The Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter adds 802.11g connectivity to any laptop with an available PC Card slot. Linksys sells an enhanced version of the card called the
The Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter comes with a printed quick-installation guide that walks you through the setup for Windows PCs. (Unfortunately, this adapter doesn't support Macs.) The WPC54G setup is slightly differently for XP than for the other supported versions of Windows (98SE, Me, and 2000), because you'll need to use XP's native wireless configuration tool rather than Linksys's configuration utility. Both configuration tools are easy to use, but XP's native Zero Config utility has security advantages, which we'll discuss later. Regardless of the Windows OS you're running, setup is foolproof and entails little more than loading the accompanying CD and inserting the PC Card.
The WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter is Linksys's plain-Jane 802.11g adapter. It doesn't tout proprietary speed enhancements, such as , or an external antenna connector, such as the , but the WPC54G does cover the basics. It's Wi-Fi certified for both 802.11g and 802.11b, and it supports both the older WEP and the newer and stronger WPA encryption schemes. If you're using the WPC54G with Windows 98, Me, or 2000, you'll have to settle for WEP, though, since the Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter needs XP's Zero Config tool for WPA support.
In our informal tests using NetIQ's QCheck to measure throughput, the Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter clocked a speedy 24Mbps. You can get about twice the throughput with enhanced PC Card adapters, such as the , the , and the . These enhanced adapters also offer slightly better range in most environments, but the WPC54G will be adequate for most home networking scenarios or for connecting to public hot spots.
The Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter comes with a respectable three-year warranty that falls short of Belkin's lifetime policy but is on a par with the warranties of other networking vendors. You also get toll-free 24/7 support for the lifetime of the product. In addition, Linksys has one of the best online-support offerings in the business, with product-specific setup guidelines, FAQs, troubleshooting solutions, drivers, firmware, live chat with support staff, and a copious knowledge database that contains how-to information for the WPC54G's setup and configuration, as well as problem fixes for a collection of common networking issues.