If you’re planning to set up a wireless network at home or in the office, but don’t really fancy digging around inside your PC, the Buffalo AirStation WLI-USB-G54 USB adapter might be just what you’re looking for. It’s a compact size USB 2.0 wireless adapter for 802.11g and 802.11b networks and the great thing is that it’s dead easy to set up.
Let’s start with what you get in the box. You get pretty much everything you need including a USB cable and two stands; one desktop and one wall mount. There is of course a driver CD and a quick install booklet supplied as well. There’s no need for a power adapter as the WLI-USB-G54 draws its power directly from the USB bus.
Installation couldn’t be easier, as all you do is put the CD in your optical drive and plug the WLI-USB-G54 in to a suitable USB 2.0 port. The WLI-USB-G54 will work fine over a USB 1.1 interface but you won’t be able to take advantage of the 54Mbits/sec bandwidth of 802.11g.
Of course you have to go trough the normal Windows driver installation procedure but it’s all pretty painless and I encountered no problems. You do have to set up the network connection, but this is something you have to do with all network adapters whether wireless or not.
The range of the WLI-USB-G54 is first class and if you find that you need to boost it there is a connector for an external booster antenna, like the Buffalo WLE-NDR. There should however be no need for this in your average office or home environment, but it’s good to see that Buffalo offers the option of an external antenna if you need one.
In general use the WLI-USB-G54 works well and I had no problems using it in throughout all the rooms in my flat at full speed. I also did some file transfer tests to see how fast the WLI-USB-G54 was. I connected to my main home PC via a Buffalo WLA-G54C 802.11g access point and the results can be seen below. When used with another suitably equipped Buffalo product you can engage the “Turbo Mode” which will give you improved performance, although in my test the improvement was marginal.
The WLI-USB-G54 is a great solution if you want easy to install wireless networking. Because it’s a USB adapter, you’re not limited to using it with only one PC making it a much more versatile solution than a PCI card. There is however one downside, the pretty steep price of £62.86, which I feel it a little high. That said, it is well made and supports Buffalo’s turbo mode for increased performance with other Buffalo products.
The WLI-USB-G54 is an easy to use wireless adapter with the added versatility of being swappable between PCs. It does everything it’s supposed to do very well, but it is a little expensive.