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Buffalo AirStation 11Mbps Wireless Printer Server

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 3/27/2001

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Model: LPV-WL11
Pros:

- Handles printing from Windows, MacOS, and Linux clients

 
Cons:

- Doesn't handle bi-directional printer functions
- Can only administer via wireless Windows client 

 

 


Review Updates

7/23/01  Corrected Antenna connector info.

4/6/01 Removed reference to RJ45 Ethernet LAN connector.


The Basics

 
Indicators
  • Power

  • Wireless Link/Activity

  • Print activity

  • Diag

Connectors
  • One DB25F printer connector

  • Power

Comes with
  • Utility installation floppy

  • setup "poster"

  • printed User Manual (Introduction)

  • printed User Manual (Application & Settings)

  • 100-240VAC power supply

Other 
  • Hardware Reset switch

  • "AirStation/Peer to Peer" mode switch

  • NO Uplink or Normal / Crossover switch for LAN Ports (see this page for more info).


Introduction


Buffalo Technology's AirStation Wireless Print Server (WPS) will set you back probably more than you'd like (about $280). But if you need to set up a remote printer and don't want the hassle of running cabling, the WPS should do the job for you.


The Details


Like Buffalo Tech's other AirStation products, the WPS uses the Lucent chipset based radio, with the antenna part of the PC Card radio that's inside the WPS' enclosure.  This card has a connector under a removable plug, so you can attach either the AirStation External antenna (reviewed here), or other range extender antennas, provided they use the same type connector (or you have adapters handy).

Update 7/23/01 The Antenna connector type is proprietary to ORiNOCO.  See this page for information on obtaining adapters.

Although the WPS can handle printserving from Windows, Linux/Unix, and MacOs machines, the setup program only runs on a Windows machine and also requires that you install the IPX/SPX protocol on that computer.

  I didn't care for the IPX/SPX protocol requirement.  I don't normally use this protocol and prefer to have a few protocols as needed on my network machines.

NOTE: The WPS will not support bi-directional printer functions.  If your printer has these capabilities and you run into problems getting printing to work, you'll need to either disable the bi-directional features, try a more recent printer driver, or maybe even use another printer!

 

The Setup


The LPV Manager2 setup utility won't win any prizes for beauty, but it gets the job done.  You can choose from the protocols listed in the screen shot below and use the Property button to set the parameters for each.

AirStation Print Server Utility- Main screen


The shot to the right shows the AppleTalk parameters that can be tweaked.  Note that you must use AppleTalk to print from a Mac.  Printing using TCP/IP from a Mac is not supported.

AirStation Print Server Utility- AppleTalk properties screen

 

If you use TCP/IP, you can either assign an IP address or have the WPS pick up IP info from a DHCP, BOOTP, or RARP server.


AirStation Print Server Utility- TCP/IP properties screen

The Wireless Status button will give you packet statistics and the Wave Status button will give you a window with signal condition.

AirStation Print Server Utility- Wireless Status screen

You can also enable 40 bit WEP encryption and enter one Hexadecimal or alpha-numeric key.

I tested the WPS using a SOHOware NetBlasterII Wireless Hub as my LAN access point and with a SOHOware NetBlaster PC card (reviewed here) in my laptop.  The NetBlasterII and WPS utilities played nicely together on my WIN98SE laptop, and I had no problems establishing wireless communication.

Once I had everything talking together wirelessly, all I neded to do was to open my printer properties, go to the Details Tab, click on Add Port, click the Network button and browse to the Printer icon in Network Neighborhood.  A click on the Print Test Page button confirmed I was up and running!

I didn't run any range or throughput tests on the WPS, although I'd expect its range to be similar to the results obtained in the AirStation router review.

 

Summary


As the first to market with a consumer grade 802.11b wireless print server, Buffalo Tech has again set a standard for others to be compared to.  The WPS will probably find more use in an office environment, where the ability to quickly set up a networked printer in a workgroup will easily justify the almost $300 price tag.  But if you need wireless print serving, the Buffalo Tech WPS has got it!

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