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Buffalo AirStation Local Router - Standard

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 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 9/7/2000

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Model: WLA-L11

Pros:

- Costs less! Works great!
- PCI and ISA adapter cards available

 
Cons :

- 40 bit WEP only
- Documentation and admin screens difficult to understand.

 

 


Review Updates

9/15/01  Version 2.31 firmware adds wireless bridging and repeating between two stations. See the ReadMe or get the download

7/23/01  Corrected Antenna connector info.

5/23/01  Updated "Cons" to reflect Standard Model only.

4/19/01  Added connector info.

3/7/01  MacOS driver available, but not supported by BuffaloTech

   

The Basics

 
Indicators

Access Point

  • Power

  • Wireless LAN Link/Activity

  • Ethernet Link/Activity

  • Diag

LAN PC Card

  • Power

  • Link Activity

Connectors
  • One RJ45 10/100BaseT Ethernet LAN connection

  • Power

Comes with
  • printed User guide

  • CDRom with drivers, utilities, and PDF copy of User guide

  • UTP normal cable (Access Point)

Other
  • Fixed position, Integrated (non-removable) Antenna in Access Point

  • Fixed position, Integrated (non-removable) Antenna in PC Card, but with connector for auxiliary antenna attachment.

 

Introduction


The AirStation is a product that's certain to capture some attention.  It's the first 802.11b WiFi branded wireless Access Point to break the $300 price barrier, and it works!  It's designed by Melco and distributed in the US by both Buffalo Technologies and Techworks, which are both Melco subsidiaries, but my review unit and dealings were with Buffalo Tech folks, who were very helpful.

 

Setup and Basic Features


The AirStation Access Point presently comes in three flavors:

  • "Standard" Model: functions as wireless to Ethernet bridge

  • "Cable/DSL" Model: functions either as wireless to Ethernet bridge, or wireless to Ethernet router (uses "IP Masquerading / Port Address Translator" to share one Ethernet IP address with multiple wireless clients)

  • "Analog Modem" Model: same as "Cable/DSL" model plus a 56K dialup modem. Functions as wireless to Ethernet bridge, wireless to Ethernet router, or dialup to wireless router. 

Tip: If you don't know the difference between a bridge and a router, go to this page.

Update 5/23/01 There's now a fourth model which functions as an wireless router for both Wireless and Ethernet clients simultaneouslyRead the review here.

This review will focus on the "Standard" bridge-only model,  The "Standard" model doesn't care what kind of ISP connection you have as long as you connect it into an Ethernet based network!  As I said above, it doesn't perform any sharing or routing functions, so you'll need to have something else on your network to handle those chores.  The AirStation Access Point (ASAP) will make the wireless clients part of the same subnet as your existing Ethernet LAN, so file sharing will work without problems.

The ASAP comes with a printed "Installation Guide" that does a decent job helping you get installed. Although the manuals are not available on the Web site, you can access FAQ, spec sheets and latest client driver and utility updates

The ASAP default configuration has the Ethernet port set to be a DHCP client, but I recommend you use the Setup wizard on the install CD.  It does the following:

  • establishes communication with the AirStation 

  • loads the AirStation Manager program

  • creates a wireless Client configuration floppy (I recommend doing this)

  • installs the LAN card drivers

  • installs the Client Manger program

  • retrieves the LAN client settings from the floppy

  • tests the connection

Quite a difference from the wrestling match that I had with the 3COM AirConnect setup!

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