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Gigabyte GN-WLBZ201 USB/802.11b Dongle Review

Gigabyte GN-WLBZ201 USB/802.11b Dongle Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: 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.
 87% Rating:   
Filed under: Networking Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Jan 26 2004   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Networking > Gigabyte GN-WLBZ201

Using the GN-WLBZ201 Memory key function

The GN-WLBZ201 is available in 32MB, 64MB, 128MB or 256MB versions. We tested the 32MB model.

Using the memory key function of the GN-WLBZ201 proved to be a fairly painless procedure, as it should be. Plugging the device into our Windows XP Pro test machine installed the necessary USB mass storage drivers automatically. Using 'my computer' we were able to access the device (which appeared as a removable drive) and copy files to it straight away.

File transfer speed was exactly what you would expect from a USB 1.1 device. Not too fast, but tolerable. A 20MB file transfer took a little over 25 seconds. One minor annoyance with using the device as a memory key cropped up. Since the GN-WLBZ201 is also a wireless network adaptor, it wants to install drivers for that function each time it is plugged in.

This is fine if you want to install the NIC drivers, but if you don't there is unfortunately no way to stop the driver prompt from popping up each time. On a fast system, this is a pretty minor concern, but on a slow system the USB detection and driver install prompt can really bog down windows. In this respect, the GN-WLBZ201 does not function as well as a solo USB memory key would. In future models, a manual switch to enable or disable the network card function could be ideal.

Memory key security feature

The GN-WLBZ201 uses a password protection scheme to prevent sensitive data stored on the key from falling into the wrong hands.

To begin with, the actual memory space inside the GN-WLBZ201 is partitioned into two separate areas: A storage space for your data that appears to Windows as a removable drive and an additional 1.44MB space that contains the password security program itself (UDP.EXE) and a PDF document explaining how to use it. The 1.44MB space is detected by Windows as an additional floppy drive.

The GN-WLBZ201 has a switch on the side that controls whether the key is in 'normal' (or 'HDD') mode, in which both memory partitions are available, or 'security ('FDD') mode where only the 1.44MB section with the security program can be accessed.

If you are using Windows XP, this switch is useless since you can access the 'security' memory section with the password program on it even when the device is in 'normal' mode. However, if you are using pre-service pack 3 Windows 2000 the switch is essential. More on this later.

The security program (which can be run directly from the memory key) brings up a simple password status dialog. From here you can set a password. Once the password is set, removing the key from the USB slot will lock it. The next time it is inserted into the computer, the data portion of the memory will not be accessible until the user runs the password program again and unlocks the device by entering the correct password.

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GN-WLBZ201
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GN-WLBZ201 USB/802.11b Dongle Review
 Pg 2.  — Using the GN-WLBZ201 Memory key function
 Pg 3.  Data Security Protection
 Pg 4.  Wireless Benchmarks and Conclusions

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