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

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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.

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6.8 Overall
  • Setup 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7
  • Support 8

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.

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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.

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