontec waited until the final 802.11g specifications were close enough to completion that there would only need minor changes before coming out with their own product. That way they (and you) could feel confident about their product. The 802.11g specifications will also work with the 802.11b. The speed rating for the 802.11b is 11Mbs (megabits per second) while for the 802.11g is 54Mbs.
Setup is easy. The Actiontec 54 Mbps Wireless Access Point is installed by simply attaching the Ethernet cable from your router or hub to the Access Point. I should point out the Actiontec 54 Mbps Wireless Access Point is just that. It is a point for wireless units to connect to. The Wireless Access Point can be a distribution point for transmission, or it can be used as a relay to extend how far you want to transmit. With it you get the Actiontec locator software for loading onto any computer you want to link to. This helps to quickly setup a connection to the Access Point and thus your computer. Not that it is needed, it just helps. In fact I did not even install the software at first, and still could find the Access Point connection to my desktop computer. It does help to configure the connection with setting it to obtain an IP address automatically (DHCP), or by using a set IP address.
When I first got the Actiontec 802.11g Wireless PC Card I took it to the Computer User Group Conference in San Diego. Intel was there and offering a free Wi-Fi hot spot. Putting the PC Card in, it registered and installed itself with no sweat. Anyway in the system tray up came a “balloon” saying there was a wireless connection available. I clicked on it and picked up the Centrino connection. In another test I tried lunch and the free Wi-Fi at the Panera Bread store in Newport Beach. It was so easy it’s unbelievable. Put in the card, found their wireless connection, and accepted their agreement for getting on. I then connected to the Internet with no problems. I also tested the download speed with their connection. It was pretty good, albeit through a 802.11b connection. I went to PCPitstop.com for the Internet connection test. My download transmission speed was 1223kbs and my upload speed was 418kbs. By comparison on my cable hook-up my transmission speed is 3182kbs.
Now what you have to keep in mind is the speed rating is kilobits per second (kbs), not bytes. For a real world test I transferred files between my computer and my notebook using both a 802.11b and 802.11g cards. With my Belkin Wireless Router and Buffalo Wireless PC Card both being 802.11b I transferred 51Mb (megabytes), it took 91 seconds. With the Actiontec 802.11g Wireless Access Point and PC Card it took 29 seconds.
The wireless speed can not compare to Ethernet. If you have to transfer large files often, then it may not be fast enough for you. Wireless is for those that have to connect to another computer and doesn’t want to drill holes to run the cable. Or, in my case have to face my wife after drilling the holes. It works great for connecting my computer with my son’s. We could transfer files, share the printer, even played games. It easily keeps up with cable modem speed with both of us on.
The Actiontec 54 Mbps Wireless PC Card will do Dynamic Rate Shifting to automatically select the best available data rate while maintaining the connection and extending range. While you are roaming you can protect your data from eavesdroppers by using 40-bit and 128-bit WEP encryption, and WPA. With the WPA, you will be able to add in password protection to really make your network secure. It works in 2.4 GHz frequency, and no problems with wireless telephones. Both the Wireless Access Point, and PC Card come with a one year warranty.
From our December 2003 newsletter
Winners is a member of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG) is an international, platform-independent, nonprofit corporation (incorporated in Washington, DC) devoted to helping user groups throughout the world. Almost 400 user groups are members of APCUG. http://www.apcug.net/