DWL-G710 Wireless Range Extender
Anyone who relies on wireless networking will be aware that the strength of a wireless signal varies wildly depending on how far you are from the base station and what stands between it and your Mac. If, for example, the walls are particularly thick, or there’s a metal structure, or large piece of furniture between you and the base station, you will see your signal fall to weak or non-existent.
Fortunately, D-Link has recognised this problem and come up with a device that promises to solve the problem. The DWL-G710 Wireless Range Extender is designed to extend the range of a wireless network, providing improved coverage across your home or office.
This is obviously an attractive prospect for wireless networking users. We were keen to get it up and running and put an end to the patchy coverage in the house, where we can only get a signal from the base station in a few specific locations. The short setup guide led us to believe this would be a simple device to get working, but this was definitely not the case. It took a long time and lots of fiddling to get it working – a far cry from the anticipated simplicity.
The root of the problem is that the documentation that comes with the DWL-G710 is confusing and fails to explain the setup procedure properly. The device comes with a default IP address to enable you to connect, and you have to give your Mac an IP address in the same range to allow you to set it up. Once you’ve run the setup wizard, you then have to allocate the device an address in the range of your existing network, while reverting your Mac to its original settings. This might sound straightforward, and it might have been if it had been explained in manual, but sadly it isn’t. We also found the setup wizard itself was unreliable and inconsistent.
Once the device was finally up and running it worked very well. It brought new locations within the range of the wireless base station that had previously been no-go areas. It works with a range of wireless networks including 802.11b and g, and supports WPA and WEP encryption.
While this is a clever device that solves a real problem for those using wireless networking at home or work, it is far from easy to use. Even experienced users will have trouble setting it up. The addition of a well written, easy-to-follow manual would make this product far more accessible. It would also transform it from rather an awkward device into a must-have for anyone suffering from a patchy wireless network. Jim Stapleton