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Michael Brown May 19, 2010

D-Link DAP-1522 Wireless Bridge/AP

At A Glance

Wireless Bridge

Dual-band 802.11n; dual function (wireless bridge and wireless access point).

Bridge to Nowhere

Relatively slow TCP/IP throughput for an 802.11n device; expensive.

D-Link’s DAP-1522 demonstrates the danger of shopping for a product based on its specs. On paper, this combination bridge/access point sounds as though it could solve just about any wireless coverage problem you might have. In reality, it’s a one-trick pony

It’s a dual-band device, meaning it has one radio that operates on the 2.4GHz band and a second radio that runs on the 5GHz band. It’s outfitted with an 802.11n Draft 2.0 chipset, so it should deliver very good throughput speeds (it’s backward compatible with 802.11g networks). And it can be configured as either a wireless bridge or a wireless access point.

As a wireless bridge, the DAP-1522 is designed to connect wired Ethernet devices, such as an Xbox 360 or your cable-TV set-top box, to your wireless router. You plug your wired devices into the bridge, and the bridge establishes a wireless connection to your router. But the DAP-1522 doesn’t have any external antennas, so it delivers extremely poor range; in fact, D-Link advices against placing the device inside a cabinet or closet. But that’s exactly where many people’s gaming console and set-top boxes are going to be located.

Fans of real-world testing that we are, we decided to test the DAP-1522’s wireless bridge capabilities by putting inside our entertainment center anyway; after all, that’s where the gear we needed to connect to our network is located. Sure enough, the bridge couldn’t establish a connection with either of the radios in our dual-band 802.11n router while it was in there. And it couldn’t establish a connection until we moved the bridge into the middle of the room; even then, it managed TCP/IP throughput of just 4.5Mb/sec, which is completely inadequate for streaming video.

The DAP-1522 performed a little better as a wireless access point. In this mode, it must be hardwired to an Ethernet network using one of the device’s four gigabit Ethernet ports; the three remaining ports then act as a switch. The device delivered wireless TCP/IP throughput of 19.2 Mb/sec at close range (10 feet with no walls separating the AP and our wireless client), 14.9 Mb/sec at with the client 18 feet away and with one wall in between, and 12.7 Mb/sec with the client 30 feet away and with two walls in between.

So if you need a wireless bridge to enable wired clients to connect to your wireless network, we recommend steering clear of the DAP-1522. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in adding a wireless access point and a gigabit switch to a room that’s hardwired to your network, the DAP-1522 is worth a look.

But we also recommend that you examine Trendnet’s much cheaper TEW-637AP. It’s not a wireless bridge, and it lacks several access-point features that the DAP-1522 offers (the TEW-637AP operates only on the 2.4GHz band, and it doesn’t have an integrated switch), but Trendnet’s device is street-priced $60 lower than D-Link’s.

THE VERDICT

D-Link DAP-1522 Wireless Bridge/AP

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