Linksys EtherFast Wireless Access Point + Cable/DSL Router w/4-Port Switch
At a Glance
The Linksys EtherFast Wireless Access Point + Cable/DSL Router w/4-Port Switch (BEFW11S4) is a solid overall 802.11b gateway, with very good firewall features and excellent hardware performance at a nice price.
The well-designed purple-and-black case offers a full set of informative LEDs, so you can easily troubleshoot your LAN and cable/DSL connections. Dual antennas strengthen its range, and it has a useful four-port ethernet switch with uplink port so you can daisy-chain it to another ethernet hub.
The gateway equaled the best performance of the Orinoco gateway--but only with the Orinoco card. For some reason (probably the drivers), Linksys's own $70 PC Card yielded subpar results, though the $75 Linksys USB adapter did well.
Card and gateway setup went smoothly, though we'd have preferred a quick guide or basic configuration wizard for the gateway (wizards were included for the cards). We installed the gateway quickly by skipping the online setup guide, and checking a few pages of the printed manual. For a new gateway user, however, the Linksys docs give almost too much information. For example, "Cabling," the first step in the setup procedure, delves into the pin-outs for both straight-through and crossover ethernet cabling. Though having the right cable is important, so much detail may confuse novice users. At best, it takes too long to wade through.
Firewall options include the ability to designate one computer as a Web server (with direct connection to the Internet), along with port filtering and forwarding that enable specific applications to bypass the firewall when needed. You can also manage the gateway remotely from outside the local network.