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Client-side Helpers - Desktops

When improving the wireless connection to a desktop client there are a few more tricks that can be pulled out of the bag. The main thing to avoid, however, is desktop adapters that consist of a laptop-type PC card inserted into a PCI (or ISA) adapter. These will put your antenna in the absolute worst location, i.e. near the floor and behind a metal object (your PC). Depending on your room and desk's location, the antenna may also be facing an outside wall and away from your AP.

It's a must that any desktop adapter have an antenna at the end of a sufficiently long cable that it allows the antenna to be placed so that it can be clearly viewed from all points in your room. The antenna cable should preferably be attached to the adapter via a connector, which allows you to substitute a different antenna should you need to.

The other main approach to WLAN desktop connectivity is via a USB adapter. You may give up a little bit in maximum throughput because of the USB interface, but you'll gain the flexibility of being able to locate the adapter (and its built-in antenna) where needed to get an unobstructed "view". For this application, a cabled USB adapter is preferred over the newer miniature types that can plug directly into a USB port.

Less likely to be used due to their higher cost, are the newer Wireless Ethernet bridge products such as Linksys' WET11. These require that your computer already have an Ethernet port, but don't require the installation of a driver to get up and running. There's no real signal-enhancing advantage that these products provide, however. Same goes for using a Linksys WAP11 or other AP that supports AP Client mode, i.e. the ability to connect to an Access Point or wireless router.

All this talk about antenna placement reminds me that I need to tell you how to select and install them. So next section, please...

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