A 40-page printed quick-start guide walks you through the Dell 4350 access point's setup routine. The booklet includes instructions in five different languages, which makes it a little bulkier than most quick-start guides. Unfortunately, the 7 pages in English offer scant information, accomplishing little more than instructing you to run the wizard software from the accompanying CD. Although the wizard does a good job helping you set up the access point (we had our unit up and running in less than 10 minutes), it also forces you to install software on your computer before you can view the HTML-based user guide, which is less thorough than other user guides we've seen. Advanced users may wish they had more technical information, such as detailed descriptions of the unit's Power over Ethernet (PoE) capabilities and the ability to connect directly to the device via a Web browser without having to install potentially unwanted software first. Unfortunately, the software lacks an uninstall utility.
For most basic networking scenarios, the 4350 access point will cover all the bases. You can use the access point's PoE to position the unit in hard-to-reach areas without electrical outlets, and a built-in mounting bracket on the unit's base makes it easy to affix the device to a wall or a ceiling. The unit is Wi-Fi certified and compatible with both 802.11g and 802.11b devices. The access point also supports all of today's standard encryption types, including WEP, WPA, and 802.1x, which allows you to use the unit in conjunction with a RADIUS server for industrial-strength security.
Though not the best-performing access point we've seen, the Dell 4350 delivered a respectable showing in CNET Labs tests. The 4350's 25.5Mbps lagged behind the D-Link DWL-2100AP's 44.4Mbps, but D-Link's access point achieves its fast throughput in a proprietary mode that works with only a select few of other D-Link devices. The 4350 access point doesn't perform so well when an 802.11b client is added to the network, kicking out a paltry 7.1Mbps.
|Throughput in Mbps|
|Throughput in Mbps|
Dell's service-and-support package for the 4350 access point comes in two flavors. You can opt for either one year of service with one year of tech support, or for an additional $20, you can buy three years of service with a corresponding three years of tech support. Either option pales in comparison to Belkin's lifetime-support offerings, but Dell's packages are on a par with offerings for most consumer-grade networking gear, which typically comes with service and support coverage that ranges from one to three years. Dell also offers support resources on its Web site, including FAQs and free downloadable firmware.