3Com OfficeConnect Wireless Cable/DSL Gateway reviewed

3Com OfficeConnect Wireless 11g Cable/DSL Gateway

3Com OfficeConnect Wireless 11g Cable/DSL Gateway
Summary PRISM-based 11g router with basic feature set. Supports WPA
- Replaced by 3CRWE554G72T model with same features
Update None
Pros •Supports WPA
• High routing throughput
Cons • Mediocre wireless performance
• Limited wireless configurability
• Port forwarding & filtering not day/date schedulable

3Com's OfficeConnect Wireless 11g Cable/DSL Gateway is essentially an 802.11g version of 3Com's now-discontinued 11b-based OfficeConnect Wireless Cable/DSL Gateway. I found that it covered the essentials, but didn't have anything that separated it from the rest of its peers.

Basic Features and Construction

The OfficeConnect 11g is about the size of a slim hardcover book and has a plastic shell cover (with internal metal shield) that's mated to a metal bottom frame. It has all its indicators on the front (Alert, Power, WLAN, LAN Status and Cable/DSL), connectors on the back and screw-head mounting slots on the bottom for wall mounting. The dual dipole antennas are hard-wired, but movable in all directions.

The indicators are all combination Link/Activity and change color to indicate 10 or 100Mbps operation (except for the WLAN indicator). They're fairly small, though, and you pretty much have to view then straight-on to see what's going on. Both the WAN and LAN ports are 10/100 auto MDI / MDI-X, which willl figure out how to connect to whatever you plug in - whether you use a Normal or Crossover cable. Although there's no hardware reset switch, you can perform a reset-to-factory-defaults by powering off the router, plugging a normal UTP cable into the WAN and any LAN port and powering up. (First time I've seen this trick!)

Unlike its predecessor, which was based on the ADMtek 5106 Home Gateway Controller, the OfficeConnect 11g is based on GlobespanVirata's ISL3893 WiSOC (Wireless System-on-a-Chip). Figure 1 shows a very clean board design, with flash memory, RAM, ADMtek 6996 5 port 10/100 switch and PRISM GT-based 11g radio built right onto the main board.

Figure 1: Internal view

Both products are actually manufactured by Accton, which is the parent company of SMC Networks and which also OEM's some of Microsoft's wireless products.