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 Agere ORiNOCO RG-1000 Residential Gateway

Page 3 

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 11/7/2000


Updated 7/17/01 Since we now have separate reviews for the ORiNOCO Gold PC and USB clients, that section of the review has been removed.  Instead refer to the USB Gold or PC Card reviews.

Client installation

The ORiNOCO LAN card comes in one flavor - PCMCIA (PC Card) -, uses the Lucent chip set (naturally!), and has a fixed position, non-removable antenna.  The antenna has a "hump" that would interfere with a card next to it, so you'll probably need to put it into the top PCMCIA slot of your laptop.  The card has two LEDs which indicate card power and wireless LAN activity. There's also a removable cover on the end of the card's antenna hump that conceals a small MMCX type antenna connector.

If you want to add desktop clients that don't have PCMCIA card slots to your wireless network, ORiNOCO has both ISA-to-PCMCIA and PCI-to-PCMCIA adapter cards available.  However, you need to buy both the PC Card LAN card and the adapter of your choice, raising the cost of adding a wireless station to probably about $200 for desktops (This is estimated based on similar products from other vendors.  I couldn't find a price or even order number for the PCI or ISA adapter.)

The good news is that drivers are supplied for Win 95/98/NT/CE/2000 plus MS-DOS, Linux, and MacOs. NetWare users will have to go elsewhere for their LAN card needs, however, and there's no information on WinME support.  My eval kit came with a printed "Are you using MS-Windows 2000?" insert which you should read before installing the card if Win2000 is your poison.

Driver installation went smoothly on my Win98SE Compaq 1650 laptop. I inserted the PC card into the laptop, Plug & Play detected the card and installed the drivers.  During the driver install, a Configuration profile Edit screen (see below) will come up, which you need to complete correctly or your card won't be able to communicate with the wireless network.  A popup screen near the end of the driver install will tell you to install the Client Manager, but doesn't start the install.

Managing your clients

The Client Manager is a System Tray application used to monitor the wireless link quality and set connection parameters (see the screen shots below).  The CM's System Tray icon (not shown below) is similar to a cell phone signal indicator, dynamically showing the number of "bars" of signal.  Putting the cursor over the icon gives you a reading of signal "Condition" and the bandwidth mode currently being used, so you can get just about all the information you need about the signal state without opening the CM Window.  Check out the screen shots below to get a feel for the CM. (click on any image to open another window with a full-sized view)

ORiNOCO CM - Configuration add/edit screen

Add/Edit Config screen

ORiNOCO CM - Configuration edit screen

NOTE: Your network name will be different!

ORiNOCO CM - Main screen

The CM window opened from the System Tray

The Link test and Site Monitor utilities are probably the best I've seen yet.  They actually give you signal, noise and signal-to-noise readings.  The Link Test Test History view shows a nice little plot over time and readings can be saved to a log file. The Site Monitor feature lets you monitor multiple wireless stations, sorted by various parameters.  You can also run a card diagnostic from the CM.

ORiNOCO CM- Link Test

Link Test window

ORiNOCO CM - Link Test History screen

Link Test - Test History window

ORiNOCO CM - Site Monitor screen

Site Monitor window

Many of these monitoring utilities should also be able to be run from the RG-1000, but they can't.  They're only available via the Client Manager, which is part of the wireless client card software.  This means that you can't run them from an Ethernet based LAN client.

Many LAN Adapter settings that are available on competitive products aren't available with the ORiNOCO drivers.  So you can't:

  • set the Adapter's power mode

  • set/fix transfer rate, Roaming Area, or hide the client

  • choose an operating channel (even for Peer-to-Peer mode)

By establishing different Configuration profiles in the Client Manager (up to 4) you can, however:

  • choose between RG, Peer-to-Peer, and Access Point modes

  • enable/disable Encryption and set a key

  • set a Network name

Although many users won't need to control things such as Client power saving mode or choose among multiple Encryption keys, these features are available in similarly priced competitive products.

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