Wireless adapter

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WLAN adapter as a USB stick

A wireless adapter or radio adapter is computer hardware with which a computer can be expanded at a standard interface (e.g. PCI , USB , PCMCIA , PC card ) so that access to a radio network ( WLAN ) is possible.

Wireless adapters are used to connect a computer to a WLAN base station . It is also possible to connect several adapters without an explicit base station in so-called ad-hoc mode .

The adapters are possible in several variants:

  • internal adapter
    • Wireless network card : a PCI card or PCIe card, which is installed in PCs.
    • Wired adapter: a WLAN adapter that is connected directly to the mainboard in the computer via an internal cable without a network card . Often with built-in WLAN adapters in PCs, often in combination with Bluetooth .
    • miniPCI card or miniPCIe: WLAN adapter permanently integrated in the notebook.
  • internal adapter, accessible from the outside
    • PCMCIA card: suitable for notebooks, with internal antenna or socket for external antennas.
    • CF Type II: WLAN cards based on the CompactFlash standard, which are suitable for notebooks, but which are smaller than PCMCIA cards. With an adapter, these cards can also be used in a PCMCIA slot.
  • external adapter
    • USB adapters are usually available in two versions: on the one hand, as so-called sticks, which can be plugged directly into a USB slot on the computer. Some of these also have a docking station, whereby the stick in the station is connected to the computer with a USB cable. On the other hand, quite large devices are used that have more power and larger antennas. In appearance, these devices already resemble small wireless routers.
    • WLAN LAN adapter: These adapters can be used universally and are independent of the operating system used. They enable any device to be connected to a WLAN, provided that these devices are equipped with a network interface. The adapter is connected to the network interface of the computer, printer, LCD TV, Xbox, etc. via a network cable (RJ45). Power is supplied either via a power supply unit, via a USB connector or via the network cable ( Power over Ethernet ). WLAN LAN adapters can also be found at manufacturers under the following product names: