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  A look at 802.11g, Compex and X-Micro 
  May 27, 2004, 12:00pm EDT 

X-Micro's WLAN 11g Broadband Router

By: Dan Mepham

X-Micro is a newer player in the wireless products arena, and this is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to explore one of their products. Thus far, we’re very pleased to report that their WLAN 11g Broadband Router is a strong product. The base features of the WLAN 11g Broadband Router are very similar to those of the NetPassage 26G – four 100Mbit LAN ports, fully configurable local and wide area networks, firewalls, and the list goes on. We won’t dwell on these for too long, as these are fairly standard features common to just about every Router out there.

X-Micro WLAN 11g Broadband Router

Fig 2. X-Micro's WLAN 11g, 802.11g broadband router.

We were a bit disappointed that X-Micro’s offering didn’t include print server capability. Nor does it offer the webcam capability of the NetPassage 26G, although that is admittedly much more of a niche feature, and not as likely to be missed as something more widely practical like a print server. The WLAN 11g offers X-Micro’s special "Super-G" Turbo Mode, which allows the available bandwidth to be increased when the link quality is sufficient, theoretically up to double the rated performance (108Mbps). During our use, we noted that the Turbo Mode did result in a definite reduction in large file transfer times.

Where we found X-Micro’s strength to be, though, was in the unit’s extremely capable firmware. Most Routers are generally fairly configurable, but we found that X-Micro’s firmware went above and beyond what most other units, including Compex’s, are capable of, which can be a very significant motivator for some users. For example, Compex’s unit offers the ability to use either a default MAC address for the WAN connection, or clone the address of a LAN device to which the Router is connected. X-Micro’s unit, on the other hand, allows the user to enter any MAC address desired. This feature alone saved us considerable time and a call to our ISP to have them release the MAC address of our other hardware. As another example, X-Micro’s unit allows adjustment of the wireless LAN parameters, such as antenna power, beacon intervals, etc. The firmware also offered a first set-up ‘Wizard’ feature which we found useful.

1. Introduction
2. 802.11g, a brief overview
3. Compex's NetPassage 26G
4. X-Micro's WLAN 11g Broadband Router
5. Accessories and performance
6. Summary
7. User interface screenshots

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