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As someone who has always bought Belkin networking hardware there was only ever going to be one manufacturer I was going to use when I needed to upgrade. As I wanted to futureproof myself from the ever increasing broadband speeds, I decided to buy the Belkin Wireless N USB Adapter to go with my new Wireless N router. As I had previously bought 2 of the Belkin Wireless G adaptors in the past, I knew what I would be getting in terms of quality.
--Whats in the box--
On opening the box, there were no real surprises, everything looked identical to the Wireless G version of this product. There was the USB adapter, a stand which would allow you to place the adapter on your desk if you didnt want to have it plugged directly into the back of your PC, the antenna, a quick installation guide and a CD which contained the drivers and a full manual.
On reading the quick installation guide, it was apparent that the software had to be installed before the adapter was plugged in. The reason for this was because, when the hardware was detected, the software would be available to complete a trouble free install. Installing the software was straightforward. There was a limited number of standard questions, such as install location and the wizard was happy to carry on unattended. Fortunately this product comes with drivers for Windows 7. The old G model never had these and you needed to play around a bit to get the software to install in Vista compatability mode.
Once the software was installed, it was time to plug in the USB adapter. This is the same as plugging in any other USB device such as a digital camera. As mentioned in the previous section, you can either plug the adapter directly into a free USB port or you can plug the stand into the USB port and then connect the adapter to the stand. This was my preferred method as it gives you more scope for moving the adapter around to get a better signal.
If you have no encryption on the router, you are ready to surf, though this is not recommended. If you have encryption on the router, open up the Wireless software on your PC and select the encryption mode you are using and enter the pass key. The software has improved greatly from the older versions and now, entering the pass key information is very simple that no real IT knowledge is required. I would recommend the WPA or WPA2 keys as these are the strongest available. Whichever one you choose will be dependant on which technologies your router supports.
I have had no problems with this adapter, although I am not seeing any notciable speed increases when browsing the net (due to my connection still being under 50Mb), I am seeing great speed increases when copying files internally over the network between computers. Occasionally the signal will drop down to a low level but it has never cut out completely. Once the initial setup has been done, there is no need to worry about the adapter, it will look after itself and connect to the router once it has been switched on. If you are experiencing a poor signal though, all you need do is to experiment by putting the adaper in different places. For best results, try to make sure that the USB adaptor is at a higher level than the wireless router as the signal is at its strongest when it is transmitted upwards.
This adapter is no different in looks and quality to the Wireless G versin. It looks after itself and has proved to be very reliable. Setting up the security key is now more straightforward than ever before and after that, there is really nothing else to do. This product will work perfectly well with any Wireless N router although I am using it with the Belkin F5D8636 Wireless N router.
I would highly recommend this wireless adapter to anyone who needs a wireless connection from their PC and doesn't have an in-built wireless antenna.
This product can currently be picked up from Amazon for £35 which is a lot dearer than the Wireless G product but with its longer shelf life, it is certainly a much better buy.