Linksys Wireless-G Ethernet Bridge with 5-port switch reviewed


The GS5 is much more than its long, but unassuming name implies and I'll get to that in a minute. But first let me correct an assumption that you might have from its product number. I don't know why, but the "GS" in the name does not mean that the WET54GS5 is part of Linksys' SpeedBooster line that includes the WRT54GS router and WPC54GS CardBus card. Instead, it supports just good ol' straight 802.11g, something that seems a rarity in a market rife with 11g products tarted-up with throughput enhancements of various flavors.

The GS5 comes in a Cisco-era charcoal and silver box that's mostly metal and is intended to sit horizontally on your desk, or can be wall-mounted via the built-in screwhead slots on its bottom. Power, Diag, separate Wireless-G Link and Activity and Link / Activity LEDs for each of its five 10/100 Ethernet switch ports are all on the front surface of the box, but were a bit too dim and had too limited a viewing angle for my taste.

The rear panel contains five 10/100 BaseT Ethernet connectors, recessed Reset-to-Factory-Defaults button and single RP-SMA antenna connector. Given the size of the box and all those Ethernet connectors, something had to give, so the Power connector ended up on the right side of the box. Looks kinda ugly - and prone to damage - sticking out there and I would have preferred to see Linksys provide a power wart with right-angle connector.

The supplied single dipole antenna uses an RP-SMA connector and is jointed so that it locks in 45 and 90 degree positions and can be rotated 360 degrees when you screw it onto its mating connector. Basically, you'll be able to orient the antenna as desired no matter how you position or mount the box.

All Ethernet ports are auto MDI / MDI-X which lets you plug any device, including expansion switches, into any port with either Normal or Crossover cables. Unlike the WET54G, however, the GS5 is not set up for Power over Ethernet (PoE) on any of its ports.

If you're unfamiliar with the difference between a "wireless Ethernet bridge", access point, wireless bridge, and other combinations of the words, "bridge", "wireless", and "Ethernet", you can read the Wireless Bridging NTK. The key points to understand about the GS5 are:

  • It can't function as an access point, i.e. wireless clients set to Infrastructure mode can't associate with it
  • It doesn't require that WDS be supported in any of the devices that it connects to
  • It supports Infrastructure (connecting to a wireless router or AP) and Ad Hoc (connecting to another GS5 or Ad Hoc client) modes.

Tip TIP: Although I couldn't find this info anywhere in Linksys' documentation, a check with Linksys revealed that the GS5 supports not just five, but up to a total of 32 clients attached to its switch ports.