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Agere ORiNOCO RG-1000 Residential Gateway

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

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Model: RG-1000

Pros:

- Good speed
- Includes dialup modem for dialup sharing

 
Cons:

- Very rudimentary NAT router
- Windows-only configuration
- Sparse documentation
- Setup may drive you crazy

 

 


Review Updates

7/23/01  Added Antenna connector info.

7/17/01 Removed Client information and linked to Gold Card review instead

3/26/01 PPPoE & @Home DHCP client Host name support added. Details here.

2/6/01 New setup software available. Details here.

   

The Basics

 
Indicators

Access Point

  • Power

  • Wireless LAN Activity

  • Ethernet Activity

  • Dial-up Modem Activity

LAN PC Card

  • Power

  • Link Activity

Comes with
  • printed "Getting Started" guides

  • CDRom with drivers, utilities, and PDF copy of guides

  • telephone cable

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

It's no secret that Lucent has sourced the innards of the Apple Airport and its client PC cards, and now they're selling essentially the same capability under the ORiNOCO label.  For those of you who have envied Airport users, you need envy no more!  You can now buy the Lucent/ORiNOCO RG-1000 and see whether Mac users have all the wireless fun!   Is it the product to solve your wireless problems?  I don't think so, but read on and decide for yourself.

 

What's in the box?

The RG-1000's package has been described by other reviewers as an "iron" and "Klingon knife". To me, it looks like a shark's fin.  One bad feature of the package is that you need to take the back cover off to access all connectors and the two Reset-type buttons.  But the cover contains side feet that keep the rest of the box from falling over.  So while you're setting up the unit and have the back cover off, make sure you have a nice flat surface and keep kids and cats away.

Inside the box, you'll find essentially the same guts as in the Apple Airport.  The wireless part of the RG is a standard "Silver" PC Card that plugs into a standard PC Card connector.  This means that theoretically you could substitute a Gold card for the Silver model to allow the higher level 128 bit encryption, but I'm not sure the RG1000 setup program would like that very much.  The dialup modem is on a separate board that is plugged into the bottom of the main board.

Since the Silver card allows connection of an external antenna, it would be possible to attach one to the card, but you'd have to drill a hole in the cover for the cable.  Note that ORiNOCO does not presently offer an external antenna option.

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

 

Setting up is hard to do...

I found that the RG functions best as an Ethernet to wireless bridge.  I didn't have much luck trying to run it as an Ethernet to wireless NAT router (nor would you want to... more on this later), had intermittent success using it as a dialup router, and you can't route Ethernet-to-Ethernet and Ethernet-to-Wireless at the same time because it has only one Ethernet port.

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

While preparing for this review, I checked out leads from user Opinion that had already been posted and did some checking of other reviews.  Most reviews complained of difficulty in setting up the RG, and I have similar results to report, but also some tips to make your setup easier. Go to the Help page for the tips.  Unless you're very lucky, you'll need patience and attention to detail to get a successful installation... and I'm just talkin' about setting up the RG, not the PC card!

 

Documentation and Help

The RG comes with a cute little printed "Getting Started Guide", which will give you the basics for setup, but little else.  Clicking on the RG setup program's Help button brings up HTML based help pages, which mostly repeat information in the printed guide.  The Troubleshooting section does contain some helpful information, however, and be sure to check the README files on the CD.  

My eval unit was a StartUp Kit, which also contained a Silver PC card, so I also received a printed "Getting Started Guide" for it also.  All the manuals are on the CD in PDF form and you'll even find software and documentation for the higher-end Access Point product, too.  The ORiNOCO support Web site didn't contain any FAQ or troubleshooting info at the time of this review, and I didn't like the drop-down selection navigation method, since it prevented me from browsing around to see what was available in the way of Support material. It doesn't contain copies of all the docs that you'll find on your CD either.

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