Linksys Wireless-G Notebook Adapter and PCI Adapter

Linksys Wireless-G Notebook Adapter
Model: WPC54G
Price: $99 MSRP
Rating: 5 out of 5

Linksys Wireless-G PCI Adapter
Model: WMP54G
Price: $99 MSRP
Rating: 5 out of 5

If you’ve seen one 802.11g card, you’ve seen them all, right? Perhaps. While it’s true that most WLAN cards are more alike than different, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still room for a bit of differentiation. The Linksys Wireless-G Notebook Adapter WPC54G is a good example of this, but it’s not so much the hardware that makes it different as the packaging and the software.

For example, one detail that might be minor to some but significant to others is that Linksys ships the WPC54G with a hard plastic case to protect it when it’s outside the notebook (which, of course, it technically should be when the notebook is in a bag). As the saying goes, little things can mean a lot.

When it comes to the utility software, the Linksys provides all the useful information and capabilities like signal strength, link quality, and site survey, but with a bit more graphical panache than others. For example, to indicate connection status it offers a screen with animated icons representing the various links between computer, WLAN card, access point/router, and the Internet.

One relatively unique (and very useful) feature of the WPC54G is that the utility software has the ability to save multiple network profiles, so if you travel between multiple networks– say, home, work, and your local Wi-Fi hotspot — save the individual settings for each network and quickly and easily switch between them. You can also export the profiles and import them to another machine.

As for the rest of the utility software, configuring your network settings is all wizard-driven rather than using menus or a tabbed interface. This certainly improves the ease-of-use but makes it somewhat less convenient to make a quick configuration change (i.e. turning WEP on or off) because you must negotiate all of wizard pages instead of simply jumping to the part you want.

With respect to performance, the WPC54G doesn’t disappoint. When connected to the companion WPC54G access point, its performance was quite good, exceeding that of any other pair of 802.11g products I’ve yet looked at.

It’s also worth noting that Linksys is one of two vendors (D-Link is the other) that offer a PCI version of their 802.11g network card. It installed easily and the software operated in the same fashion, even down to the profile feature, which probably isn’t nearly as useful in a desktop scenario. It’s available for the same $99 MSRP.

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