Hide in Plain Sight: HD introduces PoE-capable In-Wall AP

Wireless Access Points mounted on exposed ceilings or walls range from a tad obtrusive to downright ugly. But what if you could snuggle that AP inside your wall with minimal effort? The HD24613, an in-wall AP from HD Communications, can do just that.

Clean and simple

The HD24613 is a compact, CAT5-powered 802.11b/g AP, aimed at those who already have in-wall Ethernet jacks and wish to go wireless without pulling new cables, adding new power outlets, or mounting new APs.

HD in-wall Access Point

Instead, the HD24613 can be tucked into the single-gang utility box occupied by that old Ethernet jack. Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) can power the unit without requiring an AC outlet, while the faceplate RJ-45 port means you won’t have to sacrifice either the existing Ethernet jack or yet another upstream switch port.

“Hotels, motels, schools, hospitals, businesses, and homes can now replace their standard in-wall network jack with our new in-wall access point,” said Don Davis, President and CEO of HD Communications Corp. “There have been in-wall access points offered by others, but they are too big, too expensive, and often required additional proprietary equipment to use them. We just made it simple.”

The primary draw of the HD24613 is its low-profile, in-wall design. However, the HD24613 can also be used as an ordinary (albeit small) desktop or wall-mounted AP. For those without 802.3af-capable switches, the HD24613 can be powered by a nearby AC outlet, connected to the included PoE injector.

Behind the faceplate

The unit’s size (.875″ x 1.75″ x 2.625″) and ability to blend in will appeal to venues that value aesthetics (homes, hotels) and petty theft resistance (schools, public hotspots). But beauty is skin deep. What lies inside this little box?

The embedded 54 Mbps 802.11b/g radio can be configured to operate as an AP, a static WDS bridge, or a wireless client. That radio feeds a 10/100 Ethernet backhaul and can automatically reject associations if wired-side connectivity is lost. Configurable transmit power, auto-channel selection, and AP load balancing are helpful in dense installations. However, those looking for 802.11n or MIMO – or a centrally-managed “lightweight AP” — will not find those features here.

As for security, the HD24613 will satisfy many in the target market. Security features include WEP, TKIP, or AES encryption, WPA-Personal (PSK) or WPA-Enterprise (802.1X/EAP) authentication, MAC address filtering, and wireless client isolation. These settings can be tied to 4 separate SSIDs – for example, to support an open public WLAN and a WPA-secured private WLAN from one AP. But the user guide makes no mention of WPA2 or related 802.11i features (like PMK caching) that large enterprises look for today.

Bottom line

HD Communications plans to sell the HD24613 on-line for $199, shipping by the end of August. For comparison, that’s half the street price of the larger and more feature-rich Wi-Jack Duo 802.11a/b/g AP introduced by Ortronics last year. Or you could spend a bit less for Karo Technology’s strikingly-similar WEJ-11g (available with internal or external antennas.)

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