Monday, January 25, 2010

Wireless woes

My daughter's nagging finally got the better of me over the weekend, and I relented and agreed to move our second, older desktop from the "study" into her bedroom. This leaves the newer desktop for me/my son, though it's mostly him as I spend most of my time on the Macbook Pro now.

So between us we undid all the connections and took it into her bedroom and set it up again, only for me to realise it had been hooked directly to the router via a cable and I didn't have a wireless card/adapter around. Ah, should have seen her little face when she realised she'd have to wait a day until she could hook up to MSN Messenger and all her chums again....even though she'd see them all at school today! (she's 13 this year by the way).

So today I popped into PC World on my way home and bought a Belkin N150 Enhanced Wireless USB Network Adapter (model F6D4050). The box didn't mention Win 7 compatibility (in fact none of the various makes/models did), so assuming everything would work (why sell kit that wouldn't eh?) I stumped up the cash.

When I tried to install it however, it refused point blank to play citing an error message about a missing *.msi file path. I hunted the install CD, and Belkin's support site to no avail, and even downloaded the latest drivers (which I think are the same as those on the install CD. Google suggested very quickly that Win 7 was a bit of an issue unless you installed in XP compatibility mode - not available on my version of Win 7. Somewhat miffed I returned post haste to PCW (which is rather conveniently or dangerously depending on your point of view, only about 5 mins away in the car). Despite my protestations that I knew what I was talking about the chap frowned, muttered and said he's be back in a minute -actually it was nearer 10. He said he'd found a forum where someone had built their own Windows 7 driver (I kid you not) for this device. I suggested to him that that's not really what I should have to do. To be fair though, he went and got all the other flavours of USB wireless adapters and did a quick search and came back to tell me that two of them had Win 7 drivers available as downloads from the manufacturer support site, and the other one from a support forum.

In the end I took the Linksys Rangeplus WUSB100, one he said needed a download from the Linksys site, and which cost £4 more than the Belkin (and looked smarter too - D'oh).

Once I got home, I just installed the thing from CD - first time. No download necessary. Up and running in 2 minutes. Good on you Linksys.

I've had some problems with Belkin kit before, so I think I'll steer clear of it for good now.

One final moan. Why do you need a box the size of a small house to sell what in effect is a thumb size wireless adapter with 1 CD and a couple of bits of paper is beyond me.

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