USB wireless adapters are a common type of wireless network card. These USB adapters add Wi-Fi capability to desktop PCs and other devices having standard USB ports. USB supports not only the data transfers required for networking, but it also supplies a power source so that these adapters do not require electrical plugs. The USB wireless adapters listed are all compact "USB stick" models supporting the 802.11b Wi-Fi protocol.
This USB adapter from Netgear ships with a 5-ft. (1.5 m) USB cable to allow flexibility in positioning and aiming the device's built-in Wi-Fi antenna. The MA111 supports standard 802.11b functionality like auto-rate performance and 128-bit WEP encryption. Like many USB wireless adapters, the Netgear MA111 is certified to work with Microsoft Windows operating systems except for Windows 98 and Windows NT. Netgear provides a 3-year limited warranty for the MA111.
The WUSB12 is often used by those networking TiVo boxes, but it supports computers just the same. The unit features two LEDs that indicate power and data transfer activity, respectively. This USB adapter also supports 128-bit WEP encryption. Some have noted this product consumes a relatively large amount of power and CPU resources; as such, it may be less suitable for use in laptop computers and very low-end desktops. The WUSB12 comes with Linksys' standard 1-year limited warranty.
ZyXEL is a broadband wireless networking company based in Taiwan. Their B-220 USB adapter has a reputation for being a slick, extremely easy to configure product. Designed mainly for mobile business "road warriors," it is one of the few compact USB wireless adapters to support the 802.1x security standard used on some corporate networks. ZyXEL ships the B-220 with a long USB extension cord and an attractive carrying case.
Unlike competitors' products that are not certified to work with non-Windows operating systems, the D-Link DWL-122 specifically supports Apple Mac OS X (versions 10.2.X and 10.3.2). At 3.2 inches long, it is conveniently shorter than some other compact USB wireless adapters. A few users have reported less than desirable signal range, lost connections, poor durability of this product; your experience may vary. This DWL-122 can sometimes be found at a lower cost than all competitors' products.