Wireless Bridges

What is a Wireless Bridge?

What is a Wireless Bridge?

Wireless BridgeA wireless bridge is a device used to join two physically separated wired networks. Generally one uses two wireless bridge devices, one on each side of the “bridge”, each connected to a separate wired network.

It is uncommon to find a device that can only operate as a wireless bridge. In most cases one finds devices that can operate as wireless access points, wireless repeaters or wireless bridges. The ZyXEL WAP3205 is one good example of one such multi-functional device. Some manufacturers, however, sell devices that can only function as bridges. Often such devices will have more straightforward setup procedures. One such dedicated bridge is the Cisco-Linksys WET610N Wireless-N Bridge.

Do I need a Wireless Bridge?

A wireless bridge is useful for a home or workplace with at least two independent LANs that need to be connected. Often the LANs can be far enough apart that an ethernet cable installation is inconvenient, but still within WiFi range of each other. In such cases a wireless bridge device connected to each LAN can bridge the gap and join the LANs together. In some cases though, for example if all the devices in one LAN have wireless capability, a wireless repeater may be an easier solution.

What to look for in a Wireless Bridge

The most important features to keep in mind when looking to buy a wireless bridge are compatibility, range and ease of setup:

  • Compatibility: The cutting edge in high-speed wireless connection is Wireless-N. Wireless-N has the capacity needed to support the heavy bandwidth use that modern digital technology is beginning to demand. It also boasts extended range compared to older standards. While it is important to obtain devices with Wireless-N support, providing for backwards compatibility is also crucial since not all computers and devices are compatible with Wireless-N technology. A wireless device with b/g/n compatibility is a good investment, helping to avoid compatibility issues at present while being prepared for the gradual shift towards Wireless-N. If using two wireless bridges, having both use Wireless-N will ensure that your bridged network runs as smoothly as possible.
  • Range: It is important to obtain devices with enough range to bridge the gap between the isolated LANs. Most current devices that can be used as a bridge have high ranges with multiple antennae – but it is always a good idea to look at some reviews to get a better idea of the range.
  • Setup: The ease of setup will depend on the type of device: a dedicated wireless bridge is likely to be easier to setup than a general-purpose wireless device.

A good source of technical information on wireless devices and modes is http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki.

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Best Wireless Bridge 2011

This list has the top 5 best-selling wireless bridge devices of 2011. The main source for this is Amazon.com’s list of bestsellers in this category. Each device (with one minor exception) has had its own review on this website. For more detail on any entry please feel free to read the full review.

  1. Diamond Multimedia 300Mbps 802.11n Wireless Range Extender (WR300N)
  2. The Diamond WR300N is a great cheap multi-mode device, which can serve as wireless bridge as well as a wireless access point and a wireless repeater. The biggest negative issue with this device is that it has only one Ethernet port. You can solve this by means of an Ethernet hub, but that could be cumbersome depending on your configuration.

    The WR300N is unique among this list in that it has a small size: it’s built to be directly plugged into a power socket, without a power cord. Since it’s small it’s also great for traveling: it could be used in a hotel room (or anywhere with an Ethernet port on the wall) to create a wireless network for devices that only have WiFi capability.
    Read full review »

  3. ZyXEL 300 Mbps Wireless N Access Point, Ethernet Client, Universal Repeater, and Range Extender (WAP3205)
  4. The ZyXEL WAP3205 is a decent standard multi-mode wireless device. One of its strong points is that it’s the least expensive device on the list, at around $50 USD. As a bridge, it’s a good solution for an office or home network that needs to join two physically separated networks to allow shared resources. As it has many modes, one can also use it as a repeater or access point in the future as networking needs change, saving on the cost of buying a new device.
    Read full review »

  5. Linksys WES610N 4-Port Dual-Band N Entertainment Bridge
  6. The WES610N is the only dedicated bridge device that made this list. It’s a fairly high-end device, with good range and speeds, as well as four Ethernet ports. This is an ideal device for connecting living room devices (blu-ray player, gaming consoles, and so on) to the home’s network with a reliable, high-quality signal allowing for video streaming and other activities with high bandwidth consumption. Simply connect them all to a WES610N, connect another WES610N to the main router and set them to form a bridge.
    Read full review »

  7. D-Link DAP-1522 Xtreme 4-Port GigaBit Selectable Dual Band Draft 802.11n N Duo Wireless Bridge/Access Point
  8. The DAP-1522′s unique feature among this list is its dual-band support. This means that it can run both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wireless-N signals simultaneously. This allows each device connecting to the DAP-1522 to choose which signal to use – the best choice depends on compatibility, signal quality, etc (an article explaining the difference between the two frequencies is forthcoming). Apart from that, the device is fairly standard: 4 Ethernet ports, also supports access point mode, and backwards Wireless-G compatibility.
    Read full review »

  9. TP-Link TL-WA801ND 300 Mbps Wireless N Access Point
  10. The TL-WA801ND is the only device on the list that hasn’t been reviewed on wirelessbridges.org. However, the newer model along this line, the TL-WA901ND, has been reviewed. This device boasts plenty of modes and three external movable antennas. Its main downside, like the Diamond WR300N, is that it only has one Ethernet port and may need to be used with an Ethernet hub in some configurations.
    Read full review »

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D-Link DAP-1522 Review

D-Link DAP-1522

A great representative of the multi-mode wireless device family is the D-Link DAP-1522. This device can operate as an access point or as a wireless bridge, depending on your setup. A great feature this device has is that it can broadcast in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, allowing for each device to choose which band to connect with. This allows for bandwidth-heavy devices to connect using the faster 5GHz band, while older incompatible devices can use the 2.4GHz and be on the same network as all other devices.

Features:

  • g/n support
  • Modes: Wireless Access Point and Wireless Bridge
  • LAN: 4 Ethernet ports

Pros:

  • Dual-band broadcast allows more connectivity options
  • Plenty of Ethernet ports
  • Reasonable price for a dual-band device: list price of USD $119.99, with a massive 45% savings at the moment on amazon.com

Cons:

  • Some report having difficulties in setting the device up
  • The range is not as much as it could be, especially in the generally range-impaired 5GHz band

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Diamond Multimedia WR300N Review

Diamond Multimedia WR300NThe Diamond Multimedia WR300N is a highly popular multi-mode wireless device. While it appears to be marketed mainly as a repeater/extender-type device, it also has bridge and normal access point modes.

It has an uncommon feature among bridge-capable devices: it has a small, compact size, making it easy to place anywhere in the house. It plugs directly into a wall socket, lowering the amount of messy cables crowding the office area. This feature also makes it great for travel – imagine being in a hotel room that has an ethernet port, but your device only supports wireless networking. Connecting this device up to the port would allow you to quickly setup a wireless network in the room for your convenience (of course, this would be using it on access point mode and not bridge mode, but it’s good to know your device can have multiple uses like this one).

Features:

  • b/g/n support
  • Modes: Wireless Bridge, Wireless Range Extender (or Repeater) and Wireless Access Point
  • LAN: 1 10/100 MBps Ethernet port

Pros:

  • Simple configuration
  • Super-portable with easy and functional deploymenty
  • Decent price: listed at USD $59.99 (find it on amazon)
  • Great range for a small device like this one

Cons:

  • It only has the one ethernet port – might be troublesome depending on how many wired devices you have and such. This is easily solved though by using it along with a cheap ethernet hub like this one

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TP-Link WL TL-WA901ND Review

Wireless BridgeAs far as multi-capable wireless access point devices go, the TP-Link WL TL-WA901ND is among the best. With a good variety of modes you can set it to, it should cover all your wireless routing needs – including, of course, wireless bridging. The best thing about this device is the three antennae it comes with, which screw into the outside frame of the router and provide good signal strength and long range. All this combined with its low price make this a very attractive option for your home or business networking needs.

Features:

  • b/g/n support
  • Settings: Access Point, Client, Multi-SSID, WDS Repeater, Universal Wireless Repeater and Wireless Bridge (point-to-point as well as point-to-multi-point)
  • One 10/100 MBps Ethernet connector
  • Three 4dBi external omni-directional antennae (detachable)

Pros:

  • Lots of available modes provide a great breadth of functionality
  • The three antennas give it good signal strength
  • Configuration is straighforward
  • Low price for a device with this many functions (the list price is USD $54.67 – but the best deal is at amazon)

Cons:

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Linksys WES610N Review

Wireless BridgeThe Linksys WES610N is a wireless bridge device, sister to the Linksys WET610N device. It is designed to link up wired-ethernet-only digital devices like game consoles or blu-ray players with existing wireless networks. This device can also be used to get two separated ethernet networks to talk to each other: one connects one of these devices to each wired network and gets them to form a bridge. Its main attraction is its array of four ethernet ports, offering more device connectivity than most dedicated wireless bridge devices.

Features:

  • b/g/n support
  • High speed 300Mbps connection
  • LAN: Four 10/100Mbps Ethernet RJ-45 connectors
  • Multiple antennas

Pros:

  • Easy CD wizard-assisted setup
  • Three antennas will give good wireless coverage
  • High-quality device: uses QoS traffic prioritization to improve online gaming and video streaming experience
  • Has four Ethernet ports, which is its difference from the Linksys WET610N. For multiple wired devices to be connected, this is the better choice between the two.

Cons:

  • Not the cheapest bridge-capable device available – the Linksys name and reputation makes it worthwhile though

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Linksys WET610N Review

Wireless BridgeThe Linksys WET610N is a dedicated bridge device. It is perfect for connecting a wired device (like a DVD or Blu-ray player, or a game console or desktop computer with no wireless card) to a wireless network, or for bridging together two physically separated wired networks. Its key selling point is its ease of setup (the CD wizard makes everything painless) and its broad compatibility.

Features:

  • b/g/n support
  • High speed 300Mbps connection
  • LAN: One 10/100Mbps Ethernet RJ-45 connector
  • Multiple antennas

Pros:

  • Easy setup with wizard (as most dedicated bridge or repeater devices tend to have)
  • Good wireless coverage with three antennas
  • High-quality device, with lots of compatibility and QoS (Quality of Service) traffic prioritization to prevent streaming video stutter and gaming lag

Cons:

  • Somewhat on the pricey side – you pay for the Linksys name and reputation
  • Only one Ethernet port may not be enough if you’re trying to connect multiple wired devices. You could use a cheap Ethernet hub (such as the TRENDnet TE100-S5 5-Port Ethernet Switch) to amend this. Another option is to instead purchase the Linksys WES610N, which has the same features but boasts 4 Ethernet ports.

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Zyxel WAP3205 Review

Wireless BridgeThe Zyxel WAP3205 is a great multifunctional wireless networking tool, usable not only as a wireless bridge, but for pretty much any configuration you could require. Its main selling points are its multiple functionality (with plenty of bonus features) and low price. With the 300Mbps transfer rate the wireless connection should be seamless, minimizing video streaming jitters, gaming lag and dropped calls.

Features:

  • b/g/n support
  • Five modes: Access Point, Wireless Client, Wireless Bridge, WDS Repeater and Universal Repeater
  • Wireless Security: 64/128 bit WEP, WPA/WPA2
  • LAN: Two 10/100Mbps Ethernet RJ-45 connectors with auto MDI/MDIX support
  • Two 2dBi external removable antennas
  • Multiple SSIDs, allowing for separate levels of access (Secured and Guest)

Pros:

  • Lots of functionality, with multiple wireless modes: Access Point, Wireless Client, Wireless Bridge, WDS Repeater and Universal
  • Good wireless coverage
  • Comparatively low price (the list price is USD $59.99, with the best deal at amazon)

Cons:

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