When you need a wireless connection – or a faster one for cheap!

Jul 23, 2009 (Updated Aug 6, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Inexpensive, easy to install and use, works as advertised.

Cons:Top is not tethered to the device and can be easy to lose.

The Bottom Line: Don't rush to replace your computer with an installed wireless-n machine. Get an 'n' router and one or two of these handy devices.


This review is written for non-technical people about improving the speed of their wireless access or getting on a laptop that does not have the capacity built in – For very little money! It reviews the utility of these devices and specifically discusses the features of this Netgear WN111 (v.2) Wireless-(draft-n) Adapter.

More and more people own laptop/notebook or the newer and even smaller “netbooks.”  The idea is pretty straight forward. A computer that is portable and can easily be taken from place to place, unlike our traditional desktop-type computers that are secured by both the sheer mass as well as by the multitude of wired connections they usually require to one place.

The evolution of portable technology led to what we call, descriptively, “wireless” connections.  There are connections to wireless system that do not require wired connections.  What they DO require is a wireless adapter, often built into to newer notebook and netbook units.

There are a couple of possible complications.  One is having access from a portable computer that does not have a built-in wireless card and the other is having one, but wanting greater speed than the now older versions of wireless adapters allow. An inexpensive and entirely satisfactory solution to either issue is the Netgear WN111 v.2, available for about $80. new and for about $20. refurbished.  I bought one of the latter and am please to say that it works perfectly.

There are, essentially, four generations of wireless connections.  They go by the shorthand designations of a,b,g and draft-n. “a” is the first and slowest and they increase in both speed and range up to the latest draft-n adapters and routers. Of course, for any wireless card or adapter to function, it must be within range and have access to a wireless router. These are ubiquitous at internet ‘hot spots’ and are frequently becoming the connections of choice in peoples’ homes.

When I first wanted to increase the wireless download speed of my own notebook (two years old and with a built-in a/b/g wireless card, I mistakenly thought that I would only need to replace that card with one that would receive the faster, ‘draft-n’ signal.  Wrong!  Turns our that these small wireless cards are often necessarily compliant with the motherboards (the computer heart and brain of your machine) and the card cannot be replaced with a ‘draft-n’ card because it will not work with the motherboard.

I actually thought about replacing the notebook computer – though in all other respects, it performed perfectly.  Then I discovered the magic of wireless adapters, including those that received the speedier ‘draft-n’ signals and connected to the outside of a laptop by simply 1) downloading the software from the company’s website if a disc did not come with I and then 1) plugging it into an available USB (v2) port. After trying several and doing a good deal of research, I settled on the Netgear NN111 v.2 wireless USB adapter. It works perfectly.

For the information of the ‘teachies’ among readers, the specifics are as follows:

Physical Specifications
Dimensions: 94.5 x 30.2 x 15.2 mm (3.72 x 1.19 x .6 in) Weight: 21.5 g (0.76 oz)
Wireless Speeds
802.11b: 1, 2, 5.5, 11 Mbps 802.11g: 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps 802.11n draft: 6, 6.5, 13, 13.5, 19.5, 26, 27, 39, 40.5, 53, 54, 58.5, 65, 78, 81, 104, 108, 117, 121.5, 130, 135, 162, 216, 243, 270, 300 Mbps (300 Mbps when used with WNR834M & WNR854T only) Improves network performance up to 50% when used with legacy 802.11b/g wireless routers
Standards
IEEE 802.11n draft specification, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g 2.4 GHz
Security
Wi-Fi protected access (WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK) Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) 64-bit, 128-bit encryption for IEEE 802.11b and IEEE 802.11g Smart Wizard™ simplifies setup and Touchless Wi-Fi Security makes connecting to secure networks simple and fast
Warranty
NETGEAR 1-year warranty  
There are other reasons you might want to consider getting one.

If you have upgraded your wireless router at home from the now standard ‘g’ or ‘a/b/g,’  to one that spreads the coverage and increases the signal strength and downloading speed, you will find that if ANY device operating at less than the ‘draft-n’ speed is connected to your network, the entire network will revert to the slower ‘g’ configuration.  For the ‘n’ to work, every item connected to that network must be able to use the signal at that level or the whole shebang reverts (‘downscales’) to the lowest common denominator.


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