CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide

Agere Systems Orinoco AP-200 access point review:

Agere Systems Orinoco AP-200 access point

  • 1
Compare These

The Good Fast 802.11b throughput; enhanced security and administration; two cables included.

The Bad High price; one-year warranty; only 30 days of free tech support.

The Bottom Line SOHO users might find the Orinoco's speed, easy setup, and high-end access attractive, but its high price and stingy tech support may leave you cold.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

The Orinoco AP-200 access point is the product of Agere Systems, a recent Lucent spin-off whose technologies ostensibly hail from the hallowed halls of Bell Labs. With that kind of pedigree, you'd expect a lot, and in terms of speed, the AP-200 does exceptionally well. It also offers filtering options that are uncommon among access points and may make the unit attractive to business users. But with a short warranty, for-pay tech support, and a high street price, you can do better. The Orinoco AP-200 access point is the product of Agere Systems, a recent Lucent spin-off whose technologies ostensibly hail from the hallowed halls of Bell Labs. With that kind of pedigree, you'd expect a lot, and in terms of speed, the AP-200 does exceptionally well. It also offers filtering options that are uncommon among access points and may make the unit attractive to business users. But with a short warranty, for-pay tech support, and a high street price, you can do better.

A node to remember
Shaped like a thick, upright ax blade studded with LEDs, the $199 ($150 street price) AP-200 looks sleek, but at more than eight inches tall, it's actually rather large for an access point. The gray and silver box has a pop-off base that hides two 10/100BaseT ports, a power connector, and a button that reloads your "last good" settings in the event of misconfiguration. Generously, the unit comes with one crossover cable and one straight-through cable--a nice touch. Plug one end of the crossover cable into the AP-200 and the other end into your computer's Ethernet port, then can configure the unit before you fire up wireless capability. The AP-200 has a rough edge here and there, including a poorly organized PDF manual and a language of LED status blinks that would take a cryptographer to decipher.

The Web-based setup wizard leads you logically through the install process, prompting you for the usual IP, subnet mask, and gateway info. You're encouraged to create an administrative password right away, and the PDF quick start guide pushes you to use 64- or 128-bit WEP encryption--good security advice. Like the Orinoco BG-2000 broadband gateway, the AP-200 also supports WEPplus, a proprietary security feature that works with Orinoco client adapters.

Fortunately, for those who worry about security, the AP-200 lets you filter clients by MAC address so that only the computers you specify are allowed access. Unusual in an access point, the Orinoco lets you also filter by port (e-mail, Telnet, FTP, and so on) and protocol. You even get Web, terminal, and SMTP-access tools, along with a status page of ICMP and IP data only an IT geek could love. Businesses that are reluctant to buy access points that lack router-class security and administration features will be pleased by these added features.

Top-notch performance
The AP-200 held up well in tests, posting a full 5Mbps rate, nearly the best raw 802.11b performance we've seen. You get the 11Mbps throughput claimed by 802.11b only if the access point and client are in close proximity. When you increase the distance and the number of dividing walls, performance for wireless devices inevitably suffer. The Orinoco also claims superior resistance to interference, although we saw no noticeable differences in our tests.

The AP-200's warranty and support are lacking. A one-year warranty is bad enough, but you also get just 30 days of free support, after which you must pay $25 per incident. Such limited availability isn't acceptable in this day and age. The company's Web site offers manuals, FAQs, and firmware updates.

Despite a few minor rough spots, the AP-200 is a class act. But since its street price is considerably higher and its support policies relatively weaker than those of similar models, you may want to look for a better deal.

Throughput tests
Measured in Mbps (longer bars indicate better performance)
D-Link AirPlus DWL-900AP+ (22Mbps mode)
5.9 
Agere Systems Orinoco AP-200
5.0 
D-Link AirPlus DWL-900AP+ (11Mbps mode)
4.7 
Belkin wireless network access point
4.7 
 
Response time
Measured in milliseconds (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Agere Systems Orinoco AP-200
3.0 
Belkin wireless network access point
2.0 
D-Link AirPlus DWL-900AP+ (11Mbps mode)
2.0 
 
How we tested
For practical-throughput tests, CNET Labs uses NetIQ's Chariot software as its benchmark. For wireless testing, the clients and access points are set up to transmit at short ranges and at maximum signal strength. CNET Labs' response-time tests are also run with Chariot software using the TCP protocol. Response time measures how long it takes to send a request and receive a response over a network connection. Throughput and response time are probably the two most important indicators of user experience over a network.

This week on CNET News

Discuss Agere Systems Orinoco AP-200 access...