Buffalo AirStation 54Mbps Broadband Router Review

Wireless Performance

"Signal Quality" readings are actually the Buffalo Tech Client Manager "Condition" readings
Testing was done with a Buffalo Tech WLI-CB-G54 Cardbus client card in a WinXP Home Dell Inspiron 4100 laptop

Since the WBR-G54 is a first-of-kind product to the SNB test bench, and since Broadcom is trying to set a de-facto standard with their "54g" draft 802.11g implementation, I gave the product a pretty thorough going over. But before I get into the results, let me climb onto my soapbox for a little speech.

The 802.11g standard has not yet been approved, but is expected to be in the April-May 2003 timeframe. Broadcom - the maker of the chipset in the Buffalo Tech and Linksys 11g products - is making an aggressive bid to gain market share in the wireless networking market with the early introduction of wireless networking products based on the draft 802.11g standard. By doing so, Broadcom hopes to get the "first mover" market share advantage and make up for the time (and money) lost by not having participated in the previous 802.11b explosion.

Anyone who buys a draft 802.11g product should be prepared to deal with not only the usual "early adopter" bugs, but also recognize that this technology is a work in progress. You are going to pay for the privilege of helping Broadcom debug their chipset, firmware, and drivers, and also come up the learning curve on wireless networking in general.

However, you won't be working directly with Broadcom, but with whichever vendor you purchase your product from. The interesting thing to watch (and perhaps an important factor in your purchase decision) will be how Buffalo Tech and Linksys each handle the tech support burden that they are taking on. There are pros and cons for both companies, but in the end, it will come down to which one delivers superior support. I hope you use the SmallNetBuilder Opinion feature to share your experiences with others.

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