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If, like me, you have a computer somewhere that has not got a built in wireless adapter, meaning that you have always had to have it connected to the internet via the old fashioned Ethernet cable, then you'll know how annoying it is when you want to move the computer to a different room, realising that when you do you've either got to drill holes through the floor and walls in order to get the 50 metres of Ethernet extension cable from your router to your computer.
Well, when this happened to me, moving the old computer to another room, still wanting to be able to get it to connect to the internet, more for updating and basic surfing, I was preparing myself for the dubious work ahead, drill in hand, ready to take the 'ear-ache' from the wife about the mess that I'd made as I created many holes throughout the house.
Before I started up my drill I thought about a different approach, maybe using a wireless adapter of some kind so that the wife wouldn't bend my ear about the mouse holes running from the router to the computer.
So, a quick look online gave me some options. I could buy a 'card' type wireless adapter that would fit inside the computer, which would look good as it would not be visible at all. Or I could go for a cheaper and less hassle type of adapter in the form of an external wireless adapter that simply slots into a standard USB port.
I went for the latter, which in itself was a bit of an eye opener considering the vast choice of wireless adapters that are on the market these days, in the price range of a few quid to a wallet emptying several quid.
I ended up opting for a small, yet well received little wireless adapter that would hopefully connect my computer to the internet without the need for a drill and a good vacuum cleaner, and maybe even some 'polyfilla' or plaster as well.
The wireless adapter that I went for is on fact the D-Link Wireless N Nano USB Adapter DWA-131 and, as the title suggest, it is form a well known name that is D-Link, whose product I have used, and found to be very good quality indeed.
Firstly though, the adapter itself, just so you know what you're dealing with...
It is about 20mmwide by 35mm long and just under 10mm in depth, weighing in at nothing more than 3grams.
It runs off any standard USB port on your PC, using 2.0 and even earlier 1.1 with no trouble at all.
The wireless adapter uses 802.11 g/n over a 2.4GHz frequency.
Security involves WPS, (Wi-Fi protected setup), using (Wireless Protected Access) WPA and WPA2 algorithms
You do need windows 2000 and later, as long as 2000 has at least SP4 and XP has SP2 installed.
It has a small 'blue' button on the end which, when pressed, automatically connects to the internet, although it does take a few seconds to actually connect so don't expect instant results.
The black casing has what looks like two thumb shaped indents on the top and bottom which are great for gripping it when you want to pull this from your PC.
What about installing the adapter?
This is a matter of plugging this into an available USB port on your PC, then see if it can find its own drivers via a connection to the internet. If this fails, which is very rare to actually fail, then use the supplied installation disc to install the required drivers.
Once the drivers have installed you should be a few steps away from wirelessly connecting your once wired PC to the internet, as you follow the on screen simple to understand instructions as the mad wizard helps you along.
The initial connection to your wireless router is different depending on your OS, but if you follow the mad wizard it should all be straight forward, as long as you have the right SSID and password the re should be no trouble at all.
For example, on vista, once the drivers are running, the little blue box on your monitor should show up a list of available wireless networks broadcasting near you. Then you select the one you want, (usually your own, unless you are piggy-backing, which is not big and it's not clever). So once you press on the network name you then are asked to put in the password. Once done correctly this should then allow you to connect to the internet, job done.
If you want to connect automatically every time your chosen router is broadcasting then choose this option on your computer internet settings.
Once you've installed it, drivers found, passwords and SSID inputted, you should now have a connection to the internet, which, if your setting are right, should connect every time you boot up your computer.
This has really saved me a lot of hassles as it meant that I didn't have to spend hours drilling, wiring, filling and listening to a certain person moan at me until my ears bled. So it is a god send right from the start.
It arrived in that horrid plastic protective wrapping which takes a chainsaw and a qualified surgeon to get into, but once I'd got back from the hospital, I set about sticking this tiny little thing into a spare USB port, initially thinking that surely something this small just couldn't get a connection to my router, let alone keep connected. Luckily I was totally wrong on both thoughts.
I was quite amazed, pleasantly may I add, as it took only a few minutes to get connected, following the wizard and changing a few settings. Once connected I did the usual thing, I shut off my PC and re-booted, just to see if it would automatically connect... and it did, almost as quick as if it was on the Ethernet cable, almost.
Then, to make sure, I set about checking to see if this little device could keep connected to the internet and exactly how fast it could download. Once again I was pretty impressed with the results.
I do have to say that it has failed to connect once or twice, but a quick tap on the repair button and a few seconds whilst it did its 'thing' and I was back online in no time. But this happens about as often as a politicians keeps a promise and has never really been an issue worth worrying about, (the adapter not the promise).
As for the speeds. Well, it may not be able to get up to Usain Bolt speeds, and is not as fast as it would be if it was wired up by your Ethernet cable, but it is fast enough to keep your PC running happily online without feeling like you've suddenly gone back in time and are paying for that dreaded dial-up internet connection speed. Now dial up was slow wasn't it? Opening a page seemed to take about an hour? I remember going to make a brew when I was waiting for one of my E-mails to open. This is no way near that slow so don't be fretting about that. In fact, you'll barely realise that it is in fact a low cost wireless adapter that is the size of a ten pence piece.
The speeds and connectivity are all down to how far you are away from the router you are and what is between you and the router, such as walls, doors and windows. I have heard that if you sit in a room with lead walls then this may not work at all, but I've yet to try it.
As I said, all OS's initial set up are different but they are all easily followed with the mad wizard, and should only take minutes, if it all goes well.
I have tried this on other laptops, with some actually already having built in wireless adapters, and it has worked perfectly well on each go. I did have to 'switch' a few setting on the computers, such as disabling the built in wireless so there was no clashing, but once sorted this adapter worked just as well as the built in ones.
So what about the price for this little wireless miracle? Which will save you drilling holes in your wall and stop the wife from nagging at you over the mess?
This little adapter sells for around the £15.00 mark, with some places selling it for less, although I have seen it selling for double that price as well.
If you can get it for £15.00 then grab it and get it set up, even for slightly more, maybe £20 even, but for any more I'd take a step back and keep looking for it in other shops as there is always somewhere that sells it for the lower price.