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.
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
- 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: