RealTime IT News

Mitsumi Wavit11 Wireless LAN Access Point

Model: DWL-J
Price: $129.99
Rating: 3 out of 5

When you think of Mitsumi Electronics -- if you think of them at all -- your thoughts probably turn to minor peripherals like keyboards, mice, and floppy drives, perhaps to CD-ROM drives. The company would like you to know that it is now a purveyor of wireless products as well. Their first effort: the Wavit11 Wireless LAN Access Point.

The $129.99 Wavit 11 is an exceedingly small device. Measuring 1.2x2.5x3.5 (HWD, in inches), it's even smaller than the SMC 2670W bridge. As if to underscore the small theme, even the included CD is the miniaturized 3-inch version. Out of the Wavit11's grey chassis protrudes a short purple antenna, which can rotate 180 degrees but is fixed to the unit.

Despite the Wavit11's Lilliputian size and toy-like appearance, it's a fairly flexible little device. In addition to functioning as a standard 802.11b access point, it can also operate as a wireless Ethernet adapter (bridge-type) to connect a device with an Ethernet port to a WLAN, and if you pair two Wavit11 units together they can bridge between wired networks. The unit supports up to 128-bit WEP, but Mitsumi told me that there are no plans to provide an upgrade to Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) for this product.

The Wavit11's 10 Mbps LAN port is not switchable, but Mitsumi does include both straight through and crossover CAT5 cables -- they even label each with a little plastic collar so you can tell them apart without having to squint into the receptacle to look at the tiny colored wires. Unfortunately, the aforementioned cables are a mere 12 inches long, so you will very likely need to switch to longer cords, depending on how you deploy the unit and how far it is from whatever it is plugging into.

One strange problem I had was that the unit's AC adapter would not latch into any power outlet I plugged it into. Rather, it slid in and out almost effortlessly, which I can see this being a potential problem as the unit could be easily be accidentally pulled from an outlet.

Even though the Wavit11 lacks a setup wizard and it inconveniently defaults to ad-hoc mode, setting up the unit was not difficult using the included configuration utility. The software is far from elegant, and some of the language used is odd, implying a hasty and imprecise translation from a language other than English (the manual is much better). Still, it's clear enough to be intuitive.

Unfortunately, browser-based access is not available, nor are features like MAC filtering to control WLAN client access.

I was able to successfully use the Wavit11 as a wireless bridge, but for performance testing, I configured the unit as an access point and tested it against a notebook using a D-Link AirPlus DWL-650+ CardBus adapter.

The performance was reasonably good, and certainly commensurate with what you would expect from a decent 802.11b product. Throughput at 10 feet was 4.63 Mbps, and it stayed in roughly this neighborhood all the way to 100 feet, at which point it still managed 4.50 Mbps. Only at 125 feet did the performance drop significantly, to a still respectable 2.25 Mbps. As is often the case with modern WLAN products, there was no WEP penalty in terms of performance.

The Wavit is undoubtedly competent, compact, flexible, and fast, and if your needs are basic, it does the job. I'd like to recommend it based on these characteristics, but the lack of a Web-based interface and things like MAC filtering and WPA upgradeability gives me pause. Plus, at $129.99 MSRP, the unit isn't really any less expensive than competitive products with the features this lacks, so in many cases you might be better served by another product.