Ok, it's finally happened. A good friend of mine has succeeded in twisting my arm enough that I'm going to help her (pro bono) with a complete IT overhaul of her small office.
I'm comfortable with everything she wants to do that's within her budget. But I'm up in the air about WiFi. So I'd like to get opinions on a good quality but reasonably priced Wireless-N access point.
Here's what I'm looking for: better speed, good range, and reliable connections. Period.
It will be needed for two (maybe three max) light-to-moderate bandwidth users. Nobody will be doing online gaming or watching HD movies. Just the usual accessing of internal file/print servers and browsing the web.
And that's about it.
Since she already has servers I'm not interested in print or drive sharing features on the network device.
And since I've already done an industrial strength perimeter firewall (pfSense) for her, I'm not really interested in any router features the device may or may not have. That includes DHCP, VPN, port forwarding, bandwidth limiting, QoS, etc. Because none of that is going to get used. (The ability to set the device in "bridge mode" however would be a definite plus. Because that is how it will be used.)
All I care about is a good solid Wireless-N connection with decent range. (She has approximately 1800 square feet of space on two floors in a standard wood frame building.)
Ideally, I'd like a straight access point. But those have pretty much moved up into the "enterprise" end of the spectrum - both in price and capabilities. So I'm reluctantly realizing anything that's not going to be overkill (i.e. right-sized and affordable) for them will most likely be more along the lines of a consumer grade WAP/Router combo device.
I've looked at a lot of the "reviews" in various places up on the web. Most seem to either be a regurgitation of the product spec sheets or the rantings of the utterly clueless.
Enter the DonationCoder community...
My friend's budget is about $200-$250 for this piece of hardware since office WiFi is more a convenience than an absolute necessity. Her offices have at least two drops to every work area so they can always plug in if they have to. (Smartest investment she ever made IMHO. Hmm...I wonder who suggested that to her? ) So if push comes to shove, she's decided they can continue to live with the Wireless-G setup they presently have.
So...does anybody here feel serious love for any of the Wireless-N boxes out there in the $200-$250 range? Any input on dual-band boxes would also be appreciated. She's willing to budget for new adapters if there's a clear and demonstrable advantage to going over to the 5Ghz band right now.
Note: it is possible to set up pfSense to also act as an access point. But that's a bit of a hassle, and I'd rather have the flexibility of a separate 'radio box' I could more easily position in order to optimize wireless coverage. I also prefer to keep the firewall device locked up and out of sight for obvious reasons.