While the Buffalo AirStation Nfiniti notebook adapter made a good showing in mixed-mode throughput testing, we still think it's too early to invest in Draft N technology.
The Buffalo AirStation Nfiniti notebook adapter looks like every other PC Card out there: most of the card slides into the card slot on your notebook, and the part that sticks out, which houses the antenna, is made of black plastic. Two indicator lights on the outer portion blink to indicate connection and activity.
Installing the Nfiniti notebook adapter is a breeze. Simply run the included CD to install the drivers and insert the card when instructed. From there, you can use Buffalo's wireless manager utility to establish a connection to your wireless network. For connecting, you have two options. First, you can use the utility to scan for available networks and to connect. The other option is Buffalo's proprietary AOSS, or AirStation One-touch Secure System, an automatic wireless configuration tool. This allows you to press the AOSS button on the Buffalo router, then press the AOSS button on the adapter (for Buffalo's adapters, the AOSS button is a virtual button in the wireless manager utility), and the two components will then talk to each other and establish a connection.
Buffalo has chosen not to support single-mode operation on its Nfiniti router, so we can't make direct comparisons to Draft N routers that do support single-mode op, except in the short-range mixed-throughput test. (Belkin made the same choice for its N1 router.) Single-mode operation generally provides better throughput than mixed-mode operation, though the reality is that most home networks will likely have a combination of older and newer networking gear, which necessitates using the router in mixed mode anyway. That said, the Buffalo duo still showed impressive performance as compared to the other Draft N pairs. At 10 feet, in mixed mode, the Nfiniti beat the competition with an impressive throughput of 60.23Mbps. At 200 feet (again, in mixed mode), the Buffalo fell just behind D-Link's N 650 router, with a throughput of 38.18Mbps. It beat the Belkin N1, as well as the single-mode routers from Netgear and Linksys. Still these numbers fall short of the promise of 802.11n, the first draft of which specifies a max throughput of 270Mbps.
Buffalo backs the AirStation Nfiniti notebook adapter with a limited two-year warranty--better than the single year offered by Netgear and D-Link but still behind the three years that Linksys provides and the incomparable liftetime warranty from Belkin. Toll-free phone support is available 24/7 and e-mail support is available through an online form. The included CD has a lengthy product manual, but if you need additional assistance, Buffalo's Web site provides FAQs, a knowledge base, and downloadable firmware updates and drivers.