Personally, I favour PCI wireless adapters for reception strength but you have to follow the installation instructions to the letter.
Brand or price don't seem to have much effect, though as you are using n wireless try to buy one of the same brand as the router for compatibility.
As for a USB stick blue screening your computer, generally USB is the least problematic to install.
Before you condemn the hardware, try to optimise your reception and avoid interference.
1) raise the router above furniture level
2) Experiment with channels (some will work better or worse depending on your environment)
3) If you can detect strong neighbouring wifi, use a channel 5 stops away from strongest.
4) Relocate cordless phone base or video sender etc.
5) Be prepared to move the computer (or at least turn it so your body is not between the router signal and the wireless adapter's antenna.
The router is in MY house and not currently sitting on the floor obscured by furniture.
As for the USB stick blue screening my pc. Google it. Its just a bug with the hardware that netgear has yet to fix. They don't even answer the query on their on support forums because they have no fix.
Thanks for your input on the PCI adapters. I saw some fairly cheap ones at the local parts shop so I'll give it a try. I always imagined they would provide more stability, but was worried about the range. This linksys USB cuts in and out like a crackhead trying to keep a job....its gotta go.
May I just add that in addition to the perils of furniture,. steel RSJs, microwave ovens etc., if you are going to use a PCI wireless card, that will generally be stuck around the back of the metal box it's screwed into, under a desk or a table and with little chance of getting a proper signal.
"a PCI wireless card, that will generally be stuck around the back of the metal box it's screwed into, under a desk or a table"
Which is why my desktop sits across my desk, high enough to clear a radiator and the antenna directly faces the wall nearest the router's placement (which is one floor down and about 30+ feet away and thru maybe 3 walls). I get a 50% strength signal (between 11 and 36Mbps allegedly) using a Dynamode PCI adapter which cost £3 ($4.50) secondhand.
The metal box has one benefit -- it screens my adapter's antenna from my neighbour's router which is about 12 feet away and on auto mode so often switches to channel 6 which I use.