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Gigabyte Goodies - Making computing fun

By: Cameron Johnson | Editorials in Motherboards | Posted: Aug 24, 2004 4:00 am

Gigabyte GN-WLBZ201 Wireless Module


Today wireless networking in the home and office is starting to become more and more mainstream, simply due to its ease of use and convenience. After all, isn't it easier to go through the airwaves than lay cables around your home and office? Granted, you aren't going to get the 10/100/1000 option, but it does allow for easy net, mail and fire sharing access. Adding wireless access to most PC's is simple - there is the PCI solution, for Laptops there is PCMCIA or USB. Gigabyte has come to the USB aid with their version of what a wireless LAN module should be.



The WLBZ201 is a small USB dongle, no longer than a DDR SDRAM module. This module can be installed to any system that has USB ports, which includes most laptops from the Pentium 2 stages all the way through to today's high-end options. This device uses the 802.11b standard for its communications, allowing for a theoretical maximum of 11mbps.



When connected the device has two rows of LED's. The upper row has two LED's - one green and one red. The green LED blinks until a wireless connection is made with an access point. When this is accomplished, four green LED's on the second row light up which indicate the signal strength. The red LED on the top row is the USB Media access. That's right, this baby has a built in 128MB flash memory storage. This come in handy, as you can store the drivers for the LAN module itself on the disk, this means that the when the device is plugged in, the USB drive gives direct access to the drivers.


Gigabyte packs its own software bundle with the drive, which gives it yet another feature, SoftAP (or Software Access Point). This feature is new, first designed my MSI, which allows the PC to operate as a Wireless Access Point, linking any Hardwired LAN to the Wireless LAN system. This can come in handy if you want to setup a Wireless Network in your home but don't want to pay for an Access Point - now your PC can do the work and save you some dollars.



Here the software is set to Station. In this mode the Wireless LAN module is simply linking to a Wireless Access Point or to an AD-HOC Wireless setup.



Here the software is set for Access point. Once set you can assign an SSID and channel for other devices to connect to.



The last feature of the unit is a separate secure locking facility. If you have personal data on the USB drive you don't want anyone to see, you can use this program that is built into an emulated FDD on the USB flash drive. This program encrypts the data in the flash drive, if you don't have the password, you don't get to see the contents of the drive.


Overall this dongle is the most feature packed Wireless LAN module, with software Access Point as standard, you can setup you laptop to be a access point for others in a business meeting, or simply just another wireless link. The addition of 128MB of storage space does come in handy, as you can then use the unit to backup sensitive data, and lock it so no one else can get access, unless they guess your password.


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