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.
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.
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.