PC World's latest results on product reliability and service show "average" is the standard for Wi-Fi: The race to the bottom and commoditization of Wi-Fi consumer products are taking their toll. No Wi-Fi maker stood out as above average in any category of reliability that PC World put in front of its survey takers. In struggling to make equipment work in my daily reviewing, testing, and operations, I find reliability to be lacking. Gateways at home and work need to be regularly rebooted even with no configuration changes. Manuals are versions out of date (even in downloadable PDF form) and lack critical terms. Devices don't function quite as promised, but they do function.
A friend recently spent six hours wrestling one day with configuring two devices (an AP and a gateway) from a bestselling maker the name of which shall be withheld. Several hours into it, he checked the firmware. The mail-order firm, also reliable, had shipped him one unit with a 2003 firmware image. Upgrading firmware helped a bit, but the two-unit system kept crashing. Finally, he figured out one problem after a tech support call with a tired sub-continental woman who answered every question with, "Sure, why not?" Setting the AP to "wireless repeater" instead of "wireless client" resolved the problem. His investment? At least 10 hours total.
If you want to be depressed about the state of the electronics industry, read the overall scorecard: No winners in their desktop and wireless gateways category, and sometimes multiple losers on the other side of the equation.