Last week my nagging finally paid off and my dear old father succumbed to the lure of wirelessly networking his house - the part which pursuaded him was the idea that I might not spend all day indoors on the internet instead I could sit out and make use of the ridiculously expensive garden furniture he bought a few months ago (what has actually happened is that I get out of bed less often but he is yet to know this).
The package he bought was a netgear router, with this wireless adaptor from PC World the deal included the TechGuys coming to install the network - a god send as my dad is paranoid in the extreme about me fiddling with his PC. In total it cost £99. The TechGuy spent over 2 hours installing the network and testing it out around the house although he was highly unimpressed by my ancient laptop.
The adaptor is a typical sized USB plug in, 8cm long, 3cm wide and 1 cm deep. As shown in the picture above it is silver coloured and has a cap to protect the USB plug itself. When plugged in there is a blue LED which blinks regularly.
Installing the software I cant comment on as I had the expert do it for me (why he used this I dont know considering I already had a Belkin one installed but never mind). As long as I have it plugged in it will find the avaliable networks, currently it is finding 4, the home network I want it connected to, a BT hub which I believe is my mums (in the house next door), and two phillips devices which I think might be our cordless house phones since neither are in their cradles this evening. The home network understandably has the strongest signal and is set to be the first choice of network.
Obviously the network is locked - my Dad is paranoid as mentioned and believes that my mum will try to 'steal' his internet. So to log on my adaptor has to have the passcode and network key. These were preset when the network was set up so when the software asks the network to give it access these are automatically entered making the connection quick and stable. Or as i should say as stable as my archaic laptop can be.
One thing I do like is that if I wanted a change I can connect to the BT network (my mum hasnt got hers locked silly woman) just as easily as I can our home network, this is just as quick and stable as the home network, though the signal recieved for it is poor at the back of the house (well it is on the opposite side of two houses that the signal is being broadcast from).
Should we want to use the adaptor in a different computer I believe the passcode and key would remain the same as they are linked to its indiviual ID somehow.
In these terms the adaptor is every bit as good as the Belkin one I used previously. But where it falls down is its construction. In a week of use the casing has already shown itself to be rather weak, the join where the two halves of plastic clip together has separated the USB plug is now at a angle to the rest of the unit.
Now I would say that the handling of the adaptor has been no rougher than I would think is normal, it is either plugged in to my laptop or in my laptop bag which has itself only been carried up and down stairs afew times (like I said before I usually use the laptop in my bedroom so when I do eventually go downstairs I take it with me where I transfer to using the PC) much less than most laptops get carried around. So the quality of the casing is doubtful and is so far the only let down in the product.