Buffalo wireless kit with WHR3-G54 router

Kit consists of:

Buffalo WHR3-G54 router

Buffalo WLI2-PCI-G54S PCI adapter

Buffalo WLI-CB-G54S PC Card adapter

The main selling point of the Buffalo kit is AOSS (AirStation OneTouch Secure System), which allows you to configure client adapters securely by pressing a button on the router and a button in the client management utility, without having to fiddle with encryption parameters or hex pass keys. The system works well, giving you strong WPA encryption by default and making the setup process easy. However, it doesn't work with non-Buffalo adapters; if you have a non-Buffalo card, you'll need to go into the advanced base station settings to figure out what password and encryption settings to use, and this is not comprehensively covered in the manual. If a device on your wireless network doesn't support WPA encryption, you'll need to set all the AOSS devices to use WEP. So although AOSS is convenient, it may not be worthwhile unless all your devices are from Buffalo.

Beyond AOSS, the Buffalo has a simple but complete setup utility and all the usual firewall and routing features. Performance was excellent: With an average throughput of 27.6 mbps in our lab tests, it was by far the fastest kit. One reason for this speed is that the AOSS setup method uses WPA-AES encryption, where the wireless traffic is handled by an encryption chip built into the adapters and routers; most of the other devices use WPA-TKIP, where the encryption is done in software, which tends to be much slower.

But at $260, this kit is also the most expensive of the ones we looked at, and the range in our informal tests was below average--possibly due to the built-in antenna, which makes the unit hard to position for the best signal. However, there is a socket for attaching an external high-gain antenna, and adding one significantly improved performance.

The AOSS system is convenient for those with an all-Buffalo network, and the top performance and full firewall features make it an excellent (if a little expensive) overall package.

Becky Waring

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