Adaptec Ultra Wireless Access Point

Model: AWN-8060
Price: $109.99
3 out of 5

If you’re like me, hearing the same Adaptec conjures up images of all things
SCSI. Of course, that’s the company’s first and best-known line of business,
but they’ve gotten involved in a number of other areas over the years, all of
them dealing data communication between computers or devices within a computer.

That being the case, it’s probably not a surprise that Adaptec offers a line
of wireless networking products too. The $109.99 AWN-8060 Ultra Wireless Access
Point is a straight-802.11b product– no 22 Mbps or 802.11g compatible modes

It goes without saying that WLAN devices are far from Adaptec’s main focus,
but you’re reminded of it as you set up the AWN-8060. Although the Adaptec’s
technical support knowledge base at
gets prominent mention in the documentation and in the software itself, there
are no references to any of the company’s WLAN products within the database.

Also, although the product has been out for nearly five months, there are no
firmware versions newer than the one that originally shipped with the unit.
The company also says it doesn’t plan to release an upgrade to support WPA,
but it doesn’t rule it out either.

Hopefully, these facts do not indicate a lack of attention by Adaptec to the
product line.

Of course practically speaking, in most situations you’re not likely to need
technical support for a product like this, and in an age when some vendors seem
to release a firmware update with each sunrise, stability in this regard is
not necessarily a negative.

The physical design on the AWN-8060 facilitates either desk or wall use, but
perhaps anticipating greater use in corporate environs, the unit is definitely
optimized for the latter. What surface of the unit is the front and which is
the back is somewhat a matter of perspective, but one thing that’s certain is
that unlike most WLAN access points, the AWN-8060 puts the antennae on one side
of the chassis and the LAN and power jacks on the opposite side. As mentioned,
this works ideally when wall mounting (antennae on the top, wiring on the bottom)
but it could make for a desktop cluttered with wires unless you keep the antennae
side facing front.

Getting started with the AWN-8060 requires the use of a Windows-based utility.
It doesn’t do much more than let you set the unit’s IP address and then launch
the browser on your behalf for further configuration. The major benefityou deploy
numerous access points, because you can view and configure them from one place
(though not en masse). The utility did successfully identify the AWN-8060 presence
on my LAN even though it was set to a different IP subnet by default.

Once you get to the Web-based interface, it presents itself in a clean and
organized fashion. It consists of a half-dozen administration screens encompassing
various basic and advanced configuration options. Via this interface, Adaptec
provides rudimentary security features like disabling the SSID beacon and filtering
access by the client’s MAC address.

A capability that is increasingly prevalent but that the AWN-8060 lacks is
the ability to turn off or reduce the power of the radio transmitter. The AWN-8060
also cannot function as a repeater or bridge device the way some others can.

Strangely, the Web interface lets you disable the ability to perform and upgrade
the unit firmware, but it does not provide a facility for actually doing the
upgrade itself. For that, you go back to the Windows-based utility.

Given that the AWN-8060 is a garden-variety 802.11b product, I didn’t expect
earth-shattering performance. I did get performance consistent with other products
in the category.

I tested the AWN-8060 against another Adaptec product; their AWN-8020 Ultra
Wireless USB Adapter connected to my test laptop. The resultant throughput reached
over 4.6 Mbps at close range, and it stayed right at that level all the way
to 100 feet. Only at 125 feet did the AWN-8060’s performance take a serious
hit, dropping by more than half to 1.86 Mbps.

The AWN-8060 is a solid product, if not a particularly distinctive or noteworthy
one. It does its job with a minimum of fanfare, delivering speed, easy setup,
and reasonable value, and if you need to set up a number of basic 802.11 access
points in an office environment, the AWN-8060 represents as good a choice as
any. On the other hand, due to a lack of advanced features and things like the
uncertainty of a WPA upgrade, the product’s long-term utility is less certain.

News Around the Web