31st Jul 2006 | 23:00

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

The cheapest of the go-faster options, but 802.11b problems let it down.


<p>Good range increase</p><p>Cheaper than the equivalents available</p><p>Built-in print server</p>


<p>Very much an interim solution</p><p>Poor for older 802.11b equipment</p><p>Now superseded</p>

When looking to bridge the gap between 802.11g and 802.11n, US Robotics decided to take a different route. Instead of opting for a MIMO chipset as favoured by Belkin, it chose to boost 802.11g and make it faster. This actually isn't new; companies have been doing this for some time. This kit simply makes better use of the bandwidth available from 802.11g.

Like all the majority of other kits available, it's backwards compatible with 802.11b and g, and proprietary wireless adaptors are available but some don't offer Mac compatibility. Handily, you can share a printer; there's a USB port for your printer on the rear of the device next to the Ethernet ports.

However - and this is especially important for owners of older 802.11b equipment MAXg isn't as adept at boosting aged 802.11b adaptors compared to the other technologies. The reason? It uses a single antenna. That standard requires two antennae for best performance. But for rangeboosting of 802.11g, MAXg will do the job for you. USR originally pitched MAXg as having a place in the market because it would cost less than MIMO equivalents. And it is, although not by much.

Set-up is fairly easy and intuitive, although in terms of security WPA encryption is selected almost by default. Wireless devices that cope with this standard aren't too common, though. If you're looking for a model to boost the range of your wireless network, this is probably it, though, of course, a market full of Draft-N models is already upon us. Dan Grabham

Broadband Computing Internet Networking Wi-Fi TRBC
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