* Prices may differ from that shown
When I bought my newest computer, I decided to set up a mini network using the new computer as a host and then linking the old one via a crossover cable, which connected the two through their network cards. It was then that I realised that I only had one Ethernet port on the computer, which was already taken up by my cable modem. I was therefore faced with a choice, I could either buy a network card that would need to be fitted into my computer, or I could buy a USB to Ethernet adapter. Well seeing as I really didnt want to open up my brand new computer, I decided on the adapter, which wasnt really all that much more expensive.
---What you get---
The adapter comes supplied with an installation CD and instruction booklet, all securely packaged in an slightly oversized box. As this is powered by the USB port there are no power leads to worry about, and absolutely nothing to put together.
---What it looks like---
The adapter is very small, compact (about 2 x 3) and has a short USB lead that connects into a spare USB port on your computer. Mine is connected into the back of my computer and sits precariously on the top of the base unit. I do feel that a slightly longer lead would have meant that I could position it better. The top of the adapter features a little orange light that flashes when you have a connection, while the actual Ethernet port is on the front. I must, however say that it looks nothing like the picture above, in fact it looks far nicer.
I found it extremely easy to install this, it was simply a case of ensuring that the computer was switched off, and then plugging the USB end into the computer, before plugging my network cable into the Ethernet port. Once it was plugged in I simply switched my computer on and waited until the Add Hardware wizard popped up. Once the wizard had started, I put the supplied CD into my CD drive and let Windows install it automatically. This process took less than two minutes, and the adapter was ready to go.
Im currently using the adapter to connect to the internet via my cable modem, and it does a perfectly good job. There appears to be no drop in performance over using the internal card, and I regularly max out my 1MB connection. I have also used it when connecting two computers with a cross-over cable and found it perfectly adequate, in fact I will possibly be buying another to use with my sons laptop so that he too can access the internet.
Your computer does need to meet a few requirements for this to work properly, which are :
Windows 98 or above (I have Windows XP SP2)
Spare USB port
35MB free space
My own computer is well above these specifications.
This adapter comes with a life-time warranty and support, but I can't comment on how good it is, as I've never actually needed to use it.
I paid 20 pounds for this from Staples, but its also available on line with prices ranging from 16.34. In my local High Street, at least, this adapter was priced comparably to the Belkin internal Ethernet card.
This adapter works brilliantly and is an ideal way of adding an Ethernet port to your computer without actually having to open it up. I therefore found it convenient, seeing as Im not that keen on the idea of messing about inside my baby. Not only that but its portable, if I want to use it on a different computer, I simply need to unplug it from this one and then plug it in the new one (and install it).
I am therefore recommending this to anybody who wants to increase the networking power of their PC or notebook, but doesnt have the confidence to open the actual computer up. It may be the slightly more expensive option, but it is by far the simpler. If I can do it, anybody can.