NetGear ME101 Wireless Ethernet bridge review: NetGear ME101 Wireless Ethernet bridge

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.8
  • Design and ease of use: 7.0
  • Features: 6.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Service and support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Inexpensive; wall-mountable; rotating, removable antenna.

The Bad Lacks WPA support; currently requires firmware update for DHCP support.

The Bottom Line The ME101 is inexpensive, but a bridge with WPA security or 802.11g speed would be a better buy.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

Review summary

Designed to connect a game box or a similar Ethernet-enabled device to your 802.11b or 802.11g wireless network, the ME101 offers competent performance for a low price. Unfortunately, its lack of advanced security makes it less of a bargain, although we'd still recommend it over the pricier, slower Sony PCWA-DE30 wireless Ethernet converter . If you're building your network from scratch, go with 802.11g products with WPA security, such as the Linksys WET54G or the Buffalo WLA-G54 .

The ME101 is fairly easy to set up; using the foldout installation guide, which has helpful diagrams and a handful of troubleshooting tips, we got the device up and running within five minutes. The setup process installs the ME101 Configuration Utility from the included CD. The utility runs on Windows 98, Me, 2000, and XP; a comparable, browser-based interface is available for non-Windows users. The user guide on the included CD offers more detailed information on setup and operation. The box also includes an Ethernet crossover cable.

The ME101's handy small footprint, rotating antenna, and wall-mounting options allow you to place it just about anywhere in your home. It connects to any access point as a client and doesn't require any peering configuration, as does Buffalo's WLA-G54. However, you'll have to assign the ME101's IP address manually, because DHCP support is provided only via a firmware update. Computers or game boxes connected to the ME101, however, can get their IP addresses via DHCP regardless of the firmware version.

/sc/30485209-2-200-DT1.gif" width="200" height="150" border="0" />

The ME101's removable antenna makes it easy to increase the bridge's range.

The ME101 has some nice features for such an inexpensive bridge. Easy-to read-LEDs indicate power, WLAN activity, and LAN activity. A removable, rotating antenna is easy to adjust for optimal reception--or replace with a more powerful model.

While the ME101 may be adequate for users who simply want to connect their gaming console to the Internet, the bridge lacks features and security options that would be useful for other wireless networking purposes. For instance, the bridge's lack of DHCP and WPA support may make it difficult or impossible to integrate into some networks.

We were also disappointed that the Ethernet port requires a network crossover cable (one is included in the box) to connect to your PC or game box if you are not using a network hub or switch. We would have preferred an autosensing MDI/MDI-X Ethernet port so that standard straight-through cables would work with it. Additionally, with no automatic upgrade utility, users have to download all software and firmware updates manually from the Netgear Web site and install them using the ME101 Configuration Utility.

The ME101 provides decent performance compared to that of other 802.11b devices, with a maximum throughput of 5.2Mbps. This is adequate for Internet sharing, but users who are thirsty for more speed should seek devices that offer 802.11g support and 100Mbps Ethernet ports, such as the Linksys WET54G Wireless-G Ethernet bridge or the Buffalo AirStation WLA-G54 wireless bridge .

We were pleased to see that, boosted by its external rotating antenna, the ME101 performs better than average over distance. Our tests show that the ME101 provides near-peak performance out to 100 feet and doesn't drop off completely until close to 175 feet. This performance is on a par with that of the Sony PCWA-DE30 wireless Ethernet converter .

CNET Labs throughput tests  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Distance in feet  
Linksys WET54G
14.8 
Sony DE30
5.7 
Netgear ME101
5.2 

/i/co/wradapt/1021_NetgearME101.gif" width="388" height="310" border="0" />

Netgear offers a solid three-year warranty along with lifetime 24/7 toll-free phone support for the ME101. The Web site contains product updates and documentation downloads (we recommend downloading the updated firmware immediately to take advantage of DHCP), along with a useful, searchable knowledge base and contact information for e-mailing or calling technical support. Also, after installing some free downloadable software, registered Netgear customers have access to an online-learning tool, called Mentor.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

NetGear ME101 Wireless Ethernet bridge

Part Number: ME101
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Data Transfer Rate 11 Mbps
  • Connectivity Technology wireless
  • Interface (Bus) Type Ethernet