D-Link DWL-122 802.11b USB Adapter Review
By Zack Bryce, Tech Lab Manager
August 10th, 2003
Updated Sept. 12th, 2003

It never stops to amaze us how WiFi, or WLAN (Wireless Local Area Networking), hardware continues to evolve into faster, more intricate or simple and sometimes even miniaturized. One of the leading major progenitors of this fascinating evolution is D-Link Systems Inc.

On July 2nd D-Link introduced the thumb-sized DWL-122 USB 802.11b adapter; when you see it, you’d think it was actually a Flash Thumb-Drive. While not part of D-Link’s “Enhanced” 22Mbps AirPlus 802.11b device family, this tiny 11 Mbps WLAN is special none-the-less.

The feature that excited us the most, was that the DWL-122 was claimed to be Windows and Mac OS X Jaguar compatible. We promptly requested a test sample to fully test and review.

I know that you will be as impressed with the size and construction of the tiny USB 802.11b transceiver as we were. It is only slightly larger than D-Link’s DBT-120 Wireless USB Bluetooth adapter, which is the smallest adapter we’ve ever seen for PC or Macintosh.

We began our testing on Windows PC’s first, Selecting three likely system candidates from our Tech Lab pool. Asking ourselves, “why would you need to use this particularly small 802.11b device over a larger one?”; pretty easy to guess that it would be size, portability and price. We grabbed a three plus year old Compaq Presario 1200XL notebook, an 18-month-old HP Omnibook and a pretty common.
Click on all images for larger view. DWL-122 & DBT-120




The DWL-122 is a natural for notebooks with USB 1.1 and only a single CardBus slot that you need to use for something else, like all Compaq’s. While there is plenty of CardBus WiFi cards in the same $49.95 price range; USB 1.1 uses less power, which means slightly better battery life on a notebook.

There are plenty of desktop and notebook applications where the small size and low power consumption will come in handy. With Windows, from Win 98SE on the old Compaq Presario, Win XP Pro on the HP Omnibook and Windows 2000 Pro on the desktop, the installation and driver loading was a snap. We timed it and the full process to up and running, including setting up 128-bit WEP encryption, was only 6 minutes.

The driver disk installs two drivers and all you have to do is set up your network parameters in My Network Places as you would with any network adapter. The DWL-122 uses the highly accepted and recommended Intersil PRIZM chip-set.

Since the DWL-122 is not one of D-Links enhanced 802.11b AirPlus family members, we weren’t expecting the same kind of performance. Plugged into our HP Omnibook portable test bed and running our favorite free sniffer application Network Stumbler, we set out to field evaluate the tiny D-Link DWL-122. We were amazed at the performance we got connecting to our Tech Labs Apple Airport Base Station (802.11b Snow model).

5/5 bars
5 of 5
4 of 5
3 of 5
2 of 5
1 of 5

Dist. = measurement distance
5 of 5 bars = graphical signal strength
Mbps = Mega bits per second rate
SNR = signal to noise ratio
Signal = signal strength in DB

The signal lost connection at a distance of over 172 feet; that was through two commercial sheet-rock walls and one exterior lath and stucco wall. These are very impressive distance and strength results for any 802.11b adapter device.

We highly recommend this for any Windows PC application you might have.


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