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.
The Netgear WG111's speedy data throughput in CNET Labs' benchmarks made a good impression on us. With its 44.4Mbps maximum throughput, the device is far and away the fastest USB Wi-Fi adapter we've tested, beating its closest competitor, the Hawking HWU54D Hi-Gain USB adapter, by 21.3Mbps. In our Labs' long-range throughput tests, the WG111 earned a less remarkable 6.2Mbps score at 200 feet, which is still nothing to scoff at. For more details on how we test networking devices, see the CNET Labs site.
The WG111 ships with a lengthy three-year warranty that includes toll-free telephone support available around the clock seven days a week. The company's support Web site is nothing special, listing the standard firmware updates, documentation downloads, and thin FAQ info, as do the sites of most manufacturers. However, the site also offers a fairly unusual and definitely helpful user forum.
|Throughput in Mbps|
|Throughput in Mbps at 200 feet|