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How to get your Wi-Fi working again

Out with the old, in with the new

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Verdict

I didn't set out to do an exhaustive test of numerous wireless kit makers' products - though a number of well-known names were asked to participate and chose not to submit kit. Instead, I wanted to see what options as well as the as-yet-non-standard 802.11n are open to WLAN users who've hit the limits of standard 802.11g technology.

Clearly, 802.11n is the way to go in the medium term, since it provides not only greater bandwidth than 802.11g but delivers the kind of 802.11g performance that the more advanced 802.11g-only routers and adaptors offer. If you only want wireless networking, it's hard to recommend anything other than 802.11n. If you can wait for dual-band devices to fall in price - not that Apple's AirPort Express is particularly more expensive than single-band kit - it seems prudent to do so for access to the cleaner air the 5GHz band provides.

And if you'd like to wait but need an 802.11g deadlock-buster now, then powerline provides a way to reach dead spots or eliminate them by adding extra access points, though this approach is little cheaper than going for 2.4GHz-only 802.11n.

So much depends on your own circumstances, however. But hopefully at least one of these options will help you solve your Wi-Fi woes.

With 802.11n Draft 2.0 updates for existing next-gen Wi-Fi kit due in the next few months and Wi-Fi Alliance interoperability testing coming soon after, we're now in a position to consider 802.11n as fixed as it can be without the IEEE standards body's stamp of approval. As a result, Register Hardware will begin testing 802.11n products in their own right very shortly.

The products
Product Rated speed Price Notes
Powerline WLAN extenders
Netgear WGBX102 14Mbps £82 Two-unit pack
Solwise NET-PL-85PEW 85Mbps £57.50 Single-unit pack
Powerline adaptors
Devolo dLAN AVdesk 200Mbps 200Mbps £75 HomePlug AV standard, one-unit pack cross-platform software
Netgear HDX101 200Mbps £65 DS2 Opera standard, single-unit pack
Solwise PL-200AV 200Mbps £61 HomePlug AV standard, single-unit pack
802.11g enhancer
Netgear WPN824 RangeMax MIMO router 208Mbps £90 Extra speed only with compatible adaptor
802.11n
Apple Airport Extreme 300Mbps £119 Dual-band - 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Belkin N1 Wireless Router 300Mbps £90 Single-band - 2.4GHz
Belkin N1 Wireless PC Card 300Mbps £60 Single-band - 2.4GHz
Belkin N1 Wireless USB adaptor 300Mbps £75 Single-band - 2.4GHz
Netgear WN511T RangeMax Next PC Card 300Mbps £80 Single-band - 2.4GHz
Netgear W121NT RangeMax Next USB adaptor 300Mbps £65 Single-band - 2.4GHz

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