When my wife decided to get a backup internet service (she works at home via the internet) we elected to route one of our cable internet lines into her work computer and use our second line with our wireless router. This is great for our netbooks and PS3, but our desktop did not have a wireless card installed, so we decided to get a wireless adapter for it.
I chose the Cisco-Linksys AE1000 High-Performance Wireless-N Adapter. It cost me $60 at Best Buy and was more expensive than the basic and mid-level adapters. I picked it because my family likes to watch a lot of streaming video, and I wanted to have something that could handle a lot of data.
Per the specs on the box, it is a dual-band (operating at either 2.4 or 5 GHz bands), wireless-N, USB 2.0 adapter. The contents of the box included the adapter, a USB cord, a stand, and a disc. The disc quickly guided me through setting up the adapter, and I had it working in under a minute.
The stand is nice for desktop use, as it allows you to position the adapter on any flat surface. This allows for better reception than being plugged into one of the USB ports directly (although you can do this if you wish). I live in a relatively small house and have had zero reception problems. The miniature black adapter with blue light also looks kind of cool on its stand.
My home wireless network runs from my cable box to a Buffalo wireless-N router to the adapter. Comcast tells me I am getting 19 gigabytes per second of speed, but this varies. I have averaged around 7 gigs on the desktop, which is a vast improvement from the 3 I was receiving before. I run Windows Vista 64-bit and have experienced no compatibility issues. The box also states the adapter is compatible with Windows XP.
The package claims the adapter is Windows 7 compatible, but a quick check of various message boards reveals that some owners have had problems using it with this operating system. If you run Windows 7, be forewarned that this adapter might not work correctly.
The adapter is small enough that it can be used as a laptop adapter if you have an older laptop that does not possess a WiFi card. It comes with a cap that will cover the USB opening when it is not plugged into your computer. Of course, the WiFi you are connecting to must also be broadcasting in wireless-N for you to receive the full speed potential of the adapter.
The adapter downloads files quickly and streams video effortlessly with no buffering. The dual-band feature prevents it from suffering interference from other devices operating on the same frequency. This could be important if you have cordless phones or other similar devices in your home.
This purchase has been a win-win for me in every aspect. It is fast, it is small, it is portable, and it is reliable. I would highly recommend it to anybody looking for a wireless adapter with the one caveat that there are reports of compatibility issues with Windows 7.