USB Wi-Fi Adapters/Dongles for Laptops

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USB Wi-Fi Adapters/Dongles for Laptops

Wi-Fi allows users to connect their laptops to each other and access the Internet without needing to plug in Ethernet cables. In order to access Wi-Fi, computers must be equipped with a Wi-Fi adapter that allows them to send and receive wireless signals. Most newer model laptops have built in Wi-Fi capabilities, allowing them to access the Internet from Wi-Fi hotspots, such as cafes, libraries, and airports. However, older laptops generally require users to have a USB Wi-Fi adapter or dongle to connect to wireless networks. These adapters connect to a laptop via a USB port.

Wi-Fi adapters or dongles are relatively small, allowing users to carry them easily when travelling. In addition to their ability to connect to wireless networks, users can also transfer data from the computer to the dongle and increase a system's security. When purchasing USB Wi-Fi adapters or dongles for laptops at retailers such as eBay, buyers should consider the various benefits they offer, familiarise themselves with the factors that help them to make a well formed purchasing decision, and understand how to store them.

Benefits of USB Wi-Fi Adapters or Dongles

There are many benefits of using USB Wi-Fi adapters or dongles. These benefits are some of the main reasons buyers choose to invest in these external devices rather than an internal device.

Absence of Cables

In the past, Internet users were required to connect their laptop to a router via an Ethernet cable, thereby, limiting their mobility to the length of the cable. The computer needed to be located in close proximity to an Internet source, such as a telephone line or cable outlet, in order to gain network access. Those with cable outlets in one room and a home office located in another were required to run an Ethernet cable throughout the home or install an additional phone or cable outlet in the room where the Internet was being accessed. When using multiple devices for Internet usage at the same time, wiring could add expense and time to the setting up process.

This problem is eliminated with use of a USB Wi-Fi adapter or dongle, which allows multiple devices to connect to the Internet via a wireless router. One of the main benefits is that it connects the user's laptop to a wireless network without the use of cables. This diminishes the possibility of tangled wires. Also, users do not need to carry an Ethernet cable with them on their travels in order to connect to a network.

Greater Mobility

The lack of hardwiring to the router also allows users greater mobility and the freedom to use their laptop in multiple locations as long as they are in range of a free Wi-Fi hotspot or an accessible wireless network. This is a great leap forward in technology that is being made available in a wider number of places, including London Underground.

No Computer Upgrade Needed

Using a USB Wi-Fi adapter or dongle is a cost effective alternative to purchasing a new laptop with Wi-Fi capabilities. Buying a new expensive laptop is often unnecessary, especially if the older model is still in good working condition. A USB Wi-Fi adapter or dongle is also an alternative for those whose internal wireless adapters need to be replaced because they are slow or broken, increasing the speed at which the Internet operates. Users must simply disable their internal card and use the USB Wi-Fi adapter or dongle for Internet access.

It is important to keep in mind that older styles of USB Wi-Fi adapters or dongles work at a slower rate than newer versions. For greater speed, buyers should choose a device that has an "n" after the number 802.11. These adapters are able to support a bandwidth double that of wireless adapters that have a "b" or "g" following the number.

Plug and Play Mechanism

Unlike internal wireless adapter cards that require extensive user installation of hardware, USB Wi-Fi adapters or dongles increase the ease of use significantly by eliminating the need for technical knowledge. Installing an internal adapter into an older model laptop is not always possible due to the laptop's compact configuration. Even if it is possible, the high cost of internal laptop adapter cards often deters buyers from making a purchase. Instead, users are simply required to plug the adapter or dongle into the laptop's USB port.

In addition to cost and compatibility, internal wireless cards often lose their effectiveness, making them unable to connect to Wi-Fi. Therefore, it is often a good idea to invest in a USB Wi-Fi adapter or dongle because it can be replaced easily in the event of failure.

Greater Versatility

USB Wi-Fi adapters and dongles are versatile, allowing buyers to use them on multiple devices for quick Internet access. The adapter can be plugged or unplugged easily when needed on any Mac or Windows based laptop that supports USB technology. It has a driver designed for both operating systems.

Factors to Consider When Buying USB Wi-Fi Adapters or Dongles

When purchasing USB Wi-Fi adapters or dongles for laptops, buyers should consider the compatibility and speed. It may be necessary to buy a USB extension cable depending on the location of the laptop's USB ports.

Driver Compatibility for USB Wi-Fi Adapters or Dongles

Buyers who use both Mac and PC computers should choose a USB Wi-Fi adapter or dongle that is able to support both operating systems. This diminishes the need to purchase a separate adapter or dongle for each device and can help to simplify the process of connecting to a network.

Speed for USB Wi-Fi Adapters or Dongles

Buyers should consider speed when purchasing USB Wi-Fi adapters or dongles for their laptop. The latest adapter models offer faster Internet speeds and greater reliability over their predecessors. However, earlier models can often be found for a more reasonable cost.

Extension Cables for USB Wi-Fi Adapters or Dongles

Buyers should consider purchasing a USB extension cable in addition to the Wi-Fi adapter or dongle, especially if their laptop's USB port is located at the back of the computer. This is because the antenna's ability to pick up the wireless signal is sometimes hindered. Some USB Wi-Fi adapters or dongles may include an extension cord with the purchase.

Storing USB Wi-Fi Adapters or Dongles

When not in use, buyers should store their USB Wi-Fi adapters or dongles in a safe place. It is best to avoid leaving the device plugged into the laptop's USB port as it could break off and damage the USB port or the laptop.

How to Buy USB Wi-Fi Adapters or Dongles for Laptops on eBay

eBay has a wide range of USB Wi-Fi adapters or dongles available for purchase. These devices can be purchased either new or used. Buyers can search from the eBay home page using keywords, such as, "NETGEAR USB Wi-Fi adapter". Once the results have been displayed, buyers can select categories to narrow down the listings or use the filters. These filters include the price range of the adapter or dongle, and whether the device is new or used. If buyers have a particular device in mind, they can use the advanced search feature to find it quickly.

Read the Item Description

When purchasing USB Wi-Fi adapters and dongles, buyers should read the item description carefully and look at the photo. The adapters should be compatible with both Mac and Windows-based operating systems for greater versatility. If the USB Wi-Fi adapter or dongle is secondhand, buyers should ensure that the speed is fast enough to suit their Internet browsing needs. If buyers have any questions regarding the specification of the device, they can contact the seller directly to ask for further details using the "Ask a question" link.

Read the Seller Feedback

Feedback allows the buyer to see what previous customers have thought about the seller and the service they have offered. Positive feedback means that the seller has offered great products and customer service, and the seller is recommended to other potential buyers. Feedback can be left for the seller once the transaction has been completed.


USB Wi-Fi adapters and dongles provide wireless Internet connectivity to laptops that do not have internal Wi-Fi cards. These devices come in a wide array of models, designed to fit the needs of every laptop user. Wireless adapters and dongles are small, making them highly portable. They plug into the laptop's USB port directly and can work for both Mac and Windows operating systems.

When searching for USB Wi-Fi adapters and dongles, buyers should consider the desired Internet speed. Older adapters generally operate at slower speeds than newer models. Buyers should also consider the benefits of the device. In addition to their absence of cables, the adapters can be transferred to multiple devices easily provided compatibility does not pose a problem. With so many USB Wi-Fi adapters and dongles available on the eBay marketplace, buyers should be able to find a device with the right features and compatibility for their laptop.

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