Truth be told, until our review of ZyXEL’s G-200 USB adapter, we did not even know that ZyXEL existed. But any scepticism in our minds proved to be premature, as the G-200 outperformed even Netgear’s own USB adapter of the same class. Needless to say, when we were given the chance to test out ZyXEL’s newer version of the 802.11g USB adapter, the G-220 USB Stick, we jumped at the chance. The G-220 Wireless USB stick is sleeker, sexier, and fits right in your coat pocket. But does its performance match up to its appearance? Read on to find out.
The G-220 was packaged in a small, solid box.
It contained a small booklet containing documentation in several languages, though it perhaps a little too brief for an inexperienced network user. Fortunately, however, setting up the stylish USB stick required little effort, as we will see later.
The G-220 comes with a nice little blue pouch to protect it on the go, as well as an extension USB cable for optimal positioning.
Below is a close-up of the USB adapter pictured with its snap-on cap. Notice the solid construction and eye-catching design.
Despite the light documentation, setting up the G-220 was remarkably easy. We just popped the installation CD in our test laptop, followed the on-screen instructions, and within 2 minutes the driver was loaded onto our system. All that remained was to plug in the adapter, and we were online in no time.
Only later did we discover that a systematic installation guide was included on the CD. Though the guide was a nice addition for users who feel more secure looking at it, we found that installation was easy enough that we did not need it.
Several things distinguish the G-220 from the average wireless adapter. The most prominent feature is the G-220’s ability to serve as both a wireless client and access point; not only can it detect and access an existing wireless connection, but it can also act as a wireless hub. For example, say you have a wired internet connection on your host computer, but others want to connect wirelessly. The solution? Just plug the G-220 into the host computer and presto, others can connect to the internet via it, and no ad-hoc connectivity hassles to deal with. Refer to the diagram below for a visual perspective on the advantages of the Access Point function.
If you already have a wireless access point, be it a router or a wireless bridge, the G-220’s also functions as a normal wireless client. Simply plug it into an existing USB 2.0 or 1.1 (2.0 recommended) port and it will tap into your existing wireless connection in a few short moments. Below is a diagram highlighting the G-220’s functionality as a wireless client.
Another welcome feature is the addition of WPA security. In addition to the usual WEP encryption, the G-220 implements Wi-Fi Protect Access for a higher degree of security. This is especially useful for businesses or security-conscious home networkers.
Below are the results of our testing. We downloaded a 133.6mb file from a local server at varying distances. The average speeds are recorded in the graph below.
Below are the points at which the wireless signal would be passing through one or more walls. The number of walls the signal is travelling through follows the range in feet:
50ft- 1 wall
100ft- 2 walls
130ft- 3 walls
140ft- 4 walls
150ft- 5 walls
170ft- 6 walls
As you can see, the G-220 performed well at close ranges, though diminishing in speed until around the 170 feet mark where reception is completely lost. Though not too shabby an operational range, our test results are contradictory to ZyXEL’s advertised indoor range of eighty meters, or about 262.5 feet. Keep in mind however, that at 170 feet, the signal was blocked by six walls.
All things considered, the G-220 is an excellent choice your networking needs. It features extremely fast speeds at close ranges; ideal for households and small businesses, and a useful AP function to boot.
With an elegant and smart design, perfect for those constantly on the go, the G-220 is as attractive and intuitive as it is useful. Whether you are a security conscious business networker, or are simply looking for a quick and easy home networking solution, the G-220 will meet most all your needs.
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