Setup and Admin
The 2870W's schizophrenic nature really becomes apparent when setting up the product. The setup confused me so much that I called SMC to get an explanation, which I'll now pass on.
Admin is supported via both a web-based interface and a Windows (98SE, Me, 2000, XP) application. The application finds the 2870W (which ships with a default IP address of 192.168.2.25), and allows you to configure some of its settings.
Figure 2: Setup application
It also - as Figure 2 shows - allows you to change the 2870W from its default Bridge mode to Access Point mode. This actually involves a firmware reload and device reboot, which the application takes care of using embedded firmware files. Unfortunately, this personality change resets the IP address to the default, which I found annoying.
If you run a non-Windows OS, or simply would rather use the web-based interface, you'll need to set your computer to an address in the 192.168.2.X subnet, then connect to the 2870W's default IP address.
Figure 3: Bridge mode Basic Settings, Web interface
(click on the image for a full-sized view)
Figure 3 shows the "Basic" settings page for the Bridge mode. Most of these are self-explanatory, but I think SMC could have cleaned things up a bit - get rid of the "000000000000" BSSID setting, gray out the channel setting in Infrastructure mode, etc.
If you want to switch modes via the Web interface, you'll need the appropriate firmware file on a local computer and then upload them from the Admin Settings page.
By the way, SMC explained that the reason for this firmware swap was due to limited memory in the 2870W. I guess they saved some money that way, but it remains to be seen whether customers will be ok with the trade-off.
The web-based interface is very responsive if you're using Internet Explorer. The going is very slow, however, if you use Mozilla or a recent version of Netscape based on the Mozilla engine.