Pros:Very reasonably priced and reliable dual band USB wireless N. Excellent product.
Cons:Avoid the older V1 models. The V1 software is not so terrific.
The Bottom Line: If you need wireless N, or have a desktop you want to move to wireless, this is the product you need.
The NetGear WNDA 3100 is a USB 2.0 dual band wireless N adaptor, and is offered in NetGear’s performance category. Dual band refers to the older wireless B/G that operates in the 2.4 GHz band, and the newer wireless A that operates in the 5 GHz band. Wireless modes A/B/G are limited to 54 Mbs with the exception of some proprietary enhancements. Wireless N is capable of nearly 300Mbs, obviously a better choice.
Recommend this product?
I have been using my WNDA 3100 with a D-Link DIR-655 wireless router without a problem. I connect through several doors and walls and still maintain 270 Mbs speed. I have used the WNDA 3100 on both 32 and 64 bit desktop Windows 7 systems. I have not had a problem on either system. Reliability is outstanding and I have not had any signal drops. I chose the WNDA 3100 over several Linksys adaptors. None of the Linksys adaptors was capable of maintaining reliable Internet access to the D-LINK router.
The WNDA 3100 is available in multiple hardware revisions. I will focus on the newer V2 model, but have tested and used the V1 model. Both models are supported by Windows XP, Windows Vista 32/64 bit, and Windows 7 32/64 bit. I purchased my WNDA3100V2 from Staples for $59.95. Prices from sources on Internet will be in this range. Be careful when looking at used adaptors as these could be the older V1. I highly recommend staying with the V2 model. You can tell the difference as the V2 model has the push ‘N’ connect button while the V1 models do not have this.
The box contains everything you will need to connect the adaptor to your PC/laptop. You will find the WNDA3100 adaptor, setup software, an extension cable and a mounting cradle with some sticky Velcro tape. The extension cable and cradle are invaluable for usage with a desktop PC. I highly recommend downloading the latest software from www.netgear.com. It is common for stock to sit in warehouses while newer revisions of the software are made available. This is especially true for the older V1 models when using Vista and Windows 7.
NetGear’s software is called Smart Wizard. The wizard easily allows setup and connection to any standard wireless network. The software has tabs for the security “Settings”, available “Networks”, wireless received and transmit “Statistics”, and an “About” screen that shows driver version and date, and IP address. The bottom of the software window always displays the network you are connected to, the channel(s), wireless speed, and signal strength. The Smart Wizard is the preferred mechanism for managing the WNDA 3100. At installation time you have the option to use the built-in Windows wireless interface. I recommend using the NetGear wizard as it provides for more detail than Windows. I need to mention that while the V1 and V2 software serve the same functions, even the latest V1 software has an annoying habit of putting up a blue window that says “validate settings”. The window opens small and then grows/crawls outward to its final size. I never saw such painfully slow adjustments!
Security modes supported are:
None (not preferred)
WEP (the older style wireless)
WPA PSK (TKIP and AES)
WPA2 PSK (TKIP and AES)
Wireless N mode only operates using AES. You may need to get additional information from the person or people that setup the wireless you are trying to connect to. You may need to have the security changed from TKIP to AES to enable N capability.
Advanced users will find additional settings that most people will never need to adjust. The defaults work fine in most settings. However, you can also adjust the following:
Wireless Modes (2.4 or 5.0 GHz, and speed)