Having a number of laptops in the house, as well as a couple of networked computers, we decided to buy a wireless router for the internet. Whilst the newest laptop had wireless built in, my somewhat older one did not, so I purchased a wireless card. Having a Netgear router, I decided to go for a Netgear card, and came away with the WPN511. Netgear is also a respected and trusted name in networking for homes and businesses, with a reputation for simple, functional and good value products.
The card itself is roughly credit card size, and about 5mm thick, with a roughly 30mm extension on the end that sticks out of the computer and contains the aerial and some lights. It is very lightweight, and easy to store when not in use, which is useful since it's generally not able to be left in the computer when packed into a carrying case. The card is designed to fit into a type 2 or 3 PCMCIA slot which are standard on all recent laptops, and some desktops (it is possible to buy adapters for any desktop), and even a some PDAs. PCMCIA, which incidentally stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (from memory, how said is that?), is a quite old standard, as the name suggests originally developed for adding extra memory to laptops, but later used for things like network cards, USB, hard drives, and now wireless. It's hot swappable, meaning cards can be removed and inserted whilst the computer is running, and able to power the devices, so no extra leads and power adapters. It is great for laptops which lack a large case for putting extra devices in. Unlike some wireless cards, the aerial is built in, which makes it much smaller and more convenient, as well as probably more resilient. When installed, the card sticks out to about 30mm from the side of the laptop.
The card comes with a driver disk, and has step by step instructions for setting it up. Configuring it for the network is quite easy as well, but may be a little harder with none Netgear networks, although wireless standards are all compatible, so it will work. It allows full use of most current wireless networks, with speeds of up to 108Mbps. Range depends on the router, and also environmental factors, but seems good. The router is in one of the front bedrooms, yet I've never had a problem accessing the network in the back garden. Again, I expect best results would be achieved with a Netgear router An icon in the computer's system tray tells you if the card is connected, and how good the connection is.
The only thing I can't comment on is support, since I have not had any problems with this, or any other Netgear products.
I would definitely recommend this wireless card. It is good value, with great performance, and I have not had any problems with it.
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