Give your trusty laptop the gift of high-speed access with the Belkin 54g wireless notebook network card. The card is a cinch to install and set up, even for people new to networking. If you're running Windows 98, Me, 2000, or XP, simply pop the installation CD into the drive, run the setup program, and follow the onscreen instructions. (XP users can use Windows' built-in wireless-configuration utility, but Belkin recommends that you install its own utility.) When prompted by the wizard, insert the PC Card into a free cardbus slot on your notebook. In our tests, we got connected and started surfing the Web in mere minutes. If you need more help, Belkin includes a helpful quick-install guide, as well as a more in-depth printed manual.
Belkin's Wireless LAN Utility offers a great deal of control over the card. More robust than the built-in XP utility, it lets you create unique network profiles, monitor link status, and view statistical data about your connection. You can even turn off the card's radio--handy if you want to conserve battery power while traveling. The card also supports 64- and 128-bit WEP encryption.
Although not a top performer, the Belkin card delivered solid overall performance in CNET Labs' tests. In a pure 802.11g environment, the Belkin card offered a maximum throughput of 19.1Mbps, which is comparable to adapters from Netgear and Buffalo. However, speed dropped off more precipitously as we moved farther away from the router. At 75 feet, throughput came in at a slow but competitive 7.1Mbps. In a mixed network (802.11g and 802.11b), aggregate throughput topped out at 7.7Mbps, which is a typical level of performance degradation.
Belkin backs its line of 802.11g products with a lifetime warranty and 24/7, toll-free tech support, among the best support policies in the business. The company's Web site offers the basic necessities, including drivers, manuals, and FAQs.