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From our lab test results it looks like MIMO (multiple in multiple out) technology is not only giving wireless networks a big boost in the speed stakes but much better coverage as well. We were well impressed by Netgear’s gaudy RangeMax WPN824 and Belkin’s craftily named Pre-N and in this review we take a look at Buffalo Technology’s first MIMO wireless router to see how it stacks up against the competition.
Design has never been one of Buffalo’s fortes, so be under no illusions – the AirStation MIMO is not a pretty sight. The chunky, boxy chassis with its ugly ventilation slots lacks the sleek lines of a Belkin and the flare of a NetGear and also feels more flimsy. The three aerials at the rear are also less sturdy and cannot be removed so will be of no use in environments where external high-gain aerials are required to extend the wireless range in line of sight connections. That said the AirStation does offer a good set of features for the price as along with MIMO support you get a four-port Fast Ethernet switch and 802.11b and g wireless operations while security features extend to an integral NAT/SPI firewall, wireless encryption, intrusion detection and packet filtering options.
Setup is easy enough but bear in mind that the router requires an external ADSL or cable modem and uses a standard RJ-45 Ethernet WAN port for connection to the device. In its simplest from the router’s WAN port is designed to take an IP address and DNS information from your modem’s DHCP server and pass it onto the clients on the LAN. The basic web interface opens with a couple of quick start buttons for automatically configuring your ADSL or cable modem link and we used an intelligent ActionTec ADSL modem to good effect. In fact, the router worked fine on our test business network as we connected it directly to our LAN where it accepted an IP address from our gateway and proceeded to provide Internet access to all connected clients.