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Model Number: DUB-E100 ($59)
For years, desktop systems have always turned to the PCI network adapter to
connect. It has been the choice of network administrators and even home networking
enthusiasts. It's fast, cheap, and secure. Still, some balk at having to open
their systems and thus opt for slower external network adapters whether wireless
or attached to the Universal Serial Bus (USB) port.
USB 2.0 may change all of that. D-Link's USB 2.0 Fast Ethernet Adapter delivers
high transfer rates while ridding us of most installation pains.
It's been a long time coming, but USB 2.0 is finally getting widespread deployment.
Several companies are putting USB 2.0 products on the market and many new computers
sport USB 2.0 ports. This next generation version of the Universal Serial Bus
standard, also known as USB High Speed, promises throughput of up to 480 Mbps.
It is compatible with slower USB 1.0 and 1.1 products, which produce a mere
1.5 and 12 Mbps throughput, respectively.
D-Link's USB 2.0 Fast
Ethernet Adapter should provide network administrators, both at home and
at work, plenty of whip lashing transfer speeds without opening a single PC
- High throughput
- Easy USB 2.0 port installation
- Older systems may need a USB 2.0 adapter
- Paltry warranty
The D-Link USB 2.0 Fast Ethernet Adapter provides the link between a USB 2.0-enabled
machine and the Ethernet network. Only very new computers come equipped with
USB 2.0 ports -- many recent PCs don't possess such a capability, in fact Windows
XP is the only Microsoft OS with native support (older versions of Windows usually
get drivers for USB 2.0 with any upgrade). The 2-GHz computer I used for testing
was humbly equipped with mere USB 1.1 ports, so I had to install a USB 2.0 PCI
adapter (the 2-Port DUB-A2, also from D-Link).
The Ethernet adapter comes with a USB 2.0-certified cable to connect it to
a USB 2.0 port. The product itself is a silver and gray device about the size
of a small pack of cards, sveltely shaped like the middle of a Coke bottle.
It has dark gray, rounded side extensions, making the adapter look as if someone
stuck a small hockey puck inside. The design lends an ergonomic feel to the
device, though it's hardly functional. Two green lights indicate a network link
and network activity. An RJ-45 socket sits at the top, while a type-B USB connector
can be found at the opposite end. D-Link offers a one-year limited warranty,
miserly by today's standards.
If you already have USB 2.0 ports, installing the Ethernet adapter should be
quick. As with many of its products, D-Link includes an illustrated quick installation
guide that covers operating systems from Windows 98 to XP. The company duplicates
the exact guide in the included CD, but not much else in the way of documentation
or bigger-picture networking to clarify issues for the uninitiated networking
Upon connecting the Ethernet adapter to a USB 2.0 port, the PC detects it and
asks for the drivers, which D-Link provides on the CD. This whole setup takes
less than 5 minutes. Installing a USB 2.0 adapter in your PC beforehand will
add anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to the process, depending on how easy it is
to get into your PC's motherboard. It's good to note, however, that the Ethernet
adapter will also install on older USB ports, though you won't get the fast
The new network adapter produced pleasingly good results in my tests using
NetIQ's Qcheck. On average, the USB 2.0 Ethernet
adapter managed to exceed 72 Mbps transfer speeds, an attractive number for
those who perform large file transfers on their network. It easily overtakes
the performance of many Fast Ethernet PCI network adapters. However, it's turtle-like
if you compare it to the almost 90 Mbps transfer speeds that some 10/100 PC
Card network adapters could achieve. Still, if you factor in its excellent response
times, the adapter should give users on your network plenty of time to do other
tasks other than waiting for file transfers to finish.
D-Link's USB 2.0 Fast Ethernet Adapter should satisfy the needs of most low-
to medium-traffic networks. If you don't anticipate constant large file transfers
and you have USB 2.0 on your PC, then this is a good external network adapter
solution. With the right system, it's relatively easy to install and provides
decent throughput for most tasks.
If you have to install a USB 2.0 adapter, however, the ease of installation
goes down a bit and the cost goes up a lot -- but it extends your system's
capabilities overall. With a USB 2.0 hub, you can not only connect the network
adapter, but many other USB or USB 2.0 devices as well.