I’ve been quite happy with my 802.11g Wireless network in my home. It started out as 802.11b, but after I placed more of a load on the network with streaming video between my two ReplayTV DVRs, I re-tooled everything to 802.11g. This was over a year ago, and it’s still doing pretty good. I’ve been tempted to start playing with some of the new MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out) wireless equipment now out on the market (sometimes referred to as “Pre-N” with a nod to the pending 802.11n spec the IEEE is still ratifying). Problem is, I have very diverse equipment on my network, so I use some 11g wireless bridges. Then I have devices with built-in 802.11g wireless (like my HP laptop and my wife’s iMac G5), so I figure it doesn’t make sense for me to mess with it until I can get adapters that all take advantage of the new spec.
I will have a chance to kick the MIMO tires soon with an upcoming residential Wireless LAN install I’m doing for a customer. The reviews on the Belkin Pre-N router have been mostly positive. Naturally, the speed and range benefits aren’t fully realized unless you have Pre-N client adapters running off the Pre-N router (in this case, the customer has a PowerBook with Airport Extreme). However, they do claim increased performance even when used with 802.11g or 11b devices. In this particular installation, the reason I’m being sensitive to range is because it is a classic Chicago condominium layout. For those not familiar, a typical Chicago condo is long and narrow (think railcar), with the bedrooms in the back, kitchen and living room towards the front, with a long hallway connecting everything. If your broadband modem is on one end, getting a strong enough wireless signal clear to the other end can be problematic as it has to go through a lot of walls.
Being the type of guy who likes to hedge his bets, I also found an intriguing router from Buffalo Technologies, the WHR-HP-G54 high-powered 802.11g router, that claims above average signal range (done by using a signal amplifier). Buy.com has these puppies on sale for $49.95 a piece, so I got two of them. Still not being content, I got a Buffalo 9 dBi High Gain Indoor Directional Antenna. That way if I’m still having signal strength issues with the stock antenna, I can try to focus the signal to extend more in one direction.
So my plan is to try the Belkin Pre-N router first and see if that does the trick out of the box. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try the Buffalo High-Powered G router (and antenna if necessary). And if all else fails, I have a Plan C, which is to use some PowerLine (HomePlug) adapters to create a backbone and then drop in some access points in logical spots. Since that would involve a bit more equipment and expense, I’m holding that in reserve.
Naturally, I will report back after I do the installation. May the RF gods smile on me.