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Features

The WET54G may just be the first product to use what looks like a new design for Linksys product enclosures. At about the size of a dual-CD "jewel case", the WET54G's enclosure is smaller than the version likely to be used for most of Linksys' routers and APs. But the design features are there, including the ability to sit both horizontally and vertically on a desk, ventilation slots that aren't blocked in either orientation, and wall-mounting slots cleverly integrated into both top and bottom of the case and hidden by removable silicone pads that also serve to keep the box from sliding around on a desk.

I liked the new package, which also felt substantial and able to take some knocking around without cracking open. Linksys even includes both a pair of "bridge stands" and wall-anchors, although, in my opinion, you could probably get along standing the box on end just fine without the "stands".

The Power, Ethernet Link/Activity and Wireless-G Link/Activity) are all on the front surface of the box, and single 10/100 BaseT Ethernet connector, Normal / Crossover and Reset-to-Factory-Defaults switches are all on the rear.

The supplied single dipole antenna uses a reverse SMA (RP-SMA) connector and is jointed so that it can swivel 360 degrees and lock in 45 and 90 degree positions. You should be able to orient the antenna as desired, no matter how you position or mount the box.

Tip TIP: The Normal / Crossover switch is a welcome inclusion, since it will ensure that you can connect to either a switch / hub port or an Ethernet client device without hunting around for a crossover cable. Just use a normal UTP cable, make sure the device you're connecting the WET54G to is powered up, connect the WET and device together, and move the switch (wait a few seconds between moves) until the LAN light comes on.

In a welcome change from the WET11, the WET54G is set up for Power Over Ethernet (POE). Although you'll have to supply your own POE adapter, there are ready-made products like the SMC Power Injector, or if you don't mind a little cutting and soldering you can roll your own.

The inclusion of POE is a welcome addition, since it makes it easy to put the WET54G in out-of-the-way locations. Since the WET11 became popular for quick-and-dirty building-to-building wireless bridging even without POE, the WET54G should make things even easier for that application.

For those unfamiliar with the difference between a "wireless Ethernet bridge", access point, wireless bridge, and other combinations of the words, "bridge", "wireless", and "Ethernet", I refer you to this part of my Wireless Bridging NTK. Although manufacturers have made a mess out of the terminology for this class of products and totally confused the average consumer, the important thing to note is that the WET54G cannot function as a standard Access Point. This means it doesn't allow connection of wireless clients that are operating in Infrastructure mode.

What the WET54G can do, is connect attached Ethernet clients to a regular access point or wireless router when you set it to Infrastructure mode. It can also wirelessly connect both to "normal" wireless clients and other WET54Gs (and WET11's) as long as it and everybody else is set to AdHoc mode.

Tip TIP: Although I couldn't find this info anywhere in Linksys' documentation, a check with Linksys revealed that the WET54G supports not just one, but up to 32 clients attached to its Ethernet connector.

In my testing, I was able to use two WETs in AdHoc mode to create a wireless bridge between two small Ethernet networks. The resulting network acted just like a single wired one, supporting Microsoft File and Printer Sharing and access to the Internet via my main router for multiple wired clients on both sides of the wireless WET-to-WET bridge. Note, however, that this setup is not the same as afforded by a normal access point, since AdHoc mode was in use.

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