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View Full Version : wireless hardware - Apple Airport base-station and adapators



gutted
2006-05-31, 03:45
I've done a bit of research on he "best" hardware available, and found that my current hardware (US Robotics) might be in need of an upgrade. Accroding to the "Which?" consumer association (UK), it looks like Apple Airport base-station gets best marks.

They also provide some info on the Apple network adaptors (for Mac OS). It looks like these are also pretty good :)

Just wondering whether anyone knows if Apple have yet (or will ever) released a wi-fi adaptor for generic 'Wintel' PCs? Either that, or is there any sort of PCI adaptor which makes it possible to install the Apple card? (Or would that simply not work? My knowledge of Mac architecture leaves a lot to be desired!)

I'd like, if possible to stick with same-brand networking to be able to take advantage of the "turbo" or "extreme" speeds, greater than 54Mbps. Though I'd be interested to know if anyone is using the Airport Extreme with non-Mac PCs and how the general network speed is...

radish
2006-05-31, 05:43
I don't think Apple wireless hardware is anything special, but who am I to argue with Which? :) In any case, the base stations are entirely standard, but I don't think there's an easy way to get the adapters to work on a pc (drivers being the obvious issue). Personally I use netgear, but check the wiki for "recommended" routers for use with squeezeboxes and buy adapters from the same manufacturer.

gutted
2006-05-31, 08:05
Fair enough - I'll see what I can find in the wiki, thanks :)

My main concern is that the USR kit has a tendancy to fall over if/when transferring a large amount of data over wireless. From what I've heard, most wi-fi routers or access points have their own little quirks. (I've heard horror stories about USR, D-Link etc). Was hoping to find a device that is basically robust and reliable, hence why I was looking at Which?

Has anyone done (or is it worth doing) a poll on which hardware people are using? If there is a thread, can anyone direct me to it?

I hear lots of nice things about Netgear, for example. Anyone had any problems with Netgear, or does it suffer the same sort of quirks as most/all other kit?

azinck3
2006-05-31, 08:14
Fair enough - I'll see what I can find in the wiki, thanks :)

My main concern is that the USR kit has a tendancy to fall over if/when transferring a large amount of data over wireless. From what I've heard, most wi-fi routers or access points have their own little quirks. (I've heard horror stories about USR, D-Link etc). Was hoping to find a device that is basically robust and reliable, hence why I was looking at Which?

Has anyone done (or is it worth doing) a poll on which hardware people are using? If there is a thread, can anyone direct me to it?

I hear lots of nice things about Netgear, for example. Anyone had any problems with Netgear, or does it suffer the same sort of quirks as most/all other kit?


I'm not sure if you're looking for feedback on a wireless NIC, or an access point, but if you're looking for an access point then there's a pretty good resource on the wiki:
http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?RouterStatus

There was also a thread not too long ago about what routers people were using. Didn't really follow it so I don't know if anything useful was said.

My experience shows that any and all brands have their good units and their bad units. It's really hit or miss. If you're looking for a tried and true router/WAP it's hard to go wrong with the old Linksys WRT54G (now the WRT54GL).

aubuti
2006-05-31, 08:25
I hear lots of nice things about Netgear, for example. Anyone had any problems with Netgear, or does it suffer the same sort of quirks as most/all other kit?
I have a Netgear wireless router (WGR614v3), wireless NIC (WG511), and print server (PS101). The wireless stuff is 11g, not turbo/extreme. I've generally been very happy with them, BUT have experienced some of the problems you've had with your USR, with it failing when transferring a lot of data over wireless. I'm not sure, but I think I push it to its limits a lot more since getting by SBs. For example, the first time I really had problems with data transfer was copying several GB of newly-ripped flac files from my laptop to my server. And resets used to be a once-or-twice a year event, but now are much more regular, and I wonder if it isn't because it can't always handle all the flac traffic.

In fact, I often wonder if the complaints about "my wireless was fine before, so the problem must be the SB!" aren't really cases where the router/network has weaknesses that didn't show themselves before they were asked to move so much data around.

FWIW, Dean B (the CTO) heartily recommends Belkin pre-N routers ( http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=22990 ).

gutted
2006-05-31, 08:48
If you're looking for a tried and true router/WAP ...

Indeed, that's what I'm after. I've kind of steered off the main topic/title of the thread as I started out with thinking Apple was the best (based on various bits of research) - but yeah, that's my main reason for posting. Cheers for the info and link to the thread - I'll check it out :) As for which particular bit of kit I'm looking for, it's the complete package - I'd get a router first and then match all the PC card and PCI cards to hopefully take advantage of the "turbo" speeds.


In fact, I often wonder if the complaints about "my wireless was fine before, so the problem must be the SB!" aren't really cases where the router/network has weaknesses that didn't show themselves before they were asked to move so much data around.

Fair comment ;) It sounds like most (maybe even all) routers suffer from this, then. Maybe it's not worth my upgrading my USR for a while then :( Currently I only have MP3s, though I'm planning to move to FLAC at some point. But even streaming with a bitrate limit of anything more than 192 causes problems on my home wi-fi LAN :( :( :( Trying to stream FLAC over wi-fi (if my understanding is correct) is just not going to happen with my current setup :(

Cheers for the tip about the Belkin kit - I'll have a look at that, too.

Mark Lanctot
2006-05-31, 09:05
My experience shows that any and all brands have their good units and their bad units. It's really hit or miss. If you're looking for a tried and true router/WAP it's hard to go wrong with the old Linksys WRT54G (now the WRT54GL).

I read somewhere that the Linksys WRT54G is the best-selling consumer router of all time. Therefore I went with it for the Squeezebox and haven't had any issues since.

That said, the WRT54G today isn't the same one that was sold a few years ago. The initial versions, the v1-v4, actually ran Linux. The code was released a few years ago which led to the development of 3rd party firmware that can allow power and flexibility unheard-of in the factory firmware. (I'm using DD-WRT on my WRT54Gv4).

Recently though, Linksys realized that their routers were overspec compared to the competition and that they couldn't match the competition's prices, so they halved the RAM and ROM (to 8 MB and 2 MB) and ran VxWorks on it rather than Linux. The initial firmware was horrendous but present releases are said to work OK. I would be wary of these units due to their reduced resources, but many Squeezebox users are using them without a problem. Due to the reduced flash memory, it's difficult to load Linux firmware on these, but the latest DD-WRT (v23 SP1) "micro" distribution can be loaded onto it, although it requires a hardware hack.

Fortunately Linksys realized there was still a market for the Linux-powered router and sells the WRT54GL (L for Linux). It's really just a WRT54Gv4. Due to increased resources, it won't sell as low as the WRT54Gv5, perhaps $10-$15 more.

When it comes to throughput choking issues, I suspect it's lack of router resources (out of memory?) There are a lot of comments about the Draytek routers regarding this issue, some about USR and some about D-Link. Therefore the higher the resources, the better, so a WRT54GL should have the advantage here. I can't say I've ever seen any throughput choking with the WRT54Gv4 playing back FLAC.

The GS (speedbooster) versions, v1-v3, have twice the memory of the WRT54Gv4 (32 MB RAM/8 MB ROM), but the v4 has the same (16 MB/4 MB) and the v5 has even less in addition to VxWorks (16/2).

Most say the Speedbooster/turbo/etc. schemes don't deliver. The speed is higher but not to the extent the manufacturers promise. See http://www.tomsnetworking.com/2004/04/01/linksys_wrt54gs_wireless_wrt54gs/ However if you could find a WRT54GS v1-v3 you'd have the extra resources.

For more info, including a complete rundown of the hardware, see:

http://www.linksysinfo.org/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=6