Standard 802.11g wireless access points shouldn't be worthy of interest now that we're mere months away from seeing 802.11n specified devices. Even so, this half metal, half plastic box offers two key and compelling functions.
First, the unit is waterproof and weatherproof, which means you can attach this wireless access point to an outside wall. Second, it uses Power over Ethernet (PoE). As long as you have a PoE device to provide power to the Ethernet cable, you won't need a power point near to the access point in order to use it. We used a £28 PoE kit from US Robotics for testing.
The connector on top of the WAP54GPE - hidden under a black cap - takes an external Wi-Fi antenna for boosting coverage. The entry point for the supplied Ethernet cable is also watertight behind a screw fixing. The device is heavy at 1.14Kg. That's because the WAP54GPE's back is half metal. However, the reset switch is located under a watertight screw on the back.
This means you have to take the access point off the wall in order to reset it. The front of the access point is made of sturdy plastic. In fact, the casing has a National Electrical Manufacturer's Association (NEMA) rating, but it's not clear what NEMA standard it achieves, so we doused the WAP54GPE with water before bravely redeploying it.
But we found no ingress of water - the two halves have a watertight rubber seal between them. Fortunately for us, the unit does have a weatherproof rating of IP63, which means it should have no problem with standing weathering (Linksys also says it has no problem with temperatures as low as -20 degrees). The kit can also keep working in humidity of up to 95 per cent.
And, in case it fails to keep to such high standards, Linksys has supplied a three-year warranty. PoE and the hardy shell don't excuse the haughty price, especially when you consider a thoughtfullyplaced MIMO or forthcoming draft 802.11n kit will give you some outside range, too. If the very notion of this device still excites you then it's worth considering, but it's going to need some serious cost justification.