A little background first, Certified for Windows Vista devices are designed to take full advantage of the advances in hardware and devices on the Windows Platform. Certified wireless routers, like the Buffalo Wireless-N Nfiniti, are required to work with Microsoft Windows Connect Now specification.
Windows Connect Now for Windows Vista and a Certified for Windows Vista router enables you to securely configure a wireless router with a minimal amount of work. The idea being that we have far too many unsecured wireless access points because consumers have little knowledge of what security is best because the different kinds are confusing. Should I use WEP, WPA, do I even need it? The other problem is that you typically have little idea of how to configure properly the router. Windows Vista, via Windows Connect now makes the process seamless and intuitive and doesn’t require the use of the typical web based interface of wireless routers.
The unconfigured wireless router will appear in the "add a wireless device to the network" dialog as an unconfigured device. Before you being the process you need to obtain the PIN number that ships with the wireless router. For the eval unit we were sent the PIN was on a sticker affixed to the box. This is required to setup the access point. After selecting the unconfigured router, you will be presented with a series of wizard dialogs that will allow you to choose an SSID and that will configure the router.
Buffalo Nfiniti Wireless-N – Initial Impressions
Before you even opened the box on this router you will notice its has a very unique design compared to those of its competitors. The antenna is not attached to the base but instead is attached by a short 6 inch or so wire from the base of the router. To me it looks allot like Darth Vader’s ship from Empire Strikes back… seen below. :D
While the antenna is unique and can serve to enhance your mounting options, I found myself wishing that the cable was interchangeable and came in different lengths to allow for greater mounting options for the antenna.
The Buffalo is a Draft-N router based on the 1.0 draft specifications and sports a built in Gigabit router. It has a web based interface for advanced configuration, and supports WPA2,WPA, and WEP. Complete feature set listed below.
* Designed to Draft 802.11n Standard Specifications
* Creates Draft 802.11n, 802.11g/b and 802.11a Wireless Networks
* Wireless Connections up to 300 Mbps*
* Great for High Speed Multimedia Streaming or Online Gaming
* External Switch to Change Between Router or Access Point
* Easy Setup with AirStation One-Touch Secure System (AOSS™)
* Supports WPA2, WPA (TKIP, AES) and 128/64-bit WEP Security
Router / Firewall
* Simple Web Browser Configuration
* Smart Router Feature Automatically Detects and Sets up your Cable or DSL Internet Connection
* Includes NAT/SPI Firewall and Intrusion Detector
* 4-port 10/100/1000 Auto-Sensing Gigabit Switch
* Built-in DHCP Server
* Optimized High Speed Routing, up to 10X Faster than Standard Routers
* Support for IPv6
* Microsoft® Windows® Vista™ Premium Certified
* Intel® Viiv™ Technology-Verified Router
* Supports Intel® Hub Connect Technology
* Works Seamlessly with Nintendo DS Wi-Fi Connection
I won’t be able to test the full capabilities because this router because it didn’t come with a draft-N network card, but I was able to do some side by side test with my existing Linksys G router with range boosting antennas.
The easiest to test for me to start with was the range. Draft-N boxes usually claim to offer a significant range advantage. The reality is these are like the old EPA ratings for mileage based on optimal conditions. I don’t know about you, but my house has walls and insulation with significantly impact any wireless performance in my house. Infact, I have several PC’s in my new home that are located just out or range of my current Linksys G box even though they are located just upstairs in my new home.
Immediately after setting up the Buffalo router I ran up stairs to see if the enhanced range would help these poorly connected PC’s. I was immediately seeing 3 bars worth of reception on these machine before doing anything else to my network. So, If you are having range problems with your existing G router this will get you some additional coverage through your house. I have walked down the road from my house and I certainly don’t see the 4x the range as the box proclaims, but again it is a noticeably stronger signal with better speed even with my existing G cards.
The speed question is one that is harder to answer. The N performance I am sure is better than what I get from my G cards, so keep that in mind. I wasn’t willing to spend a 100 bucks to get an N card when I can’t even use the full bandwidth of my 10mb broadband connection and I am rarely transferring significant sized files around my network via the wirelessly connected devices. I have seen similar file copy performance as my existing Linksys router, but with increased range.
The design of this device is good, but has some room for improvement. Specifically I would like to see the antenna attached via an interchangeable cable that could be purchased in differing links to allow me to place the base beneath my desk and the antenna mounted elsewhere. The web interface, if required, is as easy to use as those of my existing linksys box.
I have been seeing more reliable performance and greater range, but no where near the 4x claim on range. Perhaps an N card would make a difference here as well. Overall this has proved to be an easy to configure and use router with all the capabilities one would need and should serve to future proof all your wireless connectivity needs for a long time.