Wireless networking is commonly seen in a large number of homes and offices across the world today, and a wireless access point is a device that improves the functionality of such a network. The primary function of an access point is to provide Internet access to a large number of computing devices that fall within a fixed radius, and to enable smooth data transfer to and from the connected device. Many people often get confused between a wireless router and an access point, but the fact of the matter is that both these devices work hand in hand to provide wireless Internet access.
In most cases, a wireless access point is synced with a wired router. The router manages the data flow and the access point provides access to multiple devices in the vicinity, either through a Wi-Fi connection or a Bluetooth connection. This enables multiple machines to log on to the connection individually, and then interact with each other or access the web as separate entities with their unique IP addresses. Access points are widely used today in homes, offices, hostels, educational institutions, hospitals, coffee shops and plenty of other places as well.
Reviews of Wireless Access Points
The best ones are typically provided by Apple, Asus, Belkin, Cisco, D-Link, Intel, LG and NetGear, but there are many other brands that are affordable in the market as well. There are several different price ranges as well, so you can actually pick a point that suits your requirements and fits into your budget at the same time.
Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station - $199
This access point works seamlessly with all Apple products, so if you own an iMac, or a Mac, or an iPhone, or an iPad or an iPod Touch, you will be able to connect these devices through this access point. The device is compatible with Windows OS as well, so there are no compatibility issues. Apple products tend to be a bit on the pricey side though, so whether you actually pick this access point or not is completely your choice. However, it is compliant with 802.11 b/n/a/g networks, so there will be very few problems with this device.
NetGear WG302 - $169
This access point by NetGear also has flash storage of 8MB on it and it offers data transfer rates up to 54 Mbps. It only supports 802.11 b/g networks though, so its usage can be a little limited. Network security is managed well with this access point since it incorporates WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security. This is a good choice for people who use a large number of devices on their access points, but who also know that all these devices will not be running on higher wireless bandwidths.
D-Link DWL2100AP - $99
This particular device has received some great comments, and many experts claim that it is simply the fastest access point (with speeds as high as 100 Mbps) that they have come across. The price is pretty economical as well, but the only downside is the complicated setup that is required. If you are not accustomed to these devices and networks, then this is probably an access point that you need to stay away from. All kinds of wireless networks are supported though, so this is definitely an option worth exploring in detail.
Linksys WAP54G - $99
This access point by Linksys is a good choice for someone who is looking to upgrade existing device since it supports all wireless networks. The data transfer speed offered is 54 Mbps and multiple devices working on different operating systems can make use of the connection offered. Linksys typically offers reliable networking devices and this particular access point is no different. You will get assured throughput and an easy setup process and easy to install drivers, so anyone can get around setting this access pint up.
Cisco Small Business WAP4410N Wireless-N - $169
As the name suggests, this particular access point is ideal for small businesses, where a lot of devices will be simultaneously logging on wirelessly to one single connection. Access points for small businesses also require good security features, and this is easily enforceable on this access point. Data transfer rate runs up to as much as 100 Mbps, the device functions on 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies and it also supports 802.11 b/g/n/a wireless connections.
These reviews should prove useful to anyone who is either looking to buy an access point for the first time, or someone who is thinking about upgrading from their old access point. Irrespective of the facility where you will be using the access point and the number of machines that will be connecting to the device, you will definitely find an access point that will meet all your requirements.