The other quirk is with the drivers. For those who donâ€™t know this, routers do not require drivers. However, that didn't stop KCorp from putting a driver link for the router on the supplied CD. You follow this link and it goes nowhere. To your casual user this is only going to cause needless confusion and most likely provoke a costly call to tech support to ask if they have a defective CD.
At this point, nothing would thrill me more than being able to tell you the KLS-575 flew through all our tests and redeemed itself. Sadly, it didnâ€™t.
Testing the KLS-575 with 58MB and 350MB files (the size of your average album and TV show) at a distance of two metres from the router with firstly the laptop card and then the PCI card produced speeds of just under 7Mbits/sec on average - the album taking 70 then 72 seconds and the video (an AVI file) taking 415 and 417 seconds with the PC Card and PCI card respectively. This is well under the rates we have come to expect from an 802.11g rated device, which will typically work at rates of between 13 and 19Mbits/sec. We even used KCorpâ€™s own utility to measure the signal strengths of the respective desktop and laptop cards finding our Link Quality to be 95 per cent and the Signal Strength to be rated at 93 per cent.
Things got worse when we moved our wireless computers one floor away from the router. Using the laptop card, rates dropped to between 5.7 and 6.4Mbits/sec while the Link Quality and Signal Strength held firm at 80 per cent. The PCI card, despite its external antenna, saw its Link Quality and Signal Strength drop off to just 66 per cent and 76 per cent respectively and transfer rates for the MP3 album dropped to under 4.6Mbits/sec while the AVI was only slightly quicker at 5.4Mbits/sec. Securing the signal with 128bit WEP encryption dropped rates by roughly 10 per cent. This proportion of drop off is acceptable, even if the original rates arenâ€™t.
If there was some consolation in the results, it is that the laptop card held its signal strength as well as any 802.11g rated device I have seen, which may be important to those of you who donâ€™t require the fastest file transfer rates and are working on a budget. But more worrying was the drop off seen by the PCI card.
All of which means that I cannot recommend this router or the cards to those of you who want to join the wonderful world of wireless. In its favour, it may be cheaper than most, but only by around Â£10 or Â£15 which is small compensation considering the poor wireless performance.
I am always one to go for a bargain, but when low cost sacrifices decent manuals and acceptable performance, that is not a price worth paying.
KCorp does offer a â€œgoldâ€ version of this router called the KLG-575, which uses technology it dubs â€œSuper Gâ€ to double the 802.11g standard to a maximum of 108Mbits/sec. As we have seen, wireless speeds donâ€™t actually get near these theoretical maximums, but retailing at just under Â£80 it is closer to the rivals this router was meant to challenge and if performance increases even 30 per cent, it would present a more shrewd purchase.