Windows XP users, however, are simply told to install their XP driver from the disc and to refer to their Windows XP documentation. There's some sense to this method; XP's own Wireless Network Connection utility provides all the features you need to configure the card. But given the wealth of the manual's clear, useful information in Linksys's own Instant Wireless Configuration Utility, it seems odd that the company omits any explanation of the often-confusing Windows XP utility. At the very least, the manual should instruct you to right-click the wireless network connection and select Properties/Wireless Networks/Configure to start the Windows utility.
Linksys wireless connection icon in Windows taskbar.
Well-organized tabs appear across the top of the configuration utility screen for Link Info, Configuration, Site Survey, Encryption, and Advanced features. The Configuration tab is particularly handy, as it lets you choose ad-hoc or infrastructure mode, the Service Set Identifier (SSID), and power-saving options all in one place. The Link Quality and Signal Strength readouts on the Link Info panel are also quite useful, and the Advanced features are so well explained within the manual that Windows XP users would do well to have a look, even though the options are arranged differently. Like most of its competitors, the Linksys WPC11 offers both 64- and 128-bit WEP encryption options.
Configuration tab of the Wireless Configuration Utility.
The Linksys WPC11 Instant wireless network adapter delivered average performance, clocking in at 4.9Mbps on our throughput test. In informal range tests, the Linksys tied the Netgear WAB501 dual-band PC Card but came up just short of the mark set by the Proxim Orinoco World PC Card. Still, it should offer plenty of range for most home environments.
| Throughput tests |
Measured in Mbps (longer bars indicate better performance)
| Chariot 802.11b response time |
Measured in milliseconds (shorter bars indicate better performance)
| Range test |
Relative performance in typical office setting
For practical throughput tests, CNET Labs uses NetIQ's Chariot 4.3 software as its benchmark. For wireless testing, the clients and the routers are set up to transmit at short ranges and at maximum signal strength. CNET Labs' response-time tests are also run with Chariot software using the TCP protocol. Response time measures how long it takes to send a request and receive a response over a network connection. Throughput and response time are probably the two most important indicators of user experience over a network.
Linksys's tech support runs the gamut. On the downside, you get a very short, one-year warranty on the card, which the company tries to make up for with its toll free, 24/7 phone support. In addition, the Linksys Web site provides e-mail support along with an enormous knowledge base and a large quantity of general information about networking.
Linksys support site.