QuickerTek recently released several new Wi-Fi adapters at prices well below both their previous prices and the prices of adapters from other providers of wireless alternatives to Apple’s gear. The adapters include both 802.11g and 802.11n adapters to complement or update the firm’s existing lineup.
While Apple has offered AirPort Extreme with 802.11g since 2003 as an optional or included adapter card or built-in interface on all Macs, and more recently upgraded to 802.11n on Macs with Intel Core 2 Duo chips shipping since October 2006, many Macs lag behind the fastest speed they could support.
An AirPort Extreme Card costs only $49 but can’t be installed in all the Macs that support at least Mac OS X 10.3, the earliest release with robust support for modern Wi-Fi security. Any USB-equipped Mac running Mac OS X 10.3 can use either QuickerTek’s nNano USB, a $59.95 USB dongle that supports the latest 802.11n draft standard, or the 802.11g-based Nano USB for $49.95. The nNano is, by far, the cheapest option for 802.11n for a Mac that doesn’t have 802.11n built in. The company also offers a $149.95 USB adapter, the nQuicky with USB, priced that way because of its higher-powered radio and external antennas; it requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
QuickerTek also released a new PCI card version of their nQuicky PCI Upgrade Kit, now priced at $99.95 (down $50 from the previous price). The PCI card works with Power Mac models containing PowerPC G3, G4, and G5 chips running Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, except for the Power Mac G5 model with DDR2 memory chip support. (The less-expensive USB options work with the G5 but lack the nQuicky’s range-extending external antenna.)
The nQuicky PCMCIA/CardBus Upgrade Kit price has also dropped to from $149.95 to $64.95. It works with PowerBooks with CardBus slots running Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. For the subset of PowerBook users who run Mac OS X 10.3 or later and have no Wi-Fi built in, or have only the original 802.11b AirPort card, you can upgrade to 802.11g via a CardBus slot for just $49.95 with the b/g Quicky CardBus.
QuickerTek supports just the 2.4 GHz band for 802.11n, the most commonly used set of frequencies for Wi-Fi. 802.11b and 802.11g can use only the 2.4 GHz band; 802.11a uses only the higher-frequency and less-occupied 5 GHz band. 802.11n can use either band, but 802.11n equipment makers can choose to support either or both bands in a single device.
Apple chose to support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz in its 802.11n AirPort Extreme adapters and base station models. In 5 GHz, you can see speeds of up to 90 Mbps between similar adapters and 140 Mbps from wireless to wired connections using the latest gigabit AirPort Extreme Base Station released earlier this month (see “AirPort Base Station Upgraded to Gigabit Ethernet,” 2007-08-13). In 2.4 GHz, speeds are still an improvement over 802.11g’s mid-20 Mbps range, providing from 30 Mbps to 70 Mbps, depending on circumstances.
You can read more about using 802.11n in my book “Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Extreme Network,” which will be released in a new edition shortly – free to purchasers of the current book release – to cover the revised gigabit AirPort Extreme Base Station.