Wireless live report

I just installed the Netgear wireless router I mentioned yesterday, and I’m roaming the house to check out the reception quality. The setup of the router was a no-brainer and took me about 15 minutes. For reference, here’s a schematic of the first floor, although where it says “cable modem here” is incorrect.

The router is installed in a sitting room that comes off the master bedroom, directly above the dining room which you see above — so basically in the front-center-top of the house. I have checked the “interference robustness” option in the Airport menu:

Picture 1-1
Anybody know what this is? Is there a tradeoff here between improved reception and greater battery use?

[Update: A little Googling goes a long way, I guess. We don’t have cordless phones, and we’re not using the microwave that often, so perhaps this option is unnecessary. But having it checked does seem to improve performance, and nobody out there seems to see any downside for checking it.]

Anyway, on to the other rooms in the house:

  • Master bedroom: Getting full reception, obviously.
  • Study/office: Getting full reception here too! That makes me happy, since obviously this is where I’ll be using the wireless connection most. With the “interference robustness” option unchecked, the reception is fluctuating between full and 3/4 reception.
  • Countertop/bar area in front of the kitchen sink: Again getting between full and 3/4 strength reception with the robustness option unchecked. The wisdom of operating a laptop directly in front of a sink is yet to be determined.
  • Dining room: No surprise — full strength. This is directly underneath the router.
  • Living room: Full strength here. Nice — now I can surf while Doodlebug and Peanut play.
  • Family room: Drops to 3/4 strength pretty consistently. With the robustness option checked, it goes back up to a solid full reception. Turning the TV on to see if there’s any interference issues…nope. Let me uncheck the robustness thing… nope again, still bouncing between 3/4 and full.

Now for the real test: The basement. The footprint of the basement is exactly the same as the house, minus the garage. The stairs to the basement are directly underneath the stairs you see in the floor plan. Here I go…

OK, I am sitting directly underneath the family room, where you see the measurement “16′ 0″” on the floor plan picture, and I am getting full strength. This is without the robustness option checked. Very nice. (We have a couple of couches set up around the (nonfunctional) treadmill and a small TV down here. If this reception keeps up, this location could become blogging central — very comfortable and quiet down here.

One last test — to the far corner of the basement, underneath the study. This is as far as you can get from the router inside the house. And… down to half strength reception. With the interference robustness option checked: Pretty consistent 3/4 strength. Of course this is academic, because the only thing over here is the sump pump — not exactly a prime web surfing location. But still, going down two floors and to the other side of the house and only getting a minimal drop in reception quality is pretty good.

I haven’t been doing any precise checking of the connection speed, but from down here in the basement zipping around to a few web sites, things seem to be just as quick as a wired connection. There may be some downgrade in speed but I’m not noticing it.

It’s chilly outside, otherwise I’d check the reception on the deck and the front porch. Both places have sitting areas. I suspect that if I’m getting 3/4-to-full reception in the basement, these places will be fine too. Overall I consider this a success. (And I saved about $80 over the Airport Extreme base station.)

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2 responses to “Wireless live report

  1. How do you not have a cordless phone? Where did you find a phone with a cord? I looked all over for one, for when the electricity goes out, but never could find one, not at Wal-Mart, not anywhere.

  2. We just have cell phones. We ditched the landline phones years ago — we were only using them for our internet access, which at the time was dialup only (!), and we already had cell phones. Once our area got broadband, we dropped Earthlink and our dialup and went with only our cells and broadband and saved $40 a month.