Gateway WBU-110 wireless USB adapter
Gateway sticks to the basics with its WBU-110 wireless USB adapter. This adapter plugs directly into a PC's USB port and is reasonably priced at $50, but it lacks the fast throughput, the long range, the small form factor, and the robust security of competing wireless USB adapters. We suggest you consider adapters such as the more compact or the faster instead.
In addition to the jet-black adapter, the box includes a USB cable, a printed installation guide, a CD with software, and a well-written, 46-page manual that covers setup and configuration, with illustrations and step-by-step instructions. The WBU-110 has LEDs that indicate power and link activity, and the foldout antenna rotates 180 degrees.
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|LEDs on the WBU-110 indicate power and link activity.|
Because the Gateway WBU-110 is powered by its USB cable, it does without a separate AC adapter, making the adapter easy to tote and well suited for laptops and desktops alike. The unit we tested installed without incident on Windows 2000 and XP systems, but it could not locate all of the software needed for a Windows 98 system. While installation on a Windows 98 computer is not covered in the manual, a helpful online document provided a new piece of software that did the trick. Unfortunately, the WBU-110 isn't compatible with Macintosh or Unix computers.
The Gateway WBU-110 comes up short in a few areas. To start, its security setup doesn't go beyond 128-bit WEP encryption, nor can it cope with newer WPA-based networks. (Gateway plans a software upgrade in the coming months to update the adapter's drivers.) Also, the device is a good deal bulkier than the and the .
Capable of 5.2Mbps throughput, the Gateway WBU-110 wireless USB adapter delivers adequate 802.11b throughput, but it is much slower than the competing , which currently costs only $12 dollars more. While the Gateway WBU-110 delivers at least 5Mbps of bandwidth up to its range of 150 feet, it comes up short compared to the Linksys WUSB12, which delivered 225 feet of coverage.
|Throughput in Mbps|
Gateway provides a one-year warranty on its WBU-110--skimpy compared to longer coverage offered by Linksys, Netgear, and Belkin for their wireless adapters. The company says that it will provide phone support beyond the warranty for the lifetime of the product, and its Web site provides a wide variety of helpful material, including knowledgeable FAQs, setup tips, specs, and free downloads for the latest drivers. There's 24-hour phone and e-mail support, as well as online-technician chat services, available through the Gateway support site.