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Ask Max: Mac-compatible USB Wi-Fi Adapters

Asked on 06/21/2006:

I am currently looking at purchasing a MacBook Pro from PowerMax. I want to set up our old PowerBook G4 with Airport just for Internet use.

I need to get the old Airport card, yet I have seen the alternative adapter that uses USB. Will that work with the Airport Station?


Mac-compatible USB Wi-Fi adapters will work with Apple's Airport products. The only problem comes when you use WEP encryption on your network. Although Apple adhered to the 802.11b and 802.11g Wi-Fi standards, they implemented it using a slightly different method for encrypting the network. The Apple way was easier when using all Apple hardware, but it can become difficult when mixing hardware. It is only WEP that has a problem; WPA works the same on all hardware. Probably the biggest concern is that the USB options stick out of the computer and can snag on things. The Airport card is the cleanest solution, fitting completely inside the computer. You can still find original Airport cards used. Whichever way you go, just remember not to use WEP with the USB adapters.

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