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Buffalo AirStation WLA-G54 review: Buffalo AirStation WLA-G54

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MSRP: $159.00

The Good Supports both 802.11b and 802.11g; excellent encryption and authentication options; WDS (bridge) support for up to six units.

The Bad Limited mounting options; complete but terse user guide; hard-to-see LEDs.

The Bottom Line The WLA-G54 is a good performer with solid features and security, and it's the easiest way to expand a wireless network. But its full feature set works only with other Buffalo products.

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7.6 Overall
  • Setup 7
  • Features 9
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

Review summary

A single wireless router or access point can't always cover every room in a house. The Buffalo WLA-G54 wireless bridge gives you a plethora of features and options for expanding your home or office network without stringing cable. It includes a four-port switch for wired clients, and it supports both 802.11b and 802.11g standards. Because it's externally identical to the Buffalo AirStation 54Mbps wireless broadband router we've previously reviewed, it suffers from the same flaws, including limited mounting options and hard-to-see LEDs for the four-port switch.

The Buffalo WLA-G54 installs easily to a wired network, but connecting it to another Buffalo AirStation to create a bridge is harder than it should be. When you start the initial configuration, you can designate either a wired or wireless connection; the quick-setup guide has decent instructions for both. In either case, you have the option of connecting to the WLA-G54 via the Client Manager software included on the CD-ROM or a browser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape.

Once you've connected a computer to the WLA-G54, you're ready to integrate it into your network by assigning IP addresses and the ESS-ID and configuring security options. The browser-based configuration tool includes wizards for WEP settings and MAC address restrictions, plus an advanced-configuration page that gives you direct access to all of your options.

If you use the WLA-G54 to create a wireless bridge to another Buffalo AirStation, you must register the MAC address of each Buffalo access point, router, or bridge on your network under the WDS section of the configuration screen. The terse documentation fails to cover this process thoroughly.

The Buffalo WLA-G54 wireless bridge distinguishes itself from other bridges, such as the Linksys WET54G, with its Wireless Distribution System (WDS) support. This lets the WLA-G54 act as a wireless repeater with up to six Buffalo WDS-enabled AirStations, such as the Buffalo AirStation router on a single network, making it an ideal solution for large houses or apartment buildings. Because WDS is not a standard, however, it doesn't work with non-Buffalo products.

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