StarTech CB511WB 11Mbit Cardbus
The StarTech 11Mbit has a nice sleek design without an external antenna; the antenna is internal with the PCMCIA card. It also provides one LED light for transmission and receiving activity, and one for link connectivity. The LEDs are clearly visible, yet not over-bright for those who enjoy working in low-lit rooms. (Tx/Rx Orange – Link Green LEDs)
Earlier I mentioned the antenna was internal, as most are for laptops. However, upon reading the specs on this particular card, I found that it in fact has two internal antennas, and provides 100 meters, or 328 feet, communication range. I found this to be a huge benefit; that’s great range for something its size. This definitely provides more capability. And with multiple bit rates, 11, 5.5, 2 & 1 Mbps, which dynamically switch as needed, it certainly enhances both flexibility and reliability.
Speaking of multiple bit rates, the StarTech Cardbus provides multiple voltage features as well to help limit drain on your laptop battery by enabling, when turned on, lower voltages. This feature can be a major benefit for those who will be on their laptops for long periods of time using battery power. This feature, of course, must be set up at the user end via the software/drivers.
In our period of time using this cardbus, we have been pleased with its ability to provide stable high speed connections: first at home using our 54g wireless network, second at a T-Mobile Hotspot wireless connection. The TMobile connection had a very strong signal. The StarTech CB511WB 11Mbit also does a great job of reducing interference from other sources, so during all our time drinking massive amounts of coffee at Starbucks, we never experienced any disconnects or disruption. (Venti Mochas rock!)
54g and 11Mbit Issues?
There are no real issues with 54g wireless networking with 11Mbit cards, but you will find a slowdown issue on the network. 54g wireless routers manuals will typically warn you about using 11Mbit cards on your wireless network, and here’s why: when using 54g wireless networking throughout your network, all machines will operate with 54Mbit speeds (provided they have good signal), but when a 11Mbit wireless connection is introduced to the network, like a laptop or computer using an 11Mbit card, all of the other computers on the 54g wireless network will then operate at 11Mbit. This is quite normal.
There are 54g wireless PCMCI cards for laptops, but wide use of wireless 54g in hotspots is not yet common. We’re just now starting to see 54g wireless PCMCI cards on the market. So be warned if you’re going to throw a laptop onto a 54g network supporting other computers – they’ll all run at the lowest common denominator speed.
- Belkin 54g Wireless Router (Transmitter)
- Compaq Armada 1500c (Celeron 400Mhz w/96MB memory) (Receiver)
Network Stumbler v3.3
The above image illustrates that this card does in fact work within the specifications listed by the manufacturer, in the -80dBm range . The benchmark was done through one floor with a metal duct between router and laptop.
The StarTech.com CB511WB 11Mbit Cardbus provides the necessary security along with the desired performance. There are many brands out there to choose from, but our thoughts on this card are simple: don’t leave home without it. Its flexibility in modifying voltages to save on battery usage and its variety of connection speeds definitely provides more options. We have yet to encounter any problems with it, and continually use it in our day-to-day laptop activities. Definitely a nice addition to any laptop.
While wireless technology is rapidly changing, we did expect a steep price on this product. However, StarTech.com has it nicely price at around $45.99 USD. The only thing you need to provide is the wireless router (your own hotspot) in your house/business–that is, unless you’re a heavy coffee drinker!