Setting up the Linksys WPC54GS notebook adapter with SpeedBooster is fool-proof. The adapter comes with a printed quick-installation guide that walks you through the process, which consists of installing the software on the accompanying CD and inserting the PC Card into your laptop. This takes about two minutes. The guide also gives you instructions on how to disable the Wireless Zero Configuration tool built into Windows XP so that you can use Linksys's Wireless Network Monitor to configure the WPC54GS. You can use either utility to manage the WPC54GS, but we recommend that you use Linksys's configuration tool because it provides more granular information about available network connections. For example, the Linksys Wireless Network Monitor lets you see the operating channels of neighboring networks, which can help you avoid interference by identifying a less crowded channel for your own network.
The WPC54GS includes support for WEP and WPA encryption. This makes the adapter both backward compatible with networks using older and weaker WEP encryption and forward compatible with networks that have already moved, or plan to move, to the newer and stronger WPA encryption scheme.
The WPC54GS uses Broadcom's Afterburner technology for its speed enhancements. Afterburner has both advantages and disadvantages compared with the Atheros-based speed enhancements in the D-Link DWL-G650 and the Netgear WG511T. In terms of raw performance, Atheros delivers better results with regard to both throughput and range. But the Atheros solution relies on channel bonding, which uses a wide swath of spectrum and is more apt to create interference for neighboring networks than Linksys's SpeedBooster products are. The SpeedBooster, a.k.a. Afterburner, solution enhances speed while limiting itself to a single nonoverlapping channel, which makes it a good alternative if you live in a dorm or an apartment building with neighboring wireless networks.
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The Linksys WPC54GS notebook adapter with SpeedBooster comes with a respectable three-year warranty and one of the best all-around support packages in the business. You get toll-free, 24/7 support for the lifetime of the product and a wealth of helpful online support offerings that include product-specific setup guidelines for multiple operating systems, FAQs, troubleshooting solutions, driver updates, live chat with support staff, and a copious knowledge database that contains how-to information for the WPC54GS's setup and configuration, as well as fixes for a wide array of common networking issues.