For the asking price of around $50 USD including taxes and shipping (get the latest pricing from our shopping comparison site), we think that the TRENDnet 300Mbps Wireless N USB 2.0 adapter is a good deal right off the blocks. However, it is not without its faults.
For one, currently there are no drivers available to use the adapter under 64-bit versions of Windows 2000, XP and Vista and we haven't been told when or if they will become available. Hopefully this is something that the folks over at TRENDnet are working on, as the uptake of 64-bit operating systems is coming on thick and fast, with more and more systems coming with 4GB of RAM and more.
At close range, the TRENDnet 300Mbps Wireless N USB 2.0 adapter offers pretty good relative performance, but obviously, well under the claimed theoretical maximum of 300Mbps - and nowhere near the claimed 12 times faster than a standard Wireless G setup, as labeled on the box. That let us down, but we should have learnt by now not to go by the marketing quotes, when it comes to wireless networking hardware.
We thought that the TRENDnet 300Mbps Wireless N USB 2.0 adapter would be a nice upgrade for someone running 802.11g wireless on their notebook and would like a little speed boost - hence the way we tested. You'll see that speed boost at close range (in the same room up to around 1 or 2 meters) but as soon as you move any further away, the adapter struggles. We were able to stream 720p HD video at a range of distances up to about 10 meters away very smoothly, but while we could stream 1080p HD video, it skipped frames and was fuzzy at times and I wouldn't consider it playable bearable. The device is built pretty well and is nice and light; we have no doubts about that, but at range when the radio signal is put to the test, it's clear that built-in wireless networking on notebooks offers better performance, especially since most have built-in antennas running up the sides of the LCD panels. Little USB adapters are unable to compete against that at the end of the day.
That leaves us wondering... should we recommend this product at all? It might be okay if you are using this adapter on an old notebook using older 802.11b wireless technology (which has a maximum transfer rate of 11Mbps), but if you have a newer notebook using 802.11g, you'd more than likely be better off sticking to the onboard wireless networking, unless it sucks on your particular notebook.
We will be sticking to using the built-in wireless networking on the Hypersonic notebook.
On a side note - TRENDnet is working on a High Power Wireless N USB adapter which isn't quite ready yet. It includes a base with a 1.5 meter high antenna (promising to offer two times the coverage of standard Wireless N adapters) and that is sure to offer some kick-ass performance. We look forward to testing it!
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