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Review: Perfect Harmony: Page 4 of 17

The rest of the products are oriented toward single access point home and small-business applications. They all had similar feature sets and performance, and range didn't vary much. Of these products, we liked the SMC offering most and gave it our Best Value award. All these products have significant range limitations, meaning multiple access points must be installed in all but the smallest homes and offices.

Proxim Harmony 802.11a Access Point | Intermec technologies corp. MobileLAN Access 2106 | SMC Networks MC2755W wireless access point | NetGear HE102 802.11a wireless access point | Intel PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN Access Point |

Linksys WaP54A Instant Wireless 802.11a Access Point | Proxim Skyline

Proxim Harmony 802.11a Access Point

We consider Proxim's Harmony the most appropriate 11a access point for deployment in the enterprise. While performance in our tests was generally in line with that of most of the other products tested, the Harmony's transmission range far exceeded that of its rivals. Proxim's two-tier hardware architecture uses clusters of access points connected to APCs (Access Point Controllers). This design is unique in the WLAN industry and allows for centralized configuration and management of both 11a and hybrid 11a/11b/OpenAir networks while enhancing roaming capabilities. You'll pay considerably more for Harmony than you will for most of the other products reviewed, but if your responsibilities involve deployment of hundreds of access points, its superior management capabilities are worth the cost.

Installation of Harmony access points is a breeze. All management is coordinated by the APC, which connects multiple access points over standard Ethernet. We simply connected the access point and the APC to the same network, and the new access point showed up with its MAC address registered immediately in the APC management application. You can also manage access points that are on different subnets through a single APC. The APC's Web management interface is well-designed, with many features not found on lower-cost products. For example, Harmony includes an auto-image synchronization capability that lets a single APC automatically update access-point flash code when a new version is uploaded to the APC. This initially caused problems for us because our APC, which we had used in a previous review, contained some outdated access-point flash code. When the APC automatically pushed that code to new access points, they would no longer function. Proxim quickly resolved this issue with an upgrade to the latest access-point flash code from its Web site.

Proxim's Harmony supports most of the basic features you'd expect on an 11a access point. The APC stands alone in supporting default templates for configuring 802.11a, 802.11b and OpenAir access points. Managers have considerable control over network traffic. For example, you can direct the ability of specific wireless devices to communicate directly with one another. The APC includes protocol filters to restrict certain traffic, including broadcasts and multicasts, from being forwarded between wired and wireless networks.