HP ProCurve MSM410 WW Access Point review

Price when reviewed

HP’s new ProCurve MSM access points claim to offer SMBs a better alternative to lightweight APs by providing a far greater feature set. They can be used in autonomous mode or centrally managed via HP’s ProCurve MSM710 controller. Small businesses can start by deploying the APs in autonomous mode and, when ready, can add the controller, which offers features such as self-healing, guest access and roaming.

HP ProCurve MSM410 WW Access Point review

All the MSM APs operate in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums; the MSM410 supports draft 2 802.11n operations as well as 802.11abg. Its one Gigabit port supports 802.3af PoE. The MSM410 doesn’t have a secondary power source, so can only be used with an injector or a compliant switch.

The web interface is well designed; you can quickly reset the unit from its default controlled mode to autonomous. Next, secure administrative access and then head to wireless security as the AP defaults to open mode. There’s plenty to choose from since the MSM410 supports WEP and WPA/WPA2 encryption, RADIUS plus 802.1x port and MAC address-based authentication.

A key feature of HP’s wireless solution is the use of virtual APs, or VSCs (virtual service communities), which are used to store multiple configurations in the AP. Each VSC defines an SSID and associated parameters such as the authentication method, encryption and QoS settings. VSCs are easy to create, as all settings are accessed from a single page. Along with the SSID and security mode, you enter the number of clients the SSID will support and either block all traffic between them or only allow them to communicate if they’ve been 802.1x authenticated.

There are eight different QoS profiles available, and you can also decide which wireless data rates are supported. If you want clients on different VSCs to communicate then assign the same VLAN egress port number to them. This can be fine-tuned further by only allowing those authenticated via 802.1x to see each other.

We tested with a Vista PC and a D-Link draft-n USB stick. We initially couldn’t see our LAN systems, then realised the security filters in our VSC had defaulted to limiting wireless access only to the AP. With this disabled all access was opened up to our LAN, where we saw a copy of a 690MB video clip returning real-world speeds of 64Mbits/sec over a close range WPA2-encrypted link. We then moved the AP 35ft away, and saw speeds drop marginally by around 15%. Compared with the majority of standalone draft-n APs and routers, we found speeds to be similar but range to be slightly better.

With dual band and 802.11abg + draft-n support, the MSM410 has something for every wireless client. The VSCs make light work of configuration and you have the option to upgrade to a centrally managed wireless network at your leisure.

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