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Posted: April 8, 2002
Written by: Davey McWatters
Asanté FriendlyNet FR3002AL
The small rectangular space you see in the router in the above picture is to insert a PCMCIA wireless networking adaptor. This is a great way of implementing wireless technology into a router. Instead of having to upgrade your entire router every time a new wireless technology standard comes out, you can simply insert a new PCMCIA adaptor saving you a few bucks. You can use any wireless standard with the router; the most common are 802.11a and 802.11b today.
When we start to see hybrid, a mix of 802.11b and 802.11a, wireless networking cards hit the market it will make the FR3002AL a step ahead of the rest of the networking solution manufacturers. Users will simply have to buy a new PCMCIA card and they can use 802.11a if they are in range, or if not it will automatically switch them over to 802.11b and the two standards will be able to communicate with each other.
The FR3002AL only contains 2 switched Ethernet ports. This can pose as a problem for people with more than two computers on a wired network. Most people will want their desktop machines on the wired network for its speed since they wont be moving desktops around very often. Notebooks, PDA’s, and other mobile devices will be used on the wireless network. You can always attach an extra hub/switch to the router with either an uplink port or a crossover cable. The only problem with that is it adds to the cost of the installation.
This particular router also has a built in print server. This is nice for people who only have one printer in their home and wish to share it between all of their computers. It allows you to connect the printer directly to the router instead of a computer. Without a print server you would have to leave your computer on all the time for others to be able to print, now all you have to leave on is your router.
The differences in the FR3002AL and the FR3004LC is the number of Ethernet ports, the FR3002AL doesn’t have a com port which means no 56K support, and of course the FR3002AL has wireless support. Both routers have a built in print server. Lack of 56K support isn’t too big of a deal, as most people won’t be using 56K modems with a router.
For the most part, installation of the FR3002AL was exactly the same as the FR3004LC. You can check out our FR3004LC review to get detailed description of most of the configuration options. The only difference is the Wireless tab in the routers configuration utility. It looks like the following:
The first option is for your Network ID, which is simply the network name. If you wish to have a single network you won’t need to change this option. However, if you want to have multiple unique networks with multiple routers you will need to give each router a unique name and channel. You can use any channel between 1 and 13 for your network.
The next group of settings is for your WEP, wired equivalent protocol, Security Settings. This allows you to make your network less susceptible to hackers. You have the option of using either 64 or 128 bit security. Most networks can operate with a 64bit security algorithm. You can enable up to 4 WEP Key’s, each must be unique, however. Your keys must be either a 10 or 26 digit decimal or hexadecimal number.