As the technology is getting more mature, there is now an abundance of 802.11b cards on the market.
As the technology is getting more mature, there is now an abundance of 802.11b cards on the market. Essentially, there are only a few points of differentiation between them all. The first is the installation and software. While Windows XP features its own wireless configuration utility built in, other Windows OSes don't, so most wireless cards come with their own software to set up and configure the network. Generally this software doesn't do much more than the Windows XP tools, but in the case of the ASUS WL-103b, there are a couple of added features. Firstly, it allows you to specifically state whether to put the card into infrastructure or ad hoc mode, and secondly it puts all the networking tools you'll need in easy reach through one interface - including ipconfig. So even if you're using Windows XP, it's probably worth running through the ASUS software.
The second point of differentiation is added features, such as proprietary standards that raise speeds from the 11Mb/s of the standard 802.11b to 22Mb/s. Sadly, the WL-103b comes as a purely vanilla 802.11b card, although that helps to keep it widely compatible, and also helps keep the cost down - which leads to the third point of differentiation: price. The WL-103b is reasonably priced at around $80, although you might find it cheaper if you shop around. Keep in mind though that you can get a real barebones 802.11b card for under $50 if you hunt.
So, if you want a reliable card with a fairly good software interface at a decent price, then the WL-103b is a good choice.
This Review appeared in the November, 2003 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
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