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A Simple Design Tweak Makes Wi-Fi Work Better: Gigabyte's GN-WBKG 802.11g USB Adapter Review

Wireless Internet access is sure to be one of the great innovations of the past several years. There's no need to list the myriad ways in which Wi-Fi has improved our use of the Internet, or indeed, is poised to improve numerous aspects of daily communication and commerce. But if you're anything like myself, or my girlfriend, friends, co-workers, or acquaintances, you've also experienced Wi-Fi's perplexing dark side: inexplicably limited connectivity, even in areas where networks are known to be operating.

The culprit? Bad hardware or bad software, perhaps. But most likely, your problems are due to the nefarious little gremlin called interference. It's the reason you can't detect the wireless access point a measly ten feet away in another room, but the next door neighbor's network (encrypted, alas) comes in just fine.

Gigabyte Technologies, best known for its PC components, proposes one way to circumvent these issues: a Wi-Fi antenna that can be manually rotated and pivoted to home in on a signal.

The Gigabyte GN-WBKG 54Mbps Wireless USB Adapter also supports older, and slower, 802.11b networks, as well as 64- or 128-bit WEP encryption, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and 802.1X authentication.

But its key feature is a "hinged antenna" that promises to swivels 360 degrees. Actually, it's the entire adapter that's hinged, with the pivot joint located immediately above the USB connector.

At any rate, this feature is designed to enable a user to position the antenna to maximize reception. Anyone (like my girlfriend) who has furiously tried to re-locate a fading signal just to send that last, mission-critical email will certainly appreciate this.

Before we dive into testing the adapter, a look at its specifications as provided by Gigabyte.

Gigabyte GN-WBKG 54Mbps Wireless USB Adapter Specifications
Interface Type USB2.0 IEEE Standard 802.11b/g
Data Rate Up to 54 Mbps Security 64/128 bit WEP, WPA, 802.1x, AES
LED Indicators Power, Link, Intensity Antenna Type Chip antenna
Signal Range Indoors: Up to 100m
Outdoors: Up to 400m
Weight 25g
Humidity 10% ~ 90% Maximum (Non-condensing) Dimensions (W x L x H) 109mm x 25mm x 16mm
Certifications FCC, CE, DGT Os Support 98SE/ME/2000/XP