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Another “Why can’t they ….” department

June 13, 2010

Well, huh!

Why can’t they produce the exact Wireless N/Gigabit router that I need?

This all started because we were fed up with the thick 20 ft HDMI cable running out of the back of the TV across the carpet into the back of my computer, that we use when we watch stuff I’ve ‘PVR’ed. Why was it there in the first place? Well, our wifi’s max rate is a theoretical 55 Mbps (in reality about 20 Mbps), and this is not fast enough via our wifi connection to the laptop to display recordings without audio drop-outs and screen stuttering.

It’s a fairly new Compaq CQ-60 laptop. It’s a kind of bottom of the range, fairly decent processor spec, 720p display, Wireless G connected, 500 Gig disk upgraded and Windows 7 upgraded thing.

I was noodling with Google and came across the fact that HP part #482260-001 is a plug-in replacement wireless radio for the computer which works at wireless N specs (maximum 300 Mbps speed, reality about 100 Mbps).

eBay showed 1 used one for sale at, waitaminnit, $3.69 ‘buy-it-now’ price. S&H brought the price up to nearly $10. I gotta have that! It arrived in due course (thank you primetechparts.com of Washington. I can’t rate you because eBay has banned me again without even telling me why they’ve done so, this time. Last time was completely and utterly bogus, they claimed that I had conspired to downgrade one seller along with another group of folks. At the time, I had only ever rated one seller, and that had been really positive. So this claim was patently not true. I appealed, to no effect. I even wrote to Meg Whitman, who didn’t reply. Think about that when you vote for California’s Governor in November. Jerry Brown has never, ever, ignored me. But, I digress)

The replacement card took seconds to install. It connected to our wireless G router, after a few seconds automatically installing driver software. Perfect 🙂

Not so fast.

I borrowed a redundant Apple Airport Express from a pal to test whether the new wireless N card would stop the audio glitches and video stuttering. Sure thing it did. But it wasn’t the easiest device to set up. Apple doesn’t expect anyone to be doing anything but moron simple with this device. Set up a network printer, great. Set up an iTunes distribution point, great. Set up a wireless router, great.

However, try to set up a WDS or an ‘additional wireless network’ (which is what I wanted), it’s up to you. No wizard, not even any instructions. Oh well, I’d only borrowed it, but the question occurred to me about why was it available for borrowing?

Here’s a little-known fact about the Airport Express. The wired Ethernet connectivity is 100 Base-T, or 100 Mbps theoretical maximum. How do you provide wireless N clients of this device connectivity at anywhere their even practical limit when the theoretical limit of wireless N is 300 Mbps? Think about it.

But it’s neatly packaged, and were it not that it only has a wired WAN port, and no Gigabit wired port, it would have been nearly perfect. But WTF, $99 for this, really!

What I was looking for was a single device that could replace all the networky bits and pieces that we have hanging around, which include a requirement to connect three gigabit Ethernet devices (one of which is an iMac, so wireless N would do, at a pinch, but why go backwards?). We also have the now wireless N enabled laptop, an iPod touch (wireless G), a couple of Linksys Skype phones whose base station connects through wired 100 Base-T, and a Buffalo printer server that also connects through wired 100 Base-T.

Connecting all these currently is a Belkin Wireless G router (lame, I know, but it at least has ‘guest’ Internet wireless access) which has 4 x 100 Base-T ethernet ports apart from the WAN port, and a DLink D-2205 4-port Gigabit switch. The three Gigabit devices are connected to the DLink switch (and boy, is file transfer fast! – typically 400 Mbps), and the Belkin router has a connection to the DLink switch, the Buffalo printer server and the Skype phones. In summary, the Belkin router and the DLink switch each have a spare port. Put another way, we have 8-2 wired Ethernet devices – 3 Gigabit computers, 1 Printer server and Skype phones. And a connection from the router (LAN side) to the switch (WAN side).

So, (at last, I hear you say), I can get rid of all this junk by buying a Dual Band wireless N 4 port Gigabit Ethernet router with USB printer support.

Or, better still, given that I already have a 4 port Gigabit Ethernet switch, a Dual Band single port Gigabit Ethernet router with USB printer support.

Linksys, nuthin’. Netgear, nuthin’. Belkin, nuthin’. You look carefully out there in the marketplace, there ain’t nothing that doesn’t require you to install lame client software on each computer to use the printer, and then, only one at a time! My old Buffalo printer server works perfectly, and doesn’t care what the the client is.

Nearest. Apple Airport Extreme. Fails by just one Gigabit Ethernet port. Three instead of four. Expensive, however. (Shift the printer onto its USB port and I need just 4 ports to connect everything we have.)

Next nearest: Apple Airport Express. It’s *so* close. It needs a Gigabit port added, leave the WAN port 100 Base-T, that’s fine, given that the incoming cable internet connection is not much better than 10 Mbps.

Funny that. I’m not particularly an Apple fan. Ask me about what’s needed to share a wireless iMac (Airport) connection. WEP security is the only option. Eeeeuuuwww! But the Airport Express and the Airport Extreme come very close to meeting my requirements.

Is anyone listening out there?

Categories: computery stuff
  1. S.
    June 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    It’s all moot now as SWMBO has taken the laptop off to the other side of the country to do some real work. The big old black HDMI cable on the carpet will remain, at least for now.

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