Introduction and Specs
More and more homes these days contain multiple PCs, and in this age of increasingly common broadband connections it's a no-brainer to want to connect these machines together over a WLAN, or Wireless LAN. Doing so will allow you to share files and the broadband connection so that everyone can surf the web smoothly. For sometime now, users have been trucking along at 11 Mbps and 54 Mbps using 802.11b and 802.11g components such as routers, PCI cards, etc. But, as with everything else built into, installed on, or just connected to a PC, there's always room for improvement, and this usually means doing something faster. That's what X-Micro intends to do with today's showcase on the X-Micro WLAN 11g Turbo Mode Broadband Router and PCMCIA Card. Both of these components use a Turbo Mode, that is supposed to bring transfer speeds up as high as 108 Mbps, all the while staying within the standard 2.4GHz frequency band that is commonly being used today. This isn't exactly a new concept, as other manufacturers such as LinkSYS have their "Speedbooster technology" and the like. The lack of a true protocol has simply caused companies to give them different names until a standard is settled upon. For now, let's get acquainted with today's hardware...
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The X-Micro WLAN 11g Turbo Mode Broadband Router comes packaged with the essentials: a user's manual in English and German, one CAT5 patch cable and the power supply. There's nothing to install, so no CD was necessary. To configure the various capabilities of the router, one simply needs enter an IP address into an Internet browser and type in the correct username and password. The router itself is a light-weight unit, cast entirely in silver plastic with LEDs on the front and ports on the back. The LEDs on the front give basic information to the user such as whether or not the unit is powered on, a signal is being detected and data being transferred, and which jacks (1-4) are currently active. These lights flicker when data is being transferred to display system activity, a quick way to monitor the connection should problems arise. On the back we can see a gold thread on the left upon which a small grey antenna is attached, perhaps no more than 4 inches long. A line from a cable modem goes into the solitary port on the right and up to four devices can be hard-wired into the adjacent four jacks. Finally, there is a jack for the power supply and a reset button to set the router back to its factory default settings.
The PCMCIA card came in a separate package along with the driver CD and a brief installation guide. Essentially, once the router is setup correctly, all one needs to do on the other end is to install the drivers off of the CD, plug-in the PCMCIA card, and if everything is n working order, you've got a wireless connection. There's nothing too spectacular about the card itself - the bulk of it resides within the laptop with the outer edge remaining on the outside. On the edge are two lights which serve the same function as the router's LEDs. One lights up a solid green to tell the user it's being powered by the PCMCIA slot, while the other lights up when a link has been established, which blinks with network activity.