D-LinkAir Wireless Network 2.4GHz Ethernet-to-Wireless Bridge
February 24, 2003
UPDATED: Brain-dead installation is the hallmark of Ethernet-to-wireless 802.11b bridge products, and D-Link's diminutive entry is no exception. Its few minor flaws do little to detract from its ease and usefulness.
D-Link's DWL-810 Ethernet-to-Wireless Bridge was one of the first devices announced this year to connect Ethernet-equipped products to a wireless LAN. It was recently re-released for gaming purposes: the three major video game consoles (Nintendo GameCube, Microsoft Xbox, and Sony PlayStation 2) all have Ethernet adapters built in or available, so part of the DWL-810's target market is gamers who want to experience Internet-based multiplayer gaming without running cable.
The DWL-810 can, of course, also be used as a quick-and-dirty means to connect a PC or other device with an Ethernet port (like a network attached storage device or network printer) without having to deal with possibly complicated issues like the installation of drivers. Also, like most of the devices in this category, the bridge can be used to wirelessly connect two wired LANs to each other.
The $89.99 (droped from $128, but only available for a short time) DWL-810 comes in a really diminutive package -- 1.6x3.5x3.2 inches -- smaller even than its competitor, the Linksys WET11 Wireless Ethernet Bridge, which is pretty small it its own right. Considering the size of the DWL-810, the front mounted power (green) and activity (amber) lamps are comparatively large. Probably the result of an aesthetic design decision rather than a technical one, they're big and round and far from the sometimes indistinguishable slivers of light that punctuate many products. Another aesthetic design cue -- the big "D" atop the unit.
Even the DWL-810's recessed reset button is tiny. If you want to do a hard restore, you'd better have a bent paperclip handy, because the button will not accommodate something as large as the tip of a ballpoint pen. Then again, D-Link quite smartly enables you to restore factory settings from within the Web browser administration console.One complaint is the lack of an uplink switch for the Ethernet port (which the Linksys WET11 provides), forcing you to use a crossover cable to connect to anything but a hub or switch. Thankfully, D-Link provides a crossover cable, but that's little consolation if you move it and can't seem to find the crossover.
Incidentally, the DWL-810's antenna is omni-directional, but it's fixed to the chassis and can't be removed. The unit has wall mount points and includes the hardware in the form of screws and plastic anchors.
The CD that comes with the DWL-810's is almost superfluous since you won't need it to set up the unit, since the configuration is entirely browser-based. It does include a bundled piece of software from ZeroKnowledge that provides security-related features like an ad blocker, cookie and password managers, and other related capabilities.
The printed documentation consists of an eight-page pamphlet, and the online help is even more meager (thankfully there is a manual in PDF format). You probably won't care, because the unit is easy enough to be set up by anyone without a modicum of networking experience.
The DWL-810 comes preset with an IP address of 192.168.0.30, so it will likely integrate nicely with most existing small and home office WLANs. It can operate in infrastructure and ad-hoc modes, supports either 64- or 128-bit WEP encryption, and can function as a DHCP client. The Web-based configuration interface is fairly spartan, but it's no more complicated than it needs to be.
The performance of the DWL-810 was quite good; much like the Linksys WET11, it posted solid and consistent throughput figures of approximately 5 Mbps even at relatively long distances. Only at 100 feet did the DWL-810 drop below the 5 Mbps mark, but then only barely. Response time and streaming performance was also top-notch, and enabling 128-bit WEP encryption did not throttle any of the numbers.
When you consider everything the DWL-810 has going for it in terms of its low price and ease of installation, you can't really go wrong picking one up (or two, if necessary). Even the few flaws like the omission of the uplink switch don't detract from the elegance and simplicity of the overall package.