You gotta love Wi-Fi. It's liberated us from the shackles of cabledom and allowed the tight of pocket to pilfer next door's broadband from the comfort of their own home. But if, like some people we know, you're having to camp at the bottom of your garden before your laptop will pick up a nearby signal, you might want to consider wireless equipment using the draft 802.11n standard.
We've been using two such devices for a few weeks now -- the D-Link DWA-645 PC Card adaptor, and the D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N router. Both are touted as offering wireless connections that are up to 14x faster, and with 6x more range than standard 802.11g Wi-Fi. D-Link also claims to offer intelligent QoS (quality of service), so media streaming, VoIP conversations and gaming connections are given priority over Web browsing.
We had them up and running and communicating between each other in under 10 minutes, and were generally impressed. The pair connected at 300Mbps instead of the regular 54Mbps we expect of 802.11g, or 11Mbps for 802.11a. We couldn't conduct a proper bandwidth test because D-Link didn't send us a second router, but we expect this kit to perform in line with a standard wired Ethernet connection.
For the record it failed our acid test of spewing our Internet connection across the block to our local pub -- possibly because of the extra-thick walls in our swanky new pad. Your own mileage will vary.
Should you buy 'em? Yes, if you really want your neighbours down the road to share your Internet connection. And yes, if your ordinary Wi-Fi network is rather slow. But bear in mind 802.11n technology is still in draft form. Don't come running to us if this pre-n lot doesn't work seamlessly with future 802.11n devices. -Rory Reid
Update: D-Link is offering an 11-year warranty with all its wireless n products. All its draft 802.11n products sold to date can be upgraded to the final 802.11n standard via software updates.