CardBus Card: WE120P ($99)
USB LAN Adapter: WU250 ($179)
What’s that you say? You want a single brand name 802.11b network interface
card (NIC) for all your laptop, PC and PDA needs? And ones that can handle USB
and PCI? 32-bit CardBus or 16-bit PC Card? Well, my friend, look no further
because Hawking Technology)
has the cards for you.
- Multiple platform support
- Reasonably priced
- The market lifetime for ‘b’ only cards is shrinking
- Ad hoc mode on the slow side.
At this point in their development, one 802.11b card is pretty much like every
other 802.11b card in terms of basic functionality. In these two adapters, the
WE120P CardBus and WU250 USB external model, both come with full 802.11b compatibility
and 64-bit Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP).
There is one key non-performance difference between cards: How well do they
work with other company’s NICs and wireless access points (WAP)s. And, here,
our tests showed that Hawking Technology’s cards can fly with the best.
We tested the two cards using a Hawking Technology’s WA739P, 3-Port
Wireless Print Server; a D-Link DI-754 AirPro
Multimode router using a D-Link DWL-650+
for 802.11b compatibility and an older but still game SMC EZ Connect 802.11b
2655W WAP. Regardless of what box was slinging the data into the air, the NICs
were able to keep talking.
Regardless of the WAP, Hawking’s NICs did as well in terms of range as the
WAP’s native NICs. Still, if you have doubts about just how compatible 802.11b
devices really are with each other, Hawking offers a complete family of cards
for almost any modern digital device and WAPs to go with them.
The prices, while they sound high, if you just look at the list, are actually
quite reasonable. You should be able to find these cards for about half list
price. Unfortunately, Hawking doesn’t have as wide a distribution as Linksys
or D-Link, so you’re more likely to find them via an online reseller than your
local computer shop.
Plug in, pop in the CD, install, go. It’s really that easy. On the Windows
XP machines, you’ll get to see Microsoft’s typical scare warning about how the
adapter’s drivers are unsigned and therefore might not work at all, might do
terrible things to your PC, or even might cause your cow to stop giving milk.
Trust Us, Hawking’s cards will work. Or, at least they did on our Pentium III
powered HP Pavilions and even on bottom of the line eMachines T1862 and Microtel’s
Sysmar 709. On the laptop side, the CardBus card worked flawlessly on a Toshiba
Satellite 2805 and an IBM ThinkPad A20P, both of these are older model laptops
running with 700MHz Pentium IIIs.
802.11b has two operational modes: ad hoc (aka peer-to-peer) where wireless
devices talk directly to one another, and infrastructure, where everyone connects
to a WAP, which more often than not also connects you to wired network resources
and the Internet. Ad hoc is usually easier to set up, but a mess to manage.
There is, however, a functional difference as well.
At close range to a WAP or a NIC in ad hoc mode, the Hawking cards came in
with a decent, albeit nothing to write home about 4.0 Mbps. But as we ranged
out to medium range — where your "theoretical" bandwidth drops from
11 to 5.5Mbps — we found that with a WAP it was still getting a reasonable
3.1 Mbps but the ad hoc mode dropped to 2.4Mbps. At ranges where the WAP and
NICs in combination were still crawling along at a few hundred Kbps, the ad
hoc mode had given up the ghost.
None of this is surprising. A WAP’s bunny ear antennas may look silly, but
they’re still better at omnidirectional sending and receiving than any NIC’s
can be. The moral of the tale is that while Hawking cards do as well as any
others in ad hoc mode, to really get the most out of them you need a WAP.
Taken as a whole, the Hawking NICs performance was good but not outstanding.
Hawking makes nice, solid cards. If you want to keep all your wireless devices
under one brand at a reasonable price, Hawking deserve your attention — they
have everything you need for every device you own.. Our only concern is that
all Hawking currently offers is 802.11b. If you want speed, you’ll need to go
to another vendor.