Getting a Wi-Fi signal to every corner of a home or office can be a nightmare. Zyxel’s WAP3205 is an access point that can also operate as a universal repeater in order to improve the range of a wireless network.
A universal repeater is a combined access point and wireless client – it connects to an existing wireless router just like an ordinary client, and then acts as an access point for other devices. The WAP3205 can also act as a WDS (wireless distribution service) repeater, although the universal repeater mode is much easier to use. In Client mode, the access point acts just like a wireless adapter for whichever device it’s connected to.
The WAP3205 is a 2.4GHZ 802.11n device, so you’re out of luck if you want to extend a 5GHz network. It has two external antennas at the rear (it’s a 2×2 MIMO device, capable of 300Mbps link speeds), along with two 10/100Mbps LAN ports and a WPS button. A row of green status lights on the top of the white plastic case display LAN, wireless and WPS activity.
Setting it up
The initial setup was a little confusing, as by default it is configured as an access point with DHCP disabled, so the PC needs to be manually assigned an IP address. Once done, the menu is fairly easy to use, if a little sluggish. There’s an EZ-123 wizard mode for configuring the basic operating mode (universal repeater, access point or client) and connecting to a wireless network.
The advanced settings give access to the other functions such as WDS repeater and bridge modes, and up to three separate network SSIDs can be enabled. Plenty of help and useful tutorials are available in the manual, but the wording is a little tortuous at times.
In access point mode, we measured throughput (using Passmark Advanced Network Test) at 1m of 40Mbps, and 15Mbps at 25m in a noisy domestic environment, which is fair but not exceptional. However, when in repeater mode, the effective wireless bandwidth is halved since it is relaying data between the clients and the router (this applies to any repeater). The only way to extend a wireless network without this effect is to use it as an access point connected via Ethernet to the router.
Contact: 0118 912 1700
- Works in several different modes; multiple SSID support; affordable.
- 2.4GHz only; manual has lots of detail but is less than clear in places.
Compared to other similarly-priced devices, the WAP3205 offers plenty of functionality and is good value. It may be a bit confusing to get up and running, but it’s flexible enough to be useful in most situations where a wireless network needs its range.