Last Fall, I got it into my head that I needed to upgrade my home network’s wireless access point (WAP). I’d been using an old, but trustworthy, Netgear WG602V2 since around 2001-2002, and while it worked, I was hoping to get something with a bit more range, that supported 802.11N and various newer features. I decided to try out the ZyXEL WAP3205.
The ZyXEL started out OK, although it did not seem like much of an upgrade over the Netgear. The range and data throughput weren’t noticeably better. The problems started after a few months, when I upgraded my Macbook Pro to Mountain Lion. When I woke my laptop from sleep mode, the wi-fi would no longer automatically re-connect. I had to manually re-join the network every time. A pain, but not a show stopper.
The next problem started when I began playing around with AirPlay/AirPrint, both of which use Apple’s Bonjour service, which uses multicasting. With the ZyXEL, Bonjour was flaky at best: sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I couldn’t figure out any rhyme or reason to it, other than that the WAP was definitely the culprit, as Bonjour services worked fine over wired connections.
I read on a web site somewhere that the latest firmware on the WAP3205 addressed some issues with Bonjour. I was skeptical, because the firmware release notes didn’t mention anything about Bonjour, but I went ahead and updated anyway. This turned out to be a disaster. Not only did the new firmware not fix the Bonjour issues, it also messed up the networking on the WAP somehow. After upgrading, the wired ethernet interface on the WAP started randomly freezing up. The wireless was still active, but the WAP stopped responding to pings. This happened a couple of times. Another time, the interface stayed up for several hours, then froze up my entire LAN. None of my wired devices could connect to anything else on the LAN. When I unplugged the WAP3205, LAN connectivity instantly came back. Word of warning to WAP3025 owners: don’t install firmware version 1.00(BFR.7)C0 (released November 2012). This is the version that caused the instability with the LAN interface. I’d recommend waiting until a newer firmware revision is released before updating. Caveat Emptor.
After the LAN freeze-up, I ditched the WAP3205 and went back to my old Netgear. With the Netgear, Bonjour works great, I’m able to use AirPlay/AirPrint without any issues, and when my laptop wakes from sleep, the wi-fi reconnects without any problems. The Netgear isn’t perfect, though. I’m not able to get AirPlay mirroring working. The mirroring starts up and works for a few seconds, but then it shuts itself off. I had the same issue with the ZyXEL, so I’m not sure if the WAP is to blame for this or not. Searching the net hasn’t turned up a good explanation for this behavior so far, but I’m going to keep looking for a fix.
In short: If you need a reliable wi-fi access point that works with Bonjour, stay away from the ZyXEL WAP3205!