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When we bought a desktop PC recently, we didn't realise that it didn't come with wireless capability. Myself and my husband both use laptops, which have built in wireless, and we weren't 100% sure what we'd need to get connected to the wireless router we have.
A trip to PC World and a helpful lady there pointed me in the direction of the Wireless Network USB adapters. This Cisco Linksys adapter was one of the cheapest at £24.99. The lady in-store said there were more powerful ones available, but as the desktop PC is mainly for my 4 year old daughter (and her sister when she's old enough), something that was powerful enough for online gaming didn't seem necessary.
The adapter comes in a neat little box, although perhaps a tad too big, even allowing for the CD enclosed.
Inside, on top, was a blue envelope with an orange sticker on that said "Run CD first." The CD was inside this envelope and also had the same sticker on. So it wasn't rocket science to work out that you needed to run the CD before doing anything with the adapter.
The CD should run automatically when you insert it into the CD drive, and will then guide you through the quick process to set it up (choose language, then insert USB adaptor into USB port).
Once the installation is complete, a small wireless icon manager will appear on your desktop system tray. This consists of 4 green bars which indicate the strength of signal you're getting.
The adapter looks similar to a USB pen drive, and is around 7cm long. It has a cap on, which you take off before inserting it into your USB drive. There's a tiny light on it that blinks when it's connected to your wireless network. We've got it in one of the USB ports on the front of our desktop PC, and it sticks out a bit too much, so you have to be careful you don't knock it. It could be put in one of the back ones, but I think that might make the signal even weaker.
Regarding the signal, it's not terribly good and we seem to only get about 2 out of 4 bars on the signal indicator icon most of the time. Even though it's only my daughter that uses the PC, you notice the difference in speed, even when just on the CBeebies website! Our wireless router is in the hallway, and the desktop PC in an adjoining room, with not much distance in between, so I'd expect a better signal than that.
The blurb says that the adapter "uses RangePlus smart antenna technology to deliver a high speed connection to wireless networks with extended range and fewer dead spots."
It complies with the 802.11g standard, is faster than Wireless G, and can connect to Wireless-N, -G and -B networks. The best performance is said to be when connected to 802.11n draft or RangePlus routers. We have a Belkin Wireless G router, so maybe that's why it's not as fast as it should be. The adapter supports WEP (64- and 128-bit), WPA and WPA2 (Personal and Enterprise) encryption security.
System requirements are: 600 MHz or Faster PC, 256 MB of RAM Memory, CD-ROM Drive, Available USB Slot, Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7.