D-Link DAP-1522 Xtreme N Duo Wireless Bridge/Access Point

The D-Link DAP-1522 Xtreme N Duo Wireless Bridge/Access Point looks a lot like a standard wireless router — but it's not a router at all. It's an adapter that lets you connect four network-ready devices to a wireless network. This allows you to bridge two networks without running wires, even through walls, as long as the total distance is within 300 feet. The total distance as well as intervening walls will affect speed, but in my testing, I was able to get 70Mbps between two rooms about 12 feet apart.

The device can also function as an access point (AP) that lets wired devices join a wireless network. A switch selects between bridge and AP modes, which can make the initial configuration easier.

As a bridge/access point, the DAP-1522 is not intended to replace a router. It does not include the firewall and network address translation functionality necessary to securely connect a network to the Internet. Rather, it is meant to bridge existing networks. As such, it is also less expensive than a router.

The DAP-1522 includes four gigabit Ethernet ports, a pinhole reset button, a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button, and a nice set of status LEDs that always make it clear which mode the device is operating in and what's connected to it. With the included wall-mount kit, the device can easily be mounted high on a wall, out of the way, and where it will provide maximum signal strength.

Connecting the unit is a simple matter of entering the pre-configured address into a browser and starting the configuration wizard. The wizard steps through all the necessary items to set up security and enable other devices to connect wirelessly. Documentation and on-line help are both good, explaining concepts as well as the more business-oriented features.

The DAP-1522 supports 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wireless N standards, which means that it supports 802.11 a, b, and g as well as n, the most recent and powerful version. In 802.11n mode, it delivers up to 300Mbps throughput when connected to another 802.11n device. In my testing, I was able to get to 145Mbps when connecting to a D-Link DIR-655 router at a distance of about 40 feet with several walls in between. With gigabit Ethernet wired ports, the DAP-1522 can support high speeds on wired links as well.

Support for WPS and WPS personal identification number (PIN) makes it a breeze to set up wireless connections. It's a matter of pushing a button on the 1522 and another on the other device (or clicking a virtual button in the configuration interface). As long as both buttons are pressed within two minutes, the two devices will find each other and connect securely, ensuring that unauthorized users can't snoop on the network.

The DAP-1522 offers a number of features especially well suited to a small business, including the ability to filter traffic by media access control (MAC) address; MAC cloning, which makes all devices on the network look like the same device to outside systems (for security purposes); a network time protocol (NTP) server; and rate limiting, which can limit traffic so one device won't use all available bandwidth. In addition to the ability to limit traffic by device, you can also set quality of service (QoS) priorities for different types of traffic so VoIP, for instance, will always get enough bandwidth to ensure good voice quality.

At a street price of around $75, the DAP-1522 lets you add Wireless N functionality or extend the range of an existing network for less than the cost of a second router. It offers excellent business-oriented features such as QoS and MAC address filtering, support for the full range of wireless protocols as well as 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11N, and an easy setup process. All in all, an excellent value and a solid performer.

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld. ]

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