I like these because they use a cable, so you can position them for best signal and they have a high gain anntanne so you get better signal. 2 things though, 1 you have to make sure you have USB 2.0, you can use them with 1.0 and 1.1 but I've found that they don't work anywhere near as well. If you don't have USB 2.0 I would suggest a PCI card. 2. These adapters draw power from the USB port, that shouldn't be an issue for desktops (it wasn't for me) but you might want to use a powered USB Hub, and I have found that laptops don't provide as much power through USB as Desktops, so if you use it on a laptop you might have issues.
All I can say in the end is that I have noticed a serious increase in speed and connection strength after switching from a PCI Card Wireless Adapter to a USB Adapter. But that is just my experience.
I would like to campaign for the other side, as I have had better luck with PCI cards. Between the two devices from my experience, I think the more important factor to consider is interference. This includes, but is not limited to, 2.4Ghz wireless phones, some microwaves, old insulation, cement, etc.
Yeah, I've only used usb adapters and pcmcia...The usb adapter I have in my room (Dell Truemobile 1180, uses a prism2 chipset) isn't that bad. I really like the fact that you can position it to your liking, but on the other hand, you can always switch the antenna on a PCI adapter for a full positionable one as well
I've played around with both and everybody who posted above is right. Even though they disagree...
Pros and Cons:
The PCI card is handicapped because the antenna sticks out the back which is usually shoved up against a wall blocking the wireless signal. The antenna swivel mount does allow orientation in different directions though which lets you position it for optimum signal reception. You have to dedicate a PCI slot for this one function which is a problem with slot limited microATX MBs. PCI cards readily support windsurfer antennas.
The USB dongle has a smaller antenna so it is handicapped on signal strength also. You can move the dongle hub cable around to getthe best reception but you are always horizontally polarized (no swivel bracket) so if you are going from the first floor to the second floor of a house you will loose signal strength. There may also be issues with the usable share of bandwidth on your USB ports compared with a dedicated PCI card. I have not tried a windsurfer on my Dlink dongle. The geometry is wrong and the antenna too short, so I haven't made the effort.
If you have a slot free use PCI card with an external gain boosting antenna. This configuration allows you to still add a windsurfer though the improvement may be marginal since the add on antenna is already directional to acheive the gain boost.
USB is definately not for networking, but it happens that windows XP has native support for firewire networking, now all we need are some wireless dongles for firewire and we would be set. I really want to see more firewire being used, I have all these ports on my computer for firewire, but everything from cameras to cell phones i have are USB.
I have always used a PCI card and had no problems with it until we put up a new wall in my house. The wiring must have bounced the signal or something, so I went out and bought a lynksys USB adapter. With a longer cable I was able to place the antenna where it would get a strong signal.