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Netgear WG511T 108 Mbps Wireless PC Card review: Netgear WG511T 108 Mbps Wireless PC Card

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The Good Fast; great range; easy-to-use configuration utility; WPA support.

The Bad Increased interference risks; short warranty.

The Bottom Line The WG511T is a good choice for speed demons and those looking for a long-range PC Card adapter.

8.2 Overall

Editors' note: The rating and/or Editors' Choice designation for this product has been altered since the review's original publication. The reason for this is simply the general improvement of technology over time. In order to keep our ratings fair and accurate, it's sometimes necessary to downgrade the ratings of older products relative to those of newer products.

There are three reasons you should consider Netgear's WG511T if you're shopping for a wireless networking adapter: it's easy to use, it's very fast, and it delivers the best range we've seen to date in a PC Card adapter. Unfortunately, the WG511T's enhanced range and speed can be achieved only when it is used with other Netgear Super G products, such as the Netgear WGT624 router. You can also use the adapter with standard 802.11g or 802.11b devices from other vendors, but when you do, the data-transfer speed plummets. This makes the WG511T the obvious choice if you're planning to build an exclusively Super G network. If you want your network to handle standard Wi-Fi traffic, on the other hand, you may want to consider a less expensive, standard 802.11g adapter, such as the Linksys WPC54G or Netgear's less racy WG511.

Installing the WG511T requires only inserting the accompanying CD and clicking through a few onscreen prompts. Once installed, an icon for the WG511T's Configuration Utility appears in the Windows taskbar notification area in the lower-right corner of the screen. We like this utility, which has a useful help section that explains the PC Card's various configuration and security options. The utility also lets you set up separate connection profiles for the different wireless networks you connect to, which saves you the hassle of having to reenter encryption keys or other security information each time you change networks. The WG511T supports both WEP and WPA encryption schemes.

The WG511T tucks a few performance enhancers under its hood--specifically, portions of the 802.11e draft specification built into its firmware--making it especially well suited for streaming media. These new features ensure that streaming-media applications, such as the voice and video links in a teleconference, won't be interrupted by a simple file transfer. This means that you can participate in a teleconference over your wireless connection and download data from the Internet without suffering degradation in the audio or video quality of the links.

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