RealTime IT News

Buffalo AirStation 54Mbps Wireless CardBus

Model: WLI-CB-G54
Price: $99 MSRP
Rating: 3 out of 5

The WLI-CB-G54 is Buffalo Technology's companion network interface card (NIC) to their Buffalo AirStation G54 Wireless Broadband Router. Like most CardBus NICs, the WLI-CB-G54 is nondescript physically, though the smoked plastic (and translucent) antenna portion is a nice touch.

It with a Windows-based utility called Client Manager, used to configure the card, as well as perform basic configuration with the AirStation G54 router itself. The application is very minimalist in form and function, essentially consisting of a few pull-down menus from which you can perform basic tasks like finding and connecting to an access point, and configure WEP settings. Most other more technical WLAN settings must be accessed through the card's device driver Advanced tab.

If you don't mind running Client Manager all the time, it can also display pop-up messages concerning possible intrusion attempts experienced by the router. One other helpful bit of information it provides is a status line that constantly updates the signal strength percentage and the data transfer mode the card and access point are communicating at.

Installing the drivers and the Client Manager utility went without incident, but after rebooting I were unable to automatically acquire a signal from or connect to the AirStation G54 router. After several minutes of troubleshooting, I realized that the utility had been set by default to communicate with another NIC in ad-hoc mode.

After, switching to infrastructure mode and doing a scan of available networks, the AirStation G54 router/access point presented itself and I associated to it without any further difficulty.

The WLI-CB-G54 can function as a standard 802.11b device, and is Wi-Fi certified for that purpose. Connecting to a non-Buffalo access point required configuring a manual connection in the Client Manager, but after doing so I was able to connect it to a D-Link DWL-900AP+ 802.11b access point in 11Mbps mode, and with 128-bit WEP enabled as well. The Buffalo card, of course, could not take advantage of the enhanced 22 Mbps mode the D-Link offers.