Pros Retractable antenna was the main reason for purchase. I still use it, but only at home near my WAP. Where it would make as much sense just to buy a 50ft ethernet cable.
Cons range at many hotspots is poor compared to other users, high price, has issues with linux, antenna feels flimsy
Pros Retractable feature is super. Its range is equivalent of any other card I have ever used.
Cons Driver is incompatible with WinXP if all the Microsoft updates were installed. You must uninstall one of them!
Summary Based on the comments of Ken on the 6th of March I decided to purchase this card. Although the card only comes in a box along with a warrenty and a CD with simple pictures of what to do with the CD (insert it into the drive), I found it a doddle to install. I chose just to insert the card in, let Windows XP find the driver on the CD and didnt install the extra software that came on the CD. XP seems to have found my wireless LAN (I'm running a Linksys wireless router) and I connected no problem. The range of the card isnt a problem at all, as I write this there are 3 doors and 4 walls between me and the base station and I'm still on 'Very good signal' and have been listening uninterupted to a Windows Media Player radio station. The card also functions with the XJack inside the case although not very good range - about 2 meters max. I didnt want to buy a wireless card that I needed to keep removing from my laptop and this is so simple to just press the jack in and out when I need to. I was fairly worried about the jack snapping off but it seems to be of highly robust build. I'm very happy with my this purchase and new found freedom. The only reason I;ve marked down the support is due to lack of any more documentation - I think the setup might be slightly daunting for newcomers to networking. I trust that if I do have any problems that a big name like 3Com is there to support me.
Summary Despite of the two negative reviews, I actually liked it very much and thus decided to write some positive comments about this product. First of all, I did not get the exact model reviewed by CNET. I got a similar model (3CRSHPW196) which all is a 802.11b card with Xjack. Here is what I liked about the product: 1) the retractable antenna is great for traveling. It is so convenient. 2) I don't notice any problem with the reception compared to the Linksys and Microsoft cards. When the antenna is extended, it worked at least just as well as the others, or even better. In my house the access point is on the second floor, and I still get 'Excellent' strength (the strongest grade) in the first floor. With the Microsoft card, I only get 'Very good' (the second strongest grade). 3) With the model that I got (3CRSHPW196, see 3Com website), the card is NOT shut down when the antenna is retracted. The reception is reduced through, as expected. But the really nice thing is, I am able to work with the antenna retracted in my office when the access point is only 1 meter away. Why do I want to do that? I own a Sony Vaio notebook, which has its PCMCIA slot located right underneath my left palm (when typing). Therefore the regular (unretractable) antenna will get in the way of my left hand. Now, the antenna is nicely hidden, and it's like working with a laptop with integrated wireless LAN. Nice! 4) When the access point is far away, I do have to extend the antenna, and my left palm would be resting right on top the antenna. However the antenna is built strong to withstand the pressure, therefore no problem. 5) I did not have ANY problem setting up the card, and I am not even an IT person. Popped the card in, computer asked for drivers, put the CD in, that's it. I did not install any of the software the come with the card through. I never do it, for any of the LAN card I've used. It is unnecessary, and a waste of hard-drive space. Overall, I do like my 3COM Xjack wireless LAN card very much. I do not have any complains about it like others. No, I don't work for 3COM. I just though it is not nearly as bad as what it seems. The Xjack is really convenient, it makes me feel like I have an integrated wireless LAN.