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wireless adapterA device that adds wireless connectivity to a laptop or desktop computer. All of the adapters below are available as external USB modules as well as PCI or PCI Express (PCIe) cards that plug into an empty slot on the motherboard. See PCI and PCI Express.
Wi-Fi adapters provide connectivity to the local area network (LAN) in the home or office. Typically used to add Wi-Fi to desktop computers, they can also retrofit older laptops that never came with Wi-Fi. See Wi-Fi and Ethernet.
Cellular (3G, 4G)
Cellular wireless adapters, also called "cellular modems," "air cards," "broadband adapters" or "broadband cards," deliver the same 3G and 4G wireless service that smartphones use. See wireless broadband and cellular modem.
Bluetooth provides short range transmission between the computer and a mouse or keyboard. See Bluetooth.
|Adding "N" Wi-Fi|
|The USB adapter (top) adds 802.11n Wi-Fi to both laptop or desktop, while the card on the bottom plugs into a PCI slot on a desktop computer (see 802.11n). (Images courtesy of D-Link Corporation and TP-LINK Technologies Co., Ltd.)|
|Verizon Cellular Modem|
|This adapter plugged into a PC Card socket on older laptops to connect to the Verizon 3G network. Subsequent adapters for 3G and 4G plug into USB. See cellular modem and PC Card. (Image courtesy of Verizon Wireless.)|