Author: Joseph Moran
Review Date: 2/20/2003 12:24:34 AM

Model NumberDWL-G650 ($79 MSRP)

Needless to say, a shiny new 802.11g router isn’t going to provide you the desired performance boost unless you’ve got a compatible WLAN NIC to go with it. This is where the $79 D-Link DWL-G650 High-Speed 2.4Ghz Wireless CardBus Adapter comes in.

Like the related DI-624 wireless router, the DWL-G650 looks (aside from a very minor cosmetic difference) and operates in much the same way as other adapters from the company that operate on different WLAN specifications.

The saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” would seem to apply here, because you’ve got to give credit to D-Link for having one of the best WLAN configuration utilities out there. Some vendors simply pass along the default OEM software from the chipset maker, offer a seemingly hastily written (and often marginally useful) application, or in a few cases even leave the configuration chores to the native WLAN capabilities of Windows (XP).

D-Link on the other hand provides a utility that is at once logical — even attractive — and, more importantly, highly functional. It offers an intuitive way to set the adapter’s configuration parameters, including WEP encryption, and find wireless networks with which to associate. (As with the DI-624 router, WPA encryption will be made available via a free firmware upgrade once it’s finalized in the spring of 2003.)

The utility displays such useful information as the link quality (how fast the connection is), signal strength (how far you are from the access point), and how much data is being transmitted and received. We don’t use this to determine the product’s performance, but it’s handy for a quick and dirty measurement of how many bits you’re pushing at a given moment.

On the subject of performance, the DWL-G650 (paired up with the DI-624 router) did turn in good performance numbers–at least, good by the standards of the draft 802.11g specification. Its signal strength and throughput at a distance of 100 meters was of course reduced, but still remained strong (see the review of DI-624 for details). I also had no difficulty connecting the DWL-650 to an older D-Link 802.11b WLAN router, to which it associated at an 11 Mbps data rate. While these early 802.11g products don’t seem to be reaching the throughput heights of established 802.11a products, they’re providing quality link speed.