Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
TRENDnet TEW-429UB USB Wi-Fi Adapter & Hotspot Detector
- Works perfectly, Easy to use
- Bundled software a little confusing
The TEW-429UB works well and the added hotspot detector function is supremely useful.
Price$ 129.00 (AUD)
The TrendNET TEW-429UB is an 802.11b/g wireless adapter that connects to your computer via USB 2.0. The adapter, which also includes a 512MB of flash memory and a hotspot detector that works when the device is not connected to the PC, is a great tool for travelling notebook users.
Setting up the adapter is very simple. It comes with an installation CD which has an all-in-one driver and Wi-Fi utility program. The driver and utility software must be installed before you can use the adapter.
Upon installation the software disables the native Windows wireless configuration utility, taking control of all configuration options. In order to connect to a wireless network, you need to start the TrendNET utility software and either configure the software or instruct the software to re-enable the native Windows configuration utility.
The TrendNET wireless utility program itself is a little confusing to use. The printed quick start guide provided in the box is of little help, and you really need to follow the step-by-step PDF guide located on the installation CD-ROM.
We tried using the device without first reading the documentation and had no problems attaching to an unsecured network when clicking on the 'Connect' button. However, when the network is using security, the 'Connect' button only returns a dialogue box which in our instance informed us that "This network uses WPA-PSK. Please configure WPA-PSK". No option was provided from there to enter that security information, nor was any further information provided in the dialogue box. The program did not even include a help function. After scrolling through the PDF documentation on the CD and finding the appropriate page, we discovered that to connect we had to create a "connection profile" with the appropriate settings and necessary passwords. Yes it all worked, and yes, once we followed the CD-based manual it was not difficult. Was it intuitive? No. The native Windows utility in contrast handles Wi-Fi connections with ease and is simple to use.
The hotspot detector worked flawlessly. This function works independent of a PC connection with results displayed on the small monochrome LCD screen. A switch on the bottom of the unit turns the detector on. The device scans for Wi-Fi networks and then displays the number of connections found, the SSID name of the connections (if applicable), the signal strength, security protocols (if any) and the type of Wi-Fi protocol being used (802.11b or 802.11g). The user can then scroll through the information on each connection. The device worked well during testing; only taking a few seconds to scan for networks. It found all the Wi-Fi hotspots in our office and found numerous hotspots during our field tests.
It comes with a lanyard and a protective cap for the USB connector. Our review unit was the 2006 Limited Edition World Cup version which is all white with soccer balls printed on the front and rear. The standard version has a basic blue finish without the soccer theme.
If you are constantly on the move and like to take advantage of wireless hotspots, this product is a good choice.
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