Buffalo AirStation Nfiniti Wireless-N

Summary: Flexible configuration is a plus for business use, but the AirStation Nfiniti Wireless-N is not the fastest Draft-N solution around and lacks interoperability.

  • Editors' rating:
    5.5
  • User rating:
  • RRP:
    GBP £70.00

Pros

  • Can be configured as a wireless router, access point or bridge
  • One-touch client setup

Cons

  • Lacks WPA-2 security and RADIUS authentication
  • Poor interoperability with other vendors' products

On paper, the Buffalo Nfiniti Wireless-N router and access point has a lot going for it. As the name suggests, for example, it can be used both as a router and as a standalone wireless access point. There’s even a physical selector switch on the base as well as the option of setting the mode in software.

It can also be configured to work as a wireless bridge, to effectively join networks together over Wi-Fi. Plus it features Buffalo’s AirStation One-Touch Secure System (AOSS) technology to simplify client setup -- just press the AOSS button at each end and all the settings, including security keys, are exchanged.

And finally, the Nfiniti Wireless-N uses the Broadcom Intensi-fi chipset to provide Draft 802.11n support as well as backwards compatibility to 802.11b/g.

Unfortunately Buffalo's Draft-N router also suffers a number of shortcomings. For example, although WEP and WPA security are both available, WPA-2 isn’t and there’s no option for external RADIUS authentication either. These features are due to be added, but the expected firmware upgrade has yet to be released.

We also found the web-based management interface cumbersome and some of the configuration options difficult to understand. The wireless settings, in particular, lacked clarity while the help provided is basic to say the least.

Physically, too, the Nfiniti is just plain awkward with its three antennae bunched together at the top so that it has to be perched precariously upright all the time.

On the plus side, it’s a very compact device with the usual complement of four 10/100Mbps switched Ethernet ports for LAN connectivity. A separate Ethernet connector is provided for the Internet with wizard driven auto-configuration. We also liked the removable side panel with, underneath, a label showing the factory default settings and instructions on resetting the unit.

Performance-wise, Buffalo's Draft-N solution was reasonably impressive as a matched pair. It couldn’t compete with Netgear's RangeMax Next, but it delivered very similar results to the Atheros-based Belkin, D-Link and Linksys products, both in terms of throughput and range. The Nfiniti Wireless-N also performed well when handling legacy 802.11b/g clients. However, as the only Broadcom-based solution we looked at, we weren’t altogether surprised by its poor showing in our Draft-N interoperability test: the best we got was around 30-40Mbps with the Atheros products, dropping to 802.11b rates when communicating with the Netgear RangeMax Next.

Topics: Reviews

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