PROS / High speed, long range, secure wireless n connectivity. Flip up antenna.
CONS / Lacks 5GHz frequency band. Compatible only with Windows Vista, XP and Windows 2000.
VERDICT / Fine for most users but lacks a couple of features that some people find important.
There isn’t much that distinguishes one wireless n adapter from another, so any feature left off has the potential to damage a product’s rating. The Buffalo Technology Nfiniti WLI-UC-G300HP is a perfectly adequate adapter for most users but comes up short in a couple of areas that will matter to some. For other highly rated products in this category, see our wireless n adapter site.
Data Transfer Performance
The newest iteration of Wi-Fi wireless technology, the standard known as “wireless n”, makes several notable improvements to wireless networking for home and business users. The data transfer speed has been improved and the presence of dead spots, once a major shortfall, has been drastically reduced. This is in large measure due to the development of MIMO technology, a helpful acronym for Multiple-input/Multiple-output.
As wireless signals are transmitted through a house or office, they run into myriad obstacles such as walls and furniture. The signals bounce around and, with previous Wi-Fi products, confused the hardware creating dead spots and reducing effective range. MIMO allows the bouncing signals to return to the adapter and be redirected in a more efficient way, which practically eliminates the dead spots and increases range.
The Wi-Fi n standard also uses a functionality called Wi-Fi Multimedia, or WMM, which allows traffic on the network to be prioritized when the user is multitasking. In this way, data with the highest priority is not interrupted by lower priority traffic.
On the down side, the Buffalo Nfiniti is a single band router that operates in the 2.4GHz frequency range. Though Wi-Fi’s good neighbor functionality is good at rejecting interference, it still occurs in this band because so many other products use it. Competing devices include wireless electronics that use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, remote controlled toys and some household appliances. Dual band adapters can also operate in the 5GHz range, which has few competitors and very little possibility of interference. The higher frequency range is also better able to transmit high bandwidth data like streaming audio, video and voice applications.
Putting sensitive information on any network carries some risk. Fortunately, the Buffalo adapter incorporates sophisticated encryption standards that can prevent unauthorized access to critical data while keeping hackers from gaining access to the network. The first generation Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), which is susceptible to cracking, is supplemented by two levels of Wi-Fi Protected Access, WPA and WPA2. The latter, in particular, using Advanced Encryption Standard, gives a level of protection that both governments and corporate users find sufficient to protect their most important information.
Secure pairing of the device with a compatible wireless router can be achieved with the push of a couple of buttons using Wireless Protected Setup, or WPS, a feature which Buffalo rebrands as AirStation One-Touch Secure System.
Ease of Use
The Buffalo Nfiniti adapter works only with the 32-bit version of Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows 2000. This alone limits the number of users that can choose this product in that the newest Windows products and Mac OS X are not supported.
We liked the device’s flip up antenna, which can serve to increase range by avoiding some of the interference that can occur with USB adapters due to their proximity to the computer. The installation software and utilities, known as Client Manager 3, are easy to use and versatile. The device is covered by a 2-year warranty, which is generous for this type of device.
Help & Support
Technical support can be reached via a 24/7 toll-free phone line or by form driven email. Buffalo’s web site includes an extensive knowledge base and FAQ section as well as a user forum. Firmware and drivers can also be downloaded from the site as they become available.
The Buffalo Technology Nfiniti WLI-UC-G300HP wireless adapter is adequate for most users but the number of people who can use it is limited by the relatively few operating systems that are supported. Lacking the 5GHz frequency band is a shortfall that it shares with other single band adapters.