U.S. Robotics USR5410 802.11g turbo PC Card review: U.S. Robotics USR5410 802.11g turbo PC Card

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The Good Fast throughput in both 802.11g and mixed modes; excellent range.

The Bad Convoluted installation process; lacks WPA support; poor tech support; no Mac or Linux support.

The Bottom Line The speedy USR5410 can't escape its installation, security, and support shortcomings; D-Link's DWL-G650 is a more polished alternative.

6.9 Overall

The U.S. Robotics 802.11g wireless turbo PC Card (USR5410) outpaces the competition, especially when connected with its counterpart, the USR8054 802.11g wireless turbo router. Unfortunately, its excellent performance is overshadowed by problems with documentation, security, and tech support. D-Link's DWL-G650 is a viable alternative; it's very easy to use, and a much-needed firmware boost should make its performance competitive.

The USR5410's installation is more involved than usual. Instead of simply inserting the adapter and following prompts, you have to install drivers and software from the accompanying CD first, then reboot your PC before inserting the card. After rebooting and inserting the card, the drivers and the software that were copied from the CD are automatically installed. The printed installation guide does a good job of steering you through the process. The USR5410 supports systems running Windows 98 SE or later, but it does not support the Mac or Linux platforms.

The adapter's security offerings are mediocre and, in at least one case, ill-documented. The USR5410 does not support WPA, a stronger encryption scheme that is becoming standard fare on the newest generation of wireless gear. The card supports 64- and 128-bit WEP. You also get 256-bit WEP, but it's a dicey addition at best. It's rarely used, for one, and is helpful only if all of your equipment supports it. What's more, you can enable it only if you use the U.S. Robotics Wireless Configuration Utility to configure the card. In order to use the utility with Windows XP, you must disable the operating system's own Zero Configuration Utility. This key detail is not addressed in the installation guide.

The USR5410's performance shatters current WLAN speed records when used with other 802.11g USR gear, such as the USR8054 router. In this scenario, CNET Labs clocked speeds of nearly 28Mbps. The range of the card was good, too, spanning almost 175 feet. We were also impressed with the adapter's top speed of 17Mbps in our mixed-mode tests.

The USR5410 comes with a weak support package. You get a standard, two-year, limited warranty, but phone support is available only Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. Worse yet, it's a toll call. You can send technical questions to the U.S. Robotics support team via the company's Web site, but don't hold your breath; we tried this feature and never received a response. Firmware updates and comprehensive documentation for the router are available online.

CNET Labs throughput tests  (in Mbps)
Mixed mode  
U.S. Robotics USR5410 g
Sony PCWA-C300S
Actiontec 54Mbps wireless PC Card
Netgear WG511
Buffalo AirStation Adapter-G
Linksys WPC54G

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