Asante FriendlyNET FR1104-G 802.11g Wireless Router Review
The problem with wired networks are cables. If you have ever handled a medium sized network of just a dozen computers, then you know what I’m talking about. There are lots of wires dangling around and it is often hard to figure out where they are connected, especially when running cables through floors and walls and behind furniture. One way around the spaghetti is to make use of the increasingly popular approach of wireless networking. Wireless networking for consumers is in its second phase with the 802.11g standard offering a maximum throughput speed of 54Mbps.
Asante specializes in networking of all sorts and today I will be reviewing their FR1104-G wireless 802.11g router. Continue reading to see if this could be the solution for your needs.
Asante kindly supplied a review unit for us and the box arrived without any damages. The design of the package is simple yet well put together. The backside of the box describes the features and specifications of the wireless router. The product comes inside a securely wrapped corrugated box with the actual router slipped inside a plastic bag. Bundled with the FR1104-G are the wireless router, quick start manual, AC/DC adaptor, detachable antenna, CD with product manual, a network cable, and rubber feet.
The antenna Asante provides for the FR1104-G is of the RP-SMA connector type. This type of connector is very common in the wireless router world. The antenna is just a simple standard antenna featuring 4dBm of reaching power. The antenna is replaceable with a high-gain model and that is always a plus to have.
Specifications – (More located here via PDF format).
Network Security Settings
The Asante FR1104-G supports both 802.11b and 802.11g standards (11Mbps, 54Mbps respectively) and both can be used simultaneously. Among other features, this wireless router sports a firewall, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), 256-bit WEP encryption, stealth SSID and 802.1X RADIUS authentication, MAC filtering, and much more. You can be sure this wireless router will have everything you need to be secured from any threats.
The FR1104-G wireless router dresses a black and grayish color scheme. The metal body gives it a sturdy body. The decision by Asante to go with metal is a good one; remember, where there is a network there are people, and sooner or later someone is going to knock the router around. At my computer co-op placement somebody knocked over our wireless router; unfortunately, like many routers, its body was made of plastic. Unfortunately, the router was ruined – a metal-body router would have survived the fall.
The front of the FR1104-G has several easily accessible items. The reset feature is situated on the lower left. (By the way, in the event of problems, reset should only be used as a last choice measure because it loses all the security features you have enabled. In case of problems, it is best to disconnect the router and modem instead.) To the right comes the display LED’s for the wire-connected computers. The Asante supports wired functions and wireless functions. The wireless enabled LED sits to the right of the unit.
On top of the router is a sticker which spells out the features of the wireless router, the default password and http address to access the web configuration tool for the router.
The rear of the unit consists of the AC/DC adaptor plug connection followed by the four-wired LAN connections. Right next to those is the WAN connector for your cable or DSL modem. If you are going wireless you basically just connect to the WAN port and add your wireless adaptors to your desired computers.
Making everything work
For either wireless or wired connections or a combination of both, you use a web-based setup wizard that is very easy to understand and implement. The default address for this is router is 192.168.123.254. It is always wise to change the default password in an attempt to prevent any person snooping inside.
While this review focuses on the wireless capabilities, we hooked up the wired portion of the router and found out that it automatically connected our computers and shared the Internet connection without any additional effort. Pretty cool.
The web-based configuration environment has seven different titles, five of which having subcategories: Status; Setup Wizard; Basic Setting (primary setup, DHCP server, wireless, change password); Forwarding Rules (virtual server, special AP, miscellaneous); Security Setting (packet filters, domain filters, URL blocking, MAC control, miscellaneous); Advanced Setting (system time, system log, dynamic DNS, SNMP, routing, schedule rule); Toolbox (view log, firmware upgrade, backup setting, reset to default, reboot, miscellaneous).
Editor’s overall impressions
I was running the original firmware for a bit and then upgraded to 1.1. Effective March 14 th of 2005 I upgraded to the latest 1.2 firmware.
I have had the Asante FriendlyNET FR1104-G 802.11g wireless router for about three to four long months so take this as a long-term analysis review of the unit. The overall capabilities and feature set of the FR1104-G is something that will satisfy any needs. The unit supports 802.11b and 802.11g connections simultaneously, which means you could be running a computer with an older “b” type wireless adaptor and another with a newer “g” type wireless adaptor and they would not have problems with each other. However I did have problems with two computers running both “b” type adaptors for a few odd months until I gave one a “g” adaptor. With both a “b” type and a “g” type wireless adaptors running together there have been no problems. The problems with the two “b” type wireless adaptors running together were many. Usually they would crap out with a bad signal, though sometimes they would work. It was very frustrating. As noted above, replacing one of the “b” adaptors with a “g” has solved the problems.
The speed of this router is very fast and feels comparable to a direct connection with my cable modem. I am downloading on the average speed close to 200KB/s with speeds fairly constant.
There have been no significant problems. Very rarely the wireless connections will stop working for a while and then come back online. Sometimes I have to disconnect the router and modem for it to come back. I have no certain answer to why this rare event happens but I suspect it has something to do with the ISP end of the connection.
The range of the FR1104-G is very good. Right now I am typing this and am connected online at around 48-54Mbps (around 2-3 bars out of the possible 5 according to the Windows wireless configuration utility) from about an estimated 45-50m away from the access point that is blocked by many walls and such. The router is on the second floor and I am situated in the basement of a two-story 2000 sq-feet home. Mind you I am running most of the protection enabled (firewall, 128-bit WEP, MAC control filtering). Replacing the antenna with a high-gain antenna would most likely be a good idea if you want to have a stronger signal.
The other computer is running a “b” type wireless adaptor and is two rooms away from the router. It always maintains a perfect signal at the strongest signal.
The unit under day-to-day connectivity feels very warm, though not hot. Luckily there are small holes on the sides of the unit to dissipate the heat away from the unit.
The wireless PCI adaptors that are used with the Asante FR1104-G 802.11g wireless router are the Startech PCI511WB (review coming soon) and the ASUS WL-138g wireless PCI adaptors (b and g, respectively).
Other product images
My first couple of months with this router was somewhat agitating because it was giving me problems for no apparent reason. Things started to get better when I upgraded to the 1.1 firmware and replaced the wireless “b” adaptor with a “g” type adaptor. So I think I have found the perfect mix to work perfectly. I have no problem recommending the Asante FriendlyNET FR1104-G wireless router provided you upgrade the original 1.0 firmware with either the 1.1 or the latest 1.2 firmware. The Asante is durable, reliable, and speedy and has good wireless range.
Pros and Cons
A big thanks goes out to Asante for providing us the opportunity to review this product.