A tiny challenger that needs to do better.
Size does matter, especially in the world of gadgets. Bigger screens, smaller phones, larger capacity drives – it seems everything around me is either expanding or shrinking. So I was rather nonchalant when I received the Belkin Surf N150 USB Wireless Micro Adapter for review. The device is a little bigger than my thumbnail, so I was interested to see if this little gem could live up to the task of being my wireless interface for the day.
Installation is very simple and is just a matter of popping in the supplied CD and then plugging the Belkin adapter in. I disabled my laptop’s Wi-Fi and instantly the Belkin Wireless Adapter kicked in with a flashing blue light, and Windows prompted me to connect to my home network. The device is compatible with most forms of wireless security such as WPS, WPA and WEP. Once I was connected, performance was quite good with streaming videos off my network drive, and I found that I was able to continue surfing upstairs in the guest bedroom where I previously wasn’t able to pick up a Wi-Fi signal. But strangely enough when I walked out into the garden, the signal suddenly dropped to just one bar, even though my router was just a few feet away behind a wall. I never had any issues with using my onboard Wi-Fi outside, so this was a bit peculiar.
The true beauty of the N150 Wireless Adapter is surely its size. Measuring just 18mm x 15mm, you can plug it into your laptop or desktop and completely forget about it. It’s almost flush with the side of my laptop, so it doesn’t cause any problems at all when I slide my laptop back into its carrier case. If you do decide to take it out, I suggest putting it someplace safe as it nearly disappeared into the depths of my bag!
Speeds using the Belkin N150 were overall satisfactory. It took me 14 minutes to transfer a 1.67GB file from my laptop to my network drive and just over 12 minutes to copy the same file with my onboard Wi-Fi. Apart from the issues with wireless coverage outside, I was able to stream comfortably from my media centre as well as YouTube without any interruptions. The only downside is that this is a Windows-only device (Ubuntu was able to detect it as a Belkin wireless adapter) and will not work on a Mac.
If you’re looking for a quick wireless replacement for your Windows based laptop or want to add some Wi-Fi to your desktop PC, then this little gem is for you. Its easy installation and ridiculously small footprint will charm most users, though be wary of the device’s drop in performance if you wander into the great outdoors.