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Trendnet Wireless N-Draft PC Card review: Trendnet Wireless N-Draft PC Card

The TEW-621PC card is a standard wireless adapter, just like any other. The majority of the slim body slides right into your notebook PC's card slot, and the black plastic bit that sticks out houses two LEDs that indicate connectivity and data transfer activity. Installing the card is simple: just pop in the included CD to install the drivers, then power down and insert the card when instructed. You can use either the card's own utility or Windows XP to scan for available networks and to make a connection. The card supports WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security.


Trendnet Wireless N-Draft PC Card

The Good

Easy to install; all-around fast performance; supports the latest wireless security protocols.

The Bad

Expensive; not based on a finalized spec.

The Bottom Line

The Trendnet Wireless N-Draft PC Card seems like a compelling choice for your notebook PC, but we recommend waiting until the 802.11n spec is finalized before choosing an adapter.
The Trendnet Wireless N-Draft PC Card (TEW-621PC) is the companion wireless adapter to the Trendnet Wireless N-Draft Router. Together, the card and router made an impressive showing in our Labs' throughput tests--besting most of the competition--but as they are based on Draft N of the yet-to-be ratified 802.11n spec, we remain wary. So far, the Draft N networking gear we've seen has shown significant speed and range improvements over 802.11g equipment, but the numbers fall well short of the promise of 802.11n. Our advice is to stick with your current wireless networking gear until the spec is finalized (around mid 2007) and to see where the cards fall then.

In CNET Labs' test, the Trendnet duo beat the bulk of its competition in all three tests. We need to point out, however, that the rest of the Draft N router/card combinations that we've reviewed were tested several months ago. Networking vendors regularly release firmware updates that usually improve throughput speeds somewhat. There's a good chance that the routers and cards from Trendnet's competition--with their most recent firmware upgrades--would post scores higher than those we have on record. That said, we were impressed by the Trendnet router and card. In the short-range maximum-throughput test, the pair posted a score of 83.3Mbps. In the mixed-mode test, with 11g and 11b adapters in the mix, they scored 57.1Mbps, just behind the offerings from D-Link and Buffalo. Finally, in the long-range throughput test (at 200 feet), the Trendnet pair won again, scoring 54.1Mbps. While these numbers are impressive, they still fall well short of the promised speed improvements of 802.11n. The theoretical maximum for 802.11n is 300Mbps. We don't expect to see even next year's finalized 11n gear reach 300Mbps, since that is the maximum burst speed and not a maintainable rate. Still, we'd like to see throughput numbers higher than where they are now.

CNET Labs' maximum throughput tests (at 10 feet)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

CNET Labs' maximum throughput tests with mixed 802.11b/g and Draft N clients (at 10 feet)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Note: Throughput in Mbps

Note: Throughput in Mbps measured indoors at 200 feet

Trendnet provides a generous three-year warranty for the TEW-621PC wireless adapter. Toll-free phone support is available 24/7. Trendnet's site has an online help desk that was down for an upgrade when we checked. You can also e-mail tech support, search the online knowledge base, and download user guides from the site.


Trendnet Wireless N-Draft PC Card

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 6Performance 8Support 8