Author: Tim Higgins
Review Date: 5/31/2001
|Pros:||– 40 and 128 bit WEP encryption|
– Good documentation
|Cons:||– Poor performance|
The WUSB11 is the second 802.11b USB adapter that we’ve tested (the D-Link DWL-120 was the first) and we found definite differences between products, with the Linksys turning in a poorer showing.
| The B11 is based on the Intersil Prism II chip set. The antenna is part of the printed circuit board with no external parts or connectors. Indicators consist of a Red “Link” LED and Green “Power” LED, both of which shone steadily, regardless of data traffic or network link condition… not very helpful.|
A Utility program for Win 98, Me, and 2000 comes on a CD, along with a PDF version of the printed User Guide. Installation on my Win98 Compaq 1650 laptop went relatively smoothly, with the problems noted in the Tip below.
The Utility installation set the B11’s properties so that I was able to connect to the Linksys BEFW11P1 (reviewed here) without having to touch any settings. If you do need to adjust settings, the Reference Manual has good explanations for each of the settings that you can futz with.
The Configuration Utility supplied with the B11 is based on the ubiquitous Neesus Datacom Wireless LAN Configuration Utility. I’ve complained about this program many times before, so go here if you’re unfamiliar with what it does (or doesn’t do). The good news is that it was definitely a newer version than I’d seen before, with some added improvements. The Signal Strength indicator seemed more responsive and indicative of what was happening although the Signal Quality indicator seemed to never drop below 70, even when the Signal Strength indicator was reading 10. There’s also an added Site Survey tab. Don’t get your hopes up, however. It just provides a list of any access points that it sees, along with SSID, BSSID, Signal level, Channel Number, and WEP status. You can also enter four 40 bit WEP keys and also four 128 bit keys, instead of the usual single 128 bit key.
| Wireless testing was done using a Linksys BEFW11P1 router (reviewed here) as the wireless client, and a Windows PC as the other LAN client.|
| Given my previous experience with a USB 802.11b adapter, I expected better performance from the B11 since USB adapters can have larger and better antennas than PC card designs. This, plus the fact that the adapter can be positioned more freely since it’s attached via cable instead of being stuck into a slot, can often make up for a weak signal from another Wireless station.|
Such is not the case, however, with the B11. So if you’re looking for a little range boost from an 802.11b client adapter, you’d better keep looking!