We tested the scanning capabilities by taking the 429UF for a walk round a large two-story office building. As we moved through it the device picked up all wireless access points in range that were broadcasting their SSID. As with the AG-225H the range of the 429UF is around the same as for a wireless PC Card so you should be able to log on to any identified AP.
For installation there’s nothing to do if you’re just after the storage features. To test the 429UF we plugged it into a Supermicro 3.2GHz Pentium D workstation running Windows XP where the Flash memory was automatically identified and appeared in Explorer as a removable disk. We particularly liked the fact that a small partition in the Flash memory is configured to emulate a write-protected 20MB USB CD-ROM drive with all the manuals, utilities and device drivers on it. With AutoPlay activated the wireless client installation utility automatically starts from the CD-ROM drive. However, due to the size of the device it wouldn’t plug fully into the PC’s USB ports as it fouled the front casing panel and we had to use the extender cable. You’ll also find this will happen on many notebooks as well. Using the open source Iometer utility we tested both read and write performance and found the quoted speeds to be reasonable with it confirming 9MB/sec for read operations but a slower 6.2MB/sec for write operations.
Installing the wireless client software and drivers only takes a few moments and we found the client to be very similar to ZyXEL’s with the only omission being the Access Point option. The client can run a full site survey and list all available APs where you can select them and create connection profiles. As with the AG-225H, wireless security support is particularly good as you can choose from 64/128-bit WEP plus WPA-PSK and the latest WPA2-PSK. From the Network screen you can keep an eye on the SSID of the AP you’re connected to, whether Infrastructure or Ad Hoc modes are in use, the signal strength and general network IP settings.
Taking ZyXEL’s AG-225H product and adding a healthy 512MB of Flash storage makes the TRENDnet HotFlash TEW-429UF a highly desirable and versatile tool for mobile workers. Its wireless locator functions are extremely useful and the lack of wireless AP functions isn’t a drawback at all.