Round-up: 802.11g-based USB 2.0 Adapters - Page 3

By Joseph Moran

January 20, 2004

D-Link AirPlus XtremeG High-Speed 2.4GHz Wireless USB Adapter

Model: DWL-G120
Price: $69
Pros: Small size
Cons: Uses special USB cable

Next to the IOGear adapter, the D-Link DWL-G120 is the smallest adapter of the group, easily fitting in even a shirt pocket -- and its definitely the smallest of those using a cable tether. The DWL-G120 is based on the GlobespanVirata PRISM GT chipset, and the unit's short, thin 1.5 dB dipole antenna swivels 360-degrees from its mount. [[After this review was published, D-Link seems to have released a new form factor of this product with the same model number. -- 2/6/04]]

Because of its small size though, the DWL-G120 is the only USB adapter tested that doesn't use a standard USB device cable. To accommodate its thin and small footprint, the DWL-G120 includes a cable with a mini-USB connector on the device side. That's fine, but since those cables aren't as common as standard cables, replacing a lost or damaged one, especially in a pinch, might be more difficult.

Installation of the DWL-G120 was uneventful on a Windows XP notebook. D-Link installs its device configuration utility even with XP, and the utility is essentially the same as that which ships with other D-Link products. So in addition to being able to clearly see network signal and link strength, you can also adjust the transmit data rate and define multiple network profiles.

Like the other adapters in the group, WPA is not yet available with the DWL-G120 client, only via XP or external supplicant. D-Link says both WPA and 802.1X authentication support will be forthcoming in an update in early 2004, and that Wi-Fi certification is pending as well.

The signal between the DWL-G120 and the access point tended to be weaker and more unstable than those of the other products tested. Signal strength as measured by the client utility rarely rose above about 50%, and it (along with the data rate) fluctuated significantly, even when the unit remained in a fixed location.

This probably helps explain why the performance of the DWL-G120 was somewhat off the pace of the other products. Peak throughput at 10 feet was only 17.1, almost 20% less than the fastest products in the group (or a typical WLAN CardBus adapter for that matter). At 125 feet, throughput was down to 10.4 Mbps, and enabling WPA at 10 feet dropped throughput to 14.21 Mbps.

Given the slightly blunted performance of the DWL-G120 compared to the other products and the possible ramifications of misplacing or losing or the special mini-USB cable I'd probably take a pass on the D-Link in favor of another device in this group.

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