Linksys’ inelegantly named WUSBF54G is not just an 802.11b/g network adapter, it’s also a handy Wi-Fi finder. It’s just the ticket for frequent travelers, especially those with laptops predating 802.11g.
The Wi-Fi finder aggressively snoops out wireless routers and displays their SSID and operating channel on its 1.5-inch LCD. It proved capable of detecting our test router from a range of 120 feet (with two residential-construction walls in between). It also sniffed out two of our neighbors’ Wi-Fi routers. The device will advise you whether detected routers are secure (one of our neighbor’s wasn’t), but its simple padlock icon won’t tell you what type of security—WPA or simple WEP—is in use. The LCD isn’t backlit, either, so bring a flashlight if you plan to go war-driving in the dark.
The WUSBF54G is on the chunky side (measuring 3.78 inches long, 1.14 inches wide, and 0.63 inches thick), and it blocked the adjacent USB port on our test laptop. But Linksys provides a docking cradle with a 4-foot cable, which enables you to orient the adapter to receive the strongest possible signal while it charges its Li-ion battery.
We were also pleased with the WUSBF54G’s real-world performance as a Wi-Fi adapter. Although we didn’t get anywhere near the mythological 54Mb/s promised by the 802.11g standard, throughput of 18.2Mb/s enabled us to transfer a 239MB test file from our laptop to a PC hardwired to the router in just one minute, 45 seconds.