Netgear WG111 wireless USB adapter
Adding Wi-Fi to your computer doesn't get much easier than with the Netgear WG111 54Mbps wireless USB 2.0 adapter. Setup takes a mere two minutes, after which you can conveniently plug this pint-size 802.11b/g adapter into any USB port on your desktop or laptop. You'll also enjoy quick data transfer with the WG111: the device earned excellent throughput scores in CNET Labs' tests. And with the adapter's support for WPA, your data has a better chance of remaining secure. All told, the Netgear WG111 is one of the most simple and secure ways to add fast wireless access to your system.
The Netgear WG111 features the same pack-of-gum size and shape as many wireless USB adapters. The WG111's diminutive design makes it extremely easy to put the adapter in a pocket or a purse--though we wish it also included a convenient keychain hole as some USB flash drives do. Another gripe: this and all stick-shaped USB adapters jut out of your system's case, where you might accidentally bump them, making them awkward to use in tight spaces. If you'll be installing the WG111 in a desktop that offers USB ports only on its back panel, you can use the handy USB cable to attach the adapter to your system. Not only does this save you the pain of reaching behind your computer each time you want to connect and disconnect the device, it also lets you adjust the adapter's position to achieve optimal signal strength. If you don't want the device dangling around, Netgear bundles a plastic cradle for the WG111 that you can stick on your wall, desk, or elsewhere with the included Velcro tape. A removable cap protects the WG111's USB connector, but you'll have to be careful not to lose this tiny detachable piece.
After following the WG111's clear installation guide, we had the device installed and plugged into our laptop's USB port in a couple of minutes. We then used Netgear's intuitive wireless utility to take advantage of the adapter's features. For example, we created and saved different configuration profiles for our home and office networks, associating the correct security settings with the corresponding network name, or SSID. Profiles save you the hassle of having to type in encryption keys in order to connect to a secure network. The Netgear WG111 supports both WEPand WPA security schemes. Another utility trait that we particularly like is the Network tab. Clicking the tab automatically triggers the utility to list the vital signs of each network in the area, including SSID, channel, MAC address, security capabilities, and signal strength on a percentage scale of 0 to 100.