A universal serial bus (USB) router adapter is a device that allows a wireless router to work with a computer that does not have a wireless card. It is a fairly small device that can be connected to a USB port on the computer, and will effectively act as a wireless card for the computer or similar device. The use of a USB router adapter is common in older computers that do not have wireless connectivity or for a laptop that does not have a wireless card. A USB router adapter can also potentially be used with a device similar to a computer such as a game console, in order to allow wireless Internet connectivity.
Most modern computers have one or more USB ports that can be used with a USB router adapter. These ports allow a number of different devices, from printers and external hard drives to portable memory sticks and digital cameras, to be connected to the computer. Since USB ports are fairly industry standard, different manufacturers can create products that can effectively interface with most computers. Installing or connecting a wireless card for a computer, however, can be somewhat more complicated. Therefore many people use a USB router adapter rather than dealing with having to install hardware inside of the computer.
A USB router adapter can be sold with a wireless router, which can be helpful if someone already knows he or she will need such an adapter. They can also often be purchased separately from router manufacturers, and someone looking for an adapter should make sure he or she finds one that is compatible with the wireless router he or she already owns. The USB router adapter simply connects to the computer through a USB port, and then will find wireless networks in the area and allow the user to connect to one. If security protocols are used with a wireless network, then a password may be necessary to connect to the network.
Some modern game consoles are able to connect to the Internet to allow players to play together online or download new content for games. While these consoles can be built with wireless connectivity, they may instead require additional hardware such as a USB router adapter to connect to a wireless router. This type of adapter will usually be available from the game console manufacturer, and acts as a wireless card for the game console. Due to software configurations on most consoles, a USB router adapter made by another company may not work with the console.