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Archtek SmartLink DUK100 USB Ethernet Adapter

The Unit
  • 10/100 ethernet adapter
  • Plug and Play compatible
  • Draws its power from the interface lead
  • Windows 98, NT
  • LEDs: Power, Link, Rx, Tx


(+,-) $56USD

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Seems like USB networking components are really gaining in popularity. In the span of just a few weeks I've reviewed two units from Linksys, and today I have for you the Archtek SmartLink DUK100 USB ethernet adapter.

Let's clear up one misconception at the very beginning here. Although the DUK100 is rated as a 10/100 Mbps ethernet adapter in all reality any USB component is limited to 12 Mbps. That's the USB bandwidth limit. So, the hardware inside the unit is 10/100 capable but the bandwidth problem occurs at the USB port. Is this a crippling problem? No, not really. I think the vast majority of people who are looking at these USB ethernet adapters are planning to use them in a portable situation, or, are looking for an adapter that can be swapped between systems easily. Keep in mind that we are being promised much higher bandwidth with the upcoming USB2 standard (up to 480 Mbps). USB2 is not supposed to be able to run original USB components faster than the current 12 Mbps limit, but who knows, maybe there is some improvement on the horizon.

First Impressions

The unit is larger than the previous units I've tested from Linksys. The size is still very manageable, and I've included a small comparison shot with the Linksys 10/100 adapter and a mouse. Although larger, the DUK100 is still easily carried along with your laptop. The unit is constructed in such a way that the sides aren't parallel. That's nice for those of you who are concerned about the aesthetics of your components.

A nice feature that Archtek included was a power LED. The unit ships with a USB cable that is about two feet long. There is no RJ45 ethernet cable provided. This is common practice with networking components, and one, quite honestly, that I'd like to see change. I'm sure most of you will agree that any networking component should come with a length of ethernet cable. The manual included is a fold out type that covers the plug and play installation. There is an included floppy with the drivers, which by the way, worked well with Windows Millennium.

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