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Need advice which Router/AP I should use (newbe)

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Waldfels

New Around Here
I am completely new to WLAN and would appreciate some help.

I would like to expand my pure wire-LAN for the use with some WLAN-devices. This includes Nintendo's Wii, Apple's iPhone, a WiFi Streaming client for TV and 2 notebooks, one capable of draft-n the other one 802.11b.

Alas, I have no experience with WLAN, so I hope of getting some advice for this.

I cant replace my active Router (this is a location issue), so if I have understand this right I need an AP instead of a Router (I have tried to use a netgear WNR3500 router for this but I did not work - netgear told me not to use 2 routers but to replace my old one - which I cant).

The location has some pretty solid walls too, so I need an AP which has a good range.

Can you please name me a device (netgear, d-link, zyxel, linksys, ...)which I can use for this specific situation (the price should not be more than $250-$300 for it).

Thank you very much and sorry for my bad english,
A.Waldfels
 
Since you're simply adding wireless, an AP will do, as well as virtually any wireless router can also be turned into an access point/AP very easily.

For a regular Access Point, some models would be TrendNet TPL110AP (about $50) , D-Link DWLG700-AP ($85), or DLink DWL-7100AP ($150). Google 'Wireless Access Point' and there's tons of products.

As I said, any wireless router would also do, link a Linksys WRT54G, D-Link DIR-625, 655, etc. To turn a Wireless router into an AP, you just have to log into the device, assign the device a different address than your existing router (i.e. if your existing router is 192.168.1.1, assign the wireless router 192.168.1.2), and disable DHCP server/services. Then, just plug it into your existing setup using one of the regular PC/LAN ports (not the WAN/Internet port), and you've turned it into a wireless Access Point.

Since your new to Wireless, also remember to secure your WLAN. Essentially, all you really have to do is just turn WPA or WPA2 (not WEP) on in the Access Point / Router's configuration and assigning a good, relatively strong keyphrase (which you'll have to enter on your PC/iPhone/Device). Changing the wireless network's name (aka SSID) is also a good idea, and helps to identify it as your own.

There's also a ton of good articles on this site focusing on how to secure your WLAN, signal strength, channels, etc. But most products are plug and play, so just as long as you enable WPA/WPA2 security, you should be OK.
 
Thanks a lot for the information.

I have learned a lot from reading the various articles and I of course have googled this issue. As you said there are a lot of products available but this is part of the problem. Without the propper knowledge it is very hard for me to recognise which product is a good one and which is not.

After reading the articles I think I will give it a try to turn my Netgear 3500 Router into an AP, instead of bringing it back to the store, and proceed with a manual installation (the netgear setup wizard does not support this configuration).

Thanks for the help,
A.Waldfels
 
The 3com 7760 is a nice access point and looks fairly decent hanging on a wall. I have used those a lot.

If you want something more sitting on a shelf Linksys WAP4400N is also a nice one with prefect range as well.
 
The setup wizards will rarely ever help you with anything more than the basics. Turning your Netgear into an AP would work just fine, and it's pretty easy to do. I haven't run a netgear for a while, but the process is pretty much the same across any router. You essentially just need to log into the device and change the router's address and turn off DHCP, as I mentioned.

And you're right, there's lots of options out there, sometimes outright confusing. I work in corporate IT, but when it comes to products in the home space I can't usually tell you much about one or the other. Almost any product by any of the major manufacturer's would be fine (Netgear, Linksys, DLink, Buffalo, etc). The only real thing you have to know is do not to believe the marketing hype on the packaging. Some will say "11x Faster" or "5x Range" - this is usually drastically overstated and realistically false. Read Tim's articles, they provide a good starting point. He mentions alot about planning and coverage.
 
As noted in the How To Choose article, for mature technology like 802.11b/g, products are more similar than different. The kinks were worked out awhile ago.

Particularly if you don't care about routing capabilities, as Scotty noted, you would notice little difference in consumer 11g APs/routers. Whether they will give you the performance you desire, however, is a different matter. The only way to know that is to try and see.

Good luck with your choice.
 
After reading the suggested articles I managed to turn my Netgear WNR3500 from Router to AP.

It workes very well, but I have 2 questions:

1) Is it possible to use the now to an AP downgraded Netgear WNR3500 as a switch? (I mean the 4 gigabit LAN ports of the Router, to plug in another desktop). This doesnt work at the moment (I have connected the netgear via one of its LAN ports to my network as told in the article "How To Convert a Wireless Router into an Access Point").

2) Is there a security problem if I allow the AP to use WPA and WPA2? Or should I only use WPA2 for more security?

Thanks for the help,
Waldfels
 
You should be able to use the other ports of the WNR3500. What is happening when you plug another computer into one of its free ports? You should have NO connections to the WNR3500 WAN port.

No problem if you use the mixed WPA/WPA2 mode. That's what I run on my WLAN since I have some handheld devices that don't support WPA2. Just be sure to use a strong keyphrase to protect against dictionary attacks and just plain guessing!
 
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