Wireless Adapter

What Does Wireless Adapter Mean?

A wireless adapter is a hardware device that is generally attached to a computer or other workstation device to allow it to connect to a wireless system. Before the advent of consumer devices with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, devices required the use of wireless adapters to connect to a network.

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Wireless adapters are also known as Wi-Fi adapters.

Techopedia Explains Wireless Adapter

Wireless adapters often come in USB stick form, which must be plugged into a USB port of a computer or device. USB has become a universal standard for all sorts of accessory devices that plug into a computer or workstation device. Wireless adapters may also come in the form of PCI network cards that plug into a PCI slot on the computer motherboard. They do not generally plug into the Ethernet port. Instead, an Ethernet cable can connect a computer directly to a WiFi router or other device.

New technology has made wireless adapters somewhat obsolete, as new generations of portable computers generally have built-in wireless connectivity that can be enabled or disabled as needed.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.