So I need some PCMCIA wifi cards to put in the 6 off-lease Dell laptops I got a few weeks ago. I prefer it to be a/b/g vs. b/g compat and must be able to do WPA as we're moving away from WEP encryption. It also must be under $50 so I don't cry if they are lost or get broken :-)
Wifi Tom helped me do some research which ultimately lead us to the Hawking HWC54D Hi-Gain card which has gotten good reviews. This baby has a 6dBi high gain directional antenna guaranteeing you'll be able to pick up a wifi signal further than anyone else ... unless they too have this card. The antenna flips up and swivels so you can home in on the access point you desire. I was a little worried that this could be easily broken off or maybe wouldn't work well if a user didn't flip it up, but went ahead and took the plunge.
Using the usual tools such as pricegrabber we netted 10 of these bad boys for $42/ea.
Driver install is a snap and the GUI is very intuitive. Wow, even with the antenna not flipped up this card is stronger than my internal Dell 1450 card. With the antenna flipped up (see above image) the Hawking spanks any of the other cards we have around (by 6-8 dBm which is HUGE!) ... be it an internal Dell or Centrino, or an external D-Link or sweet Proxim. This truly could be the strongest wifi card on the market today.
We had 6 of these cards in our "internet cafe" laptops that were used very heavily during the recent Leadership Summit we hosted. I'm happy to report that no antennas received any damage :-)
I'm keeping one of these in my laptop bag for those times I need to really reach out and snag a signal.
Easy driver install
Easy to navigate GUI
GUI has lots of helpful stats on your link connection
Strongest card Ed or I have ever seen!
Very reasonable price ... especially when you consider the strength this card has
WPA and WPA2 compat
Kinda bid ... it's not much longer than a normal PCMCIA wifi card, but it is thicker
Wonder how much abuse the antenna can take when flipped up