D-Link Air Pro Wireless AP review: D-Link Air Pro Wireless AP

Compare These
4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Helpful setup videos; fast data throughput; affordable price.

The Bad Requires three-prong outlet; no wall-mounting hardware.

The Bottom Line The DWL-5000AP will get lots of points from users for its helpful setup videos and fast performance.

8.0 Overall

Updated 9/6/02

Editors' note:
D-Link recently changed its online warranty registration requirement. According to the new policy, you no longer need to register your product to activate the warranty.

D-Link's Air Pro DWL-5000AP 802.11a wireless access point deftly manages to appeal to novices without diluting its potency for more experienced users. The Air Pro combines a thoroughly documented setup process with fast performance, and it's affordable to boot. Updated 9/6/02

Editors' note:
D-Link recently changed its online warranty registration requirement. According to the new policy, you no longer need to register your product to activate the warranty.

D-Link's Air Pro DWL-5000AP 802.11a wireless access point deftly manages to appeal to novices without diluting its potency for more experienced users. The Air Pro combines a thoroughly documented setup process with fast performance, and it's affordable to boot.

First timers welcome
The DWL-5000AP's economical $339 price puts it within reach of most small-office and home users, and it caters to that largely novice audience with plenty of setup help. In addition to a printed manual and the quick-installation guide, a pair of CDs holds software and an electronic manual, plus a series of videos on how to install and configure the equipment. These videos are very helpful for first timers, but they are not OS specific, and they lack the depth that would aid the wireless veteran.

Only a few quirks mar this otherwise stylish and flexibly designed access point. We liked the four rubber feet, which snap onto the bottom or side edges of the unit so that it can stand vertically or horizontally. The pair of antennae at the rear of the unit can rotate 180 degrees to get the best reception. Unfortunately, the access point lacks wall-mounting hardware, so the unit's stuck on your desk or on the floor. And the power supply requires a three-prong plug to operate, which might make it awkward to use in buildings with older, ungrounded plugs.

Top-notch security
Once the D-Link is connected to a network, you can set up the access point in about five minutes using the Web-based Configuration Utility. The Configuration menu shows all the pertinent data, from SSID to IP addressing to WEP security. WEP comes turned off for configuration ease. Because it provides 64-, 128- or 152-bit protection--the best you can get these days--we strongly suggest setting appropriate security parameters right away. For those interested in details, the Advanced Configuration menu presents a variety of settings, including Transmission Strength and Data Speeds.

Fast and far
The DWL-5000AP performed well in CNET Labs' tests. Its 22.1Mbps throughput speed in Standard mode and 29.6Mbps in Turbo mode were faster than the SMC EZ Connect 802.11a wireless access point's speeds, but the D-Link couldn't keep up with the NetGear 802.11a wireless access point, which is currently the fastest we've tested. In Standard mode, the DWL-5000AP served up Web pages, MP3 audio, and MPEG video with a range slightly longer than 57 feet.

D-Link backs the DWL-5000AP with an excellent support policy. It includes a three-year warranty; free, 24/7, toll-free phone support for the life of the product; and a Web site rich with downloads, advice, and troubleshooting.

The DWL-5000AP is in many ways a laudable product. Its hand-holding setup should put novices at ease, and its fast throughput will be a boon to home and office users who want to transfer MP3s or other bandwidth-intensive files. But having to jump through hoops to get the product's warranty--especially when you've paid several hundred dollars for a key piece of networking equipment--is a drag.

Editor's note: This page has changed from our original version. Please see the corrections page.

Throughput tests
Measured in Mbps (longer bars indicate better performance)
Normal mode   
Turbo mode   
NetGear 802.11a wireless access point
23.2 
32.1 
Linksys WAP54A Instant wireless access point
21.6 
31.3 
D-Link Air Pro DWL-5000AP 802.11a wireless access point
22.1 
29.6 
SMC EZ Connect 802.11a wireless access point
20.9 
25.6 
 
Response time
Measured in milliseconds (shorter bars indicate better performance)
D-Link Air Pro DWL-5000AP 802.11a wireless access point
less than 1 
Linksys WAP54A Instant wireless access point
less than 1 
NetGear 802.11a wireless access point
1.0 
SMC EZ Connect 802.11a wireless access point
1.0 
 
How we tested
NetIQ's Chariot software measures response time down to the millisecond, but because the D-Link DWL-5000AP clocked in at less than one millisecond, we are unable to give an exact score.

For practical throughput tests, CNET Labs uses NetIQ's Chariot software as our benchmark. For our wireless testing, the clients and routers are set up to transmit at short ranges and maximum signal strength. CNET Labs' response time tests are also run with Chariot software using the TCP protocol. Response time measures how long it takes to send a request and receive a response over a network connection. Throughput and response time are probably the two most important indicators of user experience over a network.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Discuss D-Link Air Pro Wireless AP

Conversation powered by Livefyre