experchange > mac.comm

Fred Moore (12-04-12, 04:27 AM)
(I write this from my padded cell in The iPad Addiction Recovery
Facility, Intensive Care Ward. Got my new iPad4 3 days ago. My wife had
me committed after the first 24 hours with the device. Prognosis not
good.)

I, of course, want to use my iPad with my home wireless network. And it
does work, except it could be better. The first problem is that my
current wireless router is 802.11b/g. It's been a good router (a
Belkin), but I want to move up to N. I'd like to have the faster data
transfer as well as dual networks and guest network access. Second, I
live in an older house with very solid walls. They're 7/8" thick plaster
over cement and lath. They really kill the signal from the current
router. So, I need a router with high output. I have Googled a fair bit
and can't find any good output or range comparisons. I can't believe no
one has done this, but I can't find them.

I'm prepared to pay up to $200 if necessary (I hope less) to get
something really good. I have heavily researched Amazon's reviews of
various Gigabit ethernet N routers and am getting more and more confused
by the 1-star reviews. How can a router which so many people give 4 or 5
stars, have other people giving the same device 1 star because they are
getting exactly the opposite experience ('Oh, great range.' 'No,
terrible range' etc.)?

I was inclined toward the Apple Airport Extreme because I had heard it
had good range. Then I read a few reviews where users directly
contradicted other high-rated reviews. How can this be? Yes, I know
there's always someone who will pan even the best product, but can that
really explain it?

I also had some concern about the Extreme's seeming lack of
configurability. Apple evidently removed port forwarding, QoS, and other
items from user control. Is that really true? However, some non-Apple
routers are fully configurable but may not to work well with Macs
(according to some complaints).

So what have you folks experienced? There are highly rated wireless N
routers from all the usuals: Asus, Belkin, D-Link, Linksys, as well as
others on Amazon. Any solid recommendations which sort out the confusion
will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

(Ya can take ma life, but ya canna take ma iPad!) :-D
AnimalMagic (12-04-12, 05:45 AM)
On Mon, 03 Dec 2012 21:27:04 -0500, Fred Moore <fmoore> wrote:

>They're 7/8" thick plaster
>over cement and lath.


Oh, joy!

In my post wire days, we hated doing the downtown Cincinnati area
because the buildings were mostly lath walls.

You might do better to hang the thing on the phone pole out front, and
let the hooks connect through the front windows. :-) (or out back).
easier to pass through glass than concrete.

You can turn off your SSID broadcast too, so folks won't be trying to
hit it. Have to watch out for theft though at that point. Hang a router
AND a webcam!
Lewis (12-04-12, 02:47 PM)
In message <fmoore-9A9DB4.21270303122012>
Fred Moore <fmoore> wrote:
> (I write this from my padded cell in The iPad Addiction Recovery
> Facility, Intensive Care Ward. Got my new iPad4 3 days ago. My wife had
> me committed after the first 24 hours with the device. Prognosis not
> good.)


> I, of course, want to use my iPad with my home wireless network. And it
> does work, except it could be better. The first problem is that my
> current wireless router is 802.11b/g. It's been a good router (a
> Belkin), but I want to move up to N. I'd like to have the faster data
> transfer as well as dual networks and guest network access. Second, I
> live in an older house with very solid walls. They're 7/8" thick plaster
> over cement and lath. They really kill the signal from the current
> router. So, I need a router with high output. I have Googled a fair bit
> and can't find any good output or range comparisons. I can't believe no
> one has done this, but I can't find them.


I can't comment on the plaster and lathe and cement, but the WNDR3700v3
I have covers a 3200sqft house very well. I get occasional wifi issue in
the far extremes of the house, but only occasional and usually only when
streaming HD video.

<http://www.amazon.com/NETGEAR-Wireless-Router-Gigabit-WNDR3700/dp/B002HWRJY4/>

There is a newer version (the wndr3800) but I have no direct experience with it.

<http://www.amazon.com/Netgear-WNDR3800-Premium-Gigabit-Wireless/dp/B0058NN6CS/>

Reading the description, this is probably the one I would buy if I were
buying one right now.
David Stone (12-04-12, 04:14 PM)
In article <slrnkbrs6h.arb.g.kreme>,
Lewis <g.kreme> wrote:

> In message <fmoore-9A9DB4.21270303122012>
> Fred Moore <fmoore> wrote:
> I can't comment on the plaster and lathe and cement, but the WNDR3700v3
> I have covers a 3200sqft house very well. I get occasional wifi issue in
> the far extremes of the house, but only occasional and usually only when
> streaming HD video.


I'm using an Apple Extreme, which is in the front basement. Good
reception through the entire house up to the rear second-floor
bedroom through lathe and plaster walls (no cement in mine though -
or are you referring to the "mud" layer below the finish plaster?)
Front-to-back floor-plan distance would be about 60 feet or so?

The only time I've had a problem was when my wife stacked some
metal tins and a spindle of CD-RWs on top (it's currently sitting
on the back of my desk).

Apple changed the available configuration options in Airport Utility,
but that doesn't affect me too much since I run it in bridge mode and
leave the other stuff to my modem/router on the wired portion of my
home network.
DaveC (12-04-12, 07:32 PM)
The FCC (radio emissions regulator here in the USA) specifies a maximum
signal power for all WiFi devices. Period. No manufacturer can exceed this.
So you're not going to see one device with more power than another. But
output power is not the end-all factor that separates the good from the bad.
Radio communications is one of those engineering arts that borders on voodoo.
Some gifted engineers get it right while the others turn out crap.

Re. the reviews, each person's ability to configure such devices is
different. One may overlook an important setting that another person can deal
with. (Supporting a network is a challenge that is beyond the abilities of
most users, IMO...) Or one household may have a microwave oven or cordless
phone that interferes with WiFi, or neighboring WiFi routers that are using
the same channels which will cause problems. Many possibilities.

My suggestion: find a retailer that has a no-questions-asked return policy
and buy it and try it. Buy a couple of competitive models at once. You may
pay a little more than from a discount house but you'll be satisfied in the
end if you can test-drive them.

Good luck.
DaveC (12-04-12, 07:36 PM)
> Re. the reviews, each person's ability to configure such devices is
> different.


Also, look at the *average* review rating. If 100 people are satisfied and 10
are not, I'd say that is a product worth trying out.

Cheers.
you (12-04-12, 09:23 PM)
In article
<0001HW.CCE3739C01B89CEFB04179BF>,
DaveC <invalid> wrote:

> The FCC (radio emissions regulator here in the USA) specifies a maximum
> signal power for all WiFi devices. Period. No manufacturer can exceed this.
> So you're not going to see one device with more power than another.


Well not quite..... ALL 801.X Devices use the 2.4 Ghz Band and some also
have the 5.0 Ghz Band, which are part of the CFR48Part15 Regulations of
the FCC. The FCC only allows Devices to be sold that comply with the
Technical Requirements of Part 15. The Output Power is specified in ERP.
(Effective Radiated Power) This is Output Powder * Antenna Gain. There
are MANY units that comply by having Higher Output Power and less
Antenna Gain. With these units, one can increase ERP, by replacing the
Antenna, with one with MORE Gain. Part 15 states that any antenna that
is "User Removable" MUST use an RF Connector, that is NOT Generally
available to the General Public. (Reverse Gender or Reverse Thread) So
as to make such an Antenna Upgrade much harder. Many of these
connectors, or Gain Antennas, come with the appropriate Connectors
already attached, thus making the FCC's Regulation, mute. I use a One
Watt Buffalo WHR-HP-G54 802.11b/g AP with a 20db Panel Antenna, to
extend my LAN, 3 miles down the beach to my cabin. I have a second
duplicate AP on the other end. RSL is above 50db on each end. It can be
done, All it takes is MONEY, and a few Smarts.....
David Stone (12-05-12, 04:17 PM)
In article
<0001HW.CCE374B501B8DEB6B02919BF>,
DaveC <invalid> wrote:

> > Re. the reviews, each person's ability to configure such devices is
> > different.

> Also, look at the *average* review rating. If 100 people are satisfied and 10
> are not, I'd say that is a product worth trying out.


Then again, if there are <10 reviews total, ignore the average...
Fred Moore (12-05-12, 09:14 PM)
In article <slrnkbrs6h.arb.g.kreme>,
Lewis <g.kreme> wrote:

[..]
> />
> Reading the description, this is probably the one I would buy if I were
> buying one right now.


Based on your suggestions, I've found the NETGEAR N900 Dual Band Gigabit
(WNDR4500) Wireless Router
<
44V0/ref=sr_1_138?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1354664632& sr=1-138&keywords=
wireless+router>, which seems like the unit just above the ones you
mention.

Its big extras (scroll down the Amazon page for a feature comparison
chart) for me are the 'Best' signal strength, the ReadyShare options,
and the Time Machine compatibility.

However, the 18% 1-star reviews of 541 gives me pause. The chief
complaint is poor reliability and poor service/support. On the other
side, 71% gave it a 4- or 5-star rating. Barring any dissuasion by you
folks, this will likely be my choice.

Thanks to all for your taking the time to help.
Fred Moore (12-05-12, 09:18 PM)
In article <you-0BCAD2.10230404122012>,
you <you> wrote:

[..]
> extend my LAN, 3 miles down the beach to my cabin. I have a second
> duplicate AP on the other end. RSL is above 50db on each end. It can be
> done, All it takes is MONEY, and a few Smarts.....


Are the add-on/replacement antennas usually worth it (provided you have
a unit which has changeable antennas)? Several of the stick antennas
look like just longer versions of what comes with the unit. I thought
length (not to be confused with placement) was only associated with
frequency, not power output, but then it's been a while since I had my
EE RF course.
Fred Moore (12-05-12, 09:27 PM)
In article <no.email-98F858.09143204122012>,
David Stone <no.email> wrote:

> I'm using an Apple Extreme, which is in the front basement. Good
> reception through the entire house up to the rear second-floor
> bedroom through lathe and plaster walls (no cement in mine though -
> or are you referring to the "mud" layer below the finish plaster?)


It's standard box-wall, 2x4 construction. The sheathing is 1/2" of
gypsum wallboard lath (just like wallboard only with 1" holes every foot
or so for the mud/cement/whatever to adhere to. On top of that is 1/4"
of very hard cementatious material with large sand aggregate. The top
1/8" is a skim coat of plaster. Total thickness 7/8".

The good news it's *very* sturdy and a great sound absorber. The bad
news is that it eats RF signals for snacks. But at least it's not stucco
with its steel mesh underlayment.
Jolly Roger (12-05-12, 09:30 PM)
In article <fmoore-9A9DB4.21270303122012>,
Fred Moore <fmoore> wrote:

> I was inclined toward the Apple Airport Extreme because I had heard it
> had good range. Then I read a few reviews where users directly
> contradicted other high-rated reviews. How can this be? Yes, I know
> there's always someone who will pan even the best product, but can that
> really explain it?


I've used Netgear, LinkSys, and Apple routers, and range is comparable.
I live in a building where my router is 100 or so feet away from the
furthest location where wireless access is needed, through multiple
walls. A while back, when I still had a Netgear, I decided I wanted
wireless coverage in the room furthest away from my router. The signal
was so weak in that room that clients regularly dropped off the network.
Adding a big external antenna to the Netgear helped, but did not fix,
the problem. I've since switched to a dual-band Apple Airport Extreme,
which got similar results - until I added another older model Airport
Extreme to extend my network coverage. Now clients never drop off the
network.

> I also had some concern about the Extreme's seeming lack of
> configurability. Apple evidently removed port forwarding, QoS, and other
> items from user control. Is that really true?


Not entirely, no. What Apple did was release a newer version of the
Airport Utility. That newer version was missing certain features. But
Apple still offers the previous version of Airport Utility for download,
and you can still use it to manage those features:

<http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1482?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US>

I use it all the time.

> However, some non-Apple
> routers are fully configurable but may not to work well with Macs
> (according to some complaints).


One thing I love about Apple routers is how much more user friendly
configuration is compared with the typical crappy, ill-designed
browser-based web page configuration facilities offered by most
companies.
Jolly Roger (12-05-12, 09:31 PM)
In article <fmoore-329478.14184705122012>,
Fred Moore <fmoore> wrote:

> In article <you-0BCAD2.10230404122012>,
> you <you> wrote:
> Are the add-on/replacement antennas usually worth it (provided you have
> a unit which has changeable antennas)? Several of the stick antennas
> look like just longer versions of what comes with the unit. I thought
> length (not to be confused with placement) was only associated with
> frequency, not power output, but then it's been a while since I had my
> EE RF course.


The one I bought for my Netgear certainly didn't give as much
improvement as I thought I'd get based on the price I paid for it.
nospam (12-05-12, 11:11 PM)
In article <fmoore-329478.14184705122012>,
Fred Moore <fmoore> wrote:

> Are the add-on/replacement antennas usually worth it (provided you have
> a unit which has changeable antennas)? Several of the stick antennas
> look like just longer versions of what comes with the unit. I thought
> length (not to be confused with placement) was only associated with
> frequency, not power output, but then it's been a while since I had my
> EE RF course.


antenna length is associated with frequency, however, they can be
quarter-wave, half-wave, etc. what matters is the gain of the antenna
and it's pattern (e.g., omnidirectional or focused in one direction).

however, the real problem is putting a better antenna on the base
station doesn't help with what the laptop is transmitting. you really
need a better antenna at both ends (or additional routers).
Suze (12-06-12, 03:40 PM)
In article <fmoore-329478.14184705122012>,
Fred Moore <fmoore> wrote:

> Are the add-on/replacement antennas usually worth it (provided you have
> a unit which has changeable antennas)? Several of the stick antennas
> look like just longer versions of what comes with the unit. I thought
> length (not to be confused with placement) was only associated with
> frequency, not power output, but then it's been a while since I had my
> EE RF course.


My experience using an old Linksys WRT-54G router and a Mac Mini (2009,
2.26 GHz w/Snow Leopard) in a 30-year old two-story home: My router was
mounted on a back outside wall in an end-of-the-house sunshine basement
room where my home office was located. I hard-line ethernet cabled to
the Linksys with my Mac Mini. However, due to my husband's illness, I
had to move my office upstairs to be close to him-- my new office was
vertically over the router, but one room over laterally. I connected
with the Linksys using the Mini's Airport Wifi antenna.

My Mac mini got deplorable 11% Wifi signal strength upstairs, which
after some reading about the Wifi tribulations of other Mini owners, I
attributed to the Mini's rather paltry omnidirectional antenna, coupled
with the interference from multiple networks in our neighborhood.
(Amazingly, I was also getting anywhere from 20-87% signal strength from
wifi's in 11 other homes in our neighborhood, while only getting 11%
from my own.) I tried moving the Mini around, tilting on its side, a
tinfoiled reflector for my router, and longer router antennas--all with
no real improvement in the Mini's signal strength.

I bought a Bear Extender (directional) antenna for the Mini along with
the Bear extender cable, which immediately bumped up my Mini's Linksys
reception to around 66%. Then I moved the Linksys router from the
exterior basement wall about 12 feet across the room to a central
location, near the middle hallway in my home. Now the Mini using the
directional Bear Extender antenna/cable gets a steady 94-100% Wifi
signal strength.

Note the Bear Extender does not use the Airport antenna at all, it's a
totally separate antenna system using its own software. Networking with
other computers on the Linksys works the same. (The Bear also offers an
upgrade antenna that is omnidirectional, however I chose the original
directional antenna because I wanted to aim my antenna directly at my
router to try to decrease outside network interference.)

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