Gigabyte GN-WLBZ201 USB/802.11b Dongle Review
Now here's a new idea! For
the GN-WLBZ201 Gigabyte has combined two of the most popular USB accessories;
memory keys and wireless network adaptors into a single product. On one hand this makes a lot of sense.
After all, it's not like the
components of either the NIC or the memory key themselves take up much space,
and it saves you the hassle both of paying for them separately and of plugging
them in separately. Certainly a boon for mobile
users. On the other hand, it's an odd
combination which may not function as smoothly as a separate network adaptor and
memory key would. Read on and we'll tell you why.
The Gigabyte GN-WLBZ201 comes in a small
cardboard box, including only the device itself and a CD. Kudos to Gigabyte for
resisting the temptation to package the device in one of those bulletproof
stamped plastic containers. With the lid on,
the GN-WLBZ201 presents a small, attractive silver package resembling a
highlighter pen in appearance and weight.
Manual, driver CD.
Along the side is the
(mostly useless) security mode switch. A set of six discrete LEDs run along
the bottom end of the device. These are arranged in a row of 2 and a row of four
respectively. The first two lights indicate the link status (whether the adaptor
is connected to a wireless network) and data transmission to and from the
device's memory respectively.
four lights on the second row indicate the strength of the wireless connection
from one (lowest) to four. This is an extremely useful feature for a wireless
card, as the user can find the best areas for signal strength merely by looking
at the card, rather than going through software.
Removing the lid reveals the
USB 1.1 connector and one more useful feature. The GN-WLBZ201's USB plug is
capable of moving 180 degrees vertically and swiveling 90 degrees to either
side. This gives much needed flexibility both in plugging in the device, since
it is much bigger than a standard USB memory key, and in using the GN-WLBZ201 as
an antenna to obtain better wireless reception. Nice feature.
The CD contains drivers for the
wireless adaptor built into the GN-WLBZ201, Windows 98 drivers for the USB
memory key (not necessary for 2000 or XP users) and an additional copy of the
security software already installed onto the device.