A device that adds wireless connectivity to a computer or PDA. It is attached via a USB port, PC Card, memory card or is plugged into the PCI bus inside the computer. There are three types of wireless adapters: Wi-Fi, cellular and Bluetooth.|
Wi-Fi adapters provide wireless connectivity to the local area network (LAN). Typically plugged into laptops, they can also be installed in desktop computers for wireless connectivity throughout a home or office. See network adapter, 802.11 and Wi-Fi.
Broadband Cellular Adapters
Cellular wireless adapters, also called "air cards," "broadband adapters" or "broadband cards," are used in laptops and provide the same wireless mobility as a cellphone. See wireless broadband and broadband card.
Bluetooth provides very short range wireless transmission, such as between a headset and cellphone or a mouse and computer. Bluetooth adapters for laptops and desktops typically plug into a USB port. See Bluetooth.
This wireless adapter on a PC Card added the higher speed of 802.11g Wi-Fi to a laptop that had only 802.11b built in. The protrusion is the antenna, which always remains outside of the PC Card slot.
This wireless adapter on a PC Card enables a laptop to transmit data over Verizon's EV-DO cellular network in major cities within the U.S. Like the Wi-Fi adapter in the illustration above, the antenna at the top of this card stays outside of the slot. (Image courtesy of Verizon Wireless.)