Tom's Hardware's 2009 Gift Guide: Part 2, System Add-Ons

Wireless Network Adapter: Netgear WNDA3100v2

www.netgear.com
$79.99
By: William Van Winkle

Naturally, you can’t have a top-flight, dual-band router without a corresponding client adapter. Many of the adapters built into notebooks are 2.4 GHz-only, which sort of negates so many of the possible benefits of 5.0 GHz 802.11n, especially for video streaming. To get the best 11n experience, you need both bands in action, and ideally you want the router and client brands to match in order to minimize the risk of any incompatibilities. True, if it’s actually 802.11n certified hardware, everything should be interoperable, but matching radios may still deliver better results than mismatched ones.

The WNDA3100 is Netgear’s dual-band offering for the WNDR3300, DGND3300, and WNDR3700. As you might expect, there aren’t volumes to write about a USB adapter. The little gadget looks like a thumb drive, complete with non-attached and easy-to-lose drive cap, and comes bundled with a cradle and USB cable, which I found useful for elevating the transceiver. Does this actually improve performance? I’m not sure, but I did experience a 7% boost in my confidence level about the connection.

The key feature with the WNDA3100 is something Netgear calls Push ‘N Connect. The rest of the industry calls it Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). WPS emerged from the Wi-Fi Alliance as a way to help consumers associate 802.11 devices and implement basic security without resorting to complex on-screen configuration. Usually, it operates just like when connecting a wireless game controller on a console, such as the Xbox 360. Press the connection button on the host, then press the button on the client device, give them a couple of seconds to swap information, and ba-bam! You’re associated and communicating.

Alternative WPS methods involve using a PIN, as with Bluetooth, using a USB key to transfer association data between devices, or using near field communication by bringing the two nodes within range of each other. The Wi-Fi Alliance started certifying WPS devices back in early 2007, and today well over 200 devices are compliant.

Netgear includes its Smart Wizard to help speed along any additional configuration. You can choose from 64- or 128-bit WEP, WPA-PSK, or WPA2-PSK encryption methods to protect your wireless communications. Be aware that as of this writing, Netgear’s WNDA3100 drivers do not officially support Windows 7 or 64-bit versions of XP or Vista, and if you’re running XP you’ll need at least Service Pack 2. Netgear provides a one-year warranty for the adapter.

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    Top Comments
  • tortnotes
    And here I was hoping we could all be mature enough to act normally if--gasp!--there are photos of a woman.

    ..sigh.
    14
  • Other Comments
  • DjEaZy
    ... interesting... it is very hard to read the descriptions or look on the products... i wonder why... [?]
    -3
  • shubham1401
    That dress is cute!
    7
  • presidenteody
    i need a napkin
    -5
  • tacoslave
    presidenteodyi need a napkin


    o.k...
    6
  • tortnotes
    And here I was hoping we could all be mature enough to act normally if--gasp!--there are photos of a woman.

    ..sigh.
    14
  • tacoslave
    ok some troll went through all of our comments and by the way @presidentteody come on this is toms not fapfest 09 holiday edition! Leave the immaturity to the Apple fanboys!
    1
  • jebusv20
    tomshardware, a forum for men.

    with heads below the belt
    2
  • The Lady Slayer
    "PC Power & Cooling (now owned by OCZ) is likely the most respected name in PC power supplies."

    Only if you've never heard of Corsair.
    1
  • xaira
    was she really the best they could do?
    -17
  • nlcbryan
    oh my..i think i've been living in a hole or something. When i saw how they described the ZuneHD functionality, im horror struck! All in the small thing? even 10hrs ?? wow im amazed..
    1
  • Gedoe_
    +1 for using the same cute girl as last year (apparently your still together)
    0
  • cangelini
    gedoe_+1 for using the same cute girl as last year (apparently your still together)


    Hehe, last year Alicia, my wife, was in the gift guide. This year it's Sarah, who has done these since, I think, like 2005?
    6
  • Harby
    The Lady Slayer"PC Power & Cooling (now owned by OCZ) is likely the most respected name in PC power supplies."Only if you've never heard of Corsair.


    Actually, Corsair is better only if you've never heard of PCP&C. Unless you need modular bling crap that shoot lasers and whatnot.
    0
  • JohnnyLucky
    Does the Dell U2410 monitor have an IPS panel?
    0
  • cknobman
    maybe im in the minority here but the girl just dosnt do that much for me. Dont get me wrong shes not ugly or anything but just not my cup of tea.

    As for the zune description....very impressive :)
    -10
  • Anonymous
    Or you could get a 27 inch LG for 200 bucks cheaper.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824005127
    Tpk=W2753V%20PF
    -2
  • bill gates is your daddy
    I was going to add $0.02 and make some lurid comment about wanting Sarah to pose with my USB stick so I could take pictures and post on the interwebs but then I noticed something.

    How many pictures did this poor girl have to pose for? By the end of the photoshoot did you at least get her drunk for her troubles?
    0
  • tamalero
    The Lady Slayer"PC Power & Cooling (now owned by OCZ) is likely the most respected name in PC power supplies."Only if you've never heard of Corsair.



    you're clearly a sad individual and dont know about real quality if you claim that Corsair is better than PC Power & cooling.
    -5
  • Anonymous
    Actually, in the "low end" up to 850W Silencer series, Corsair and PC Power&Cooling uses the same parts look on reviews when they disassemble the PSUs both using Seasonic and Corsair is always cheaper so it is the way to go,I got a 850w 70amp/12v for the price of a 750 PC P&C and both offers 5 year of warranty. BUT if you want a 860w+ like the 1.2Kw PC Power&Cooling is the way to go(Better quality than the HX1000 from corsair) if you have the money. And the turbo cool series from PC P&C offers 7 years warranty.
    0
  • Anonymous
    I forgot to add the fan on the Corsairs vs PC P&C Silencer series, the corsairs 140mm which is much quieter than the Silencer series.The Turbo cool from pc p&c is 860w+
    0