Someone must have decreed that a cable/DSL router looks best in an anonymous dark green or basic black. But in its own nondescript way, the Compaq iPaq Connection Point CP-2W wireless broadband gateway is a thing of beauty, sporting all the features that a home- or small-office network needs. In addition to feeding your broadband ISP connection to the computers on your network, the CP-2W has a four-port 10/100 Fast Ethernet switch, an 802.11b (Wi-Fi) wireless base station, good security, and easy customization via a Web-based interface. Someone must have decreed that a cable/DSL router looks best in an anonymous dark green or basic black. But in its own nondescript way, the Compaq iPaq Connection Point CP-2W wireless broadband gateway is a thing of beauty, sporting all the features that a home- or small-office network needs. In addition to feeding your broadband ISP connection to the computers on your network, the CP-2W has a four-port 10/100 Fast Ethernet switch, an 802.11b (Wi-Fi) wireless base station, good security, and easy customization via a Web-based interface.
Printed documentation is becoming rarer, so we were pleased to see a genuine 90-page user guide accompany the CP-2W's Getting Started poster. Best of all, the instruction material is well illustrated and easy to digest. After we attached our computers to each of the four available Ethernet ports and hooked up one end of the CP-2W to our cable modem, we had no difficulty getting things up and running on our small home network. (The CP-2W comes with one Ethernet cable to get you started.) The included CD-ROM contains a firmware update utility, as well as an online user guide and product-registration information.
Setting up a wireless network using the CP-2W is just as easy. The $230 wireless gateway supports the 802.11b standard and can communicate with notebook and desktop computers over radio waves within a 300-foot range at speeds up to 11Mbps. Of course, your range will vary depending on the number of walls, ceilings, and other objects present in your home or office. Also, remember that you'll need to install and configure a wireless-network adapter in each computer you plan to network.
Once you get everything connected, it takes just a few minutes to configure the CP-2W using the Web-based configuration tool. Simply type cp.home into the address bar of your Web browser and follow the onscreen instructions. From here, you can also view system information, configure advanced settings, and troubleshoot your network.
How fast is fast?
In CNET Labs' tests, the CP-2W performed very well. At 4.4Mbps, its wireless throughput matched that of the Proxim Skyline 802.11b wireless broadband gateway and beat the D-Link DI-714 wireless broadband router. The CP-2W handled Ethernet networking ably as well; at 88.9Mbps, it fell just a few percentage points behind the D-Link, which clocked 92.3Mbps. However, the differences are negligible unless you are transferring lots of big files.
The CP-2W's built-in NAT firewall also rose to the occasion. When we ran a series of Web-based tests from Gibson Research Corporation, the port-probing utilities were absolutely unable to find the IP addresses of any of the computers on our network. For wireless connections, the CP-2W supports 64- or 128-bit WEP encryption. It also has other features you'd expect from a router of this class, including packet filtering; MAC-address recognition; and support for VPN (virtual private networking), DMZ (demilitarized zone), and virtual-server settings.
Average warranty and support
The CP-2W comes with a strictly average one-year parts and labor warranty. Toll-free technical support is available 24/7 during the warranty period, though, and Compaq's Web site is a rich resource for support information and software updates.
The Compaq iPaq Connection Point CP-2W is easy to set up and comes with plenty of supporting documentation. It also combines good performance with a full feature set, making it an attractive solution for a small home or office network.
Measured in Mbps (longer bars indicate better performance)
How we tested
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.