Why is wireless router connectivity is different with Powerbook than iMac?

I had problems with my 10.2 on the G3 450 iMac (that caused me to go to 10.3 about 2 weeks ago), my trusty old Buffalo router fried its WAN port. I replaced it with a Netgear unit, then a Linksys unit, now I'm back to Buffalo. The ongoing problem is that the laptop has a heck of a time connecting to the internet - while the iMac (via ethernet) has no problems whatsoever. It doess/did this with every manufacturer of routers I tried (since first I thought it may be a Netgear incompatibility issue).
Strange part about the problems: Only initially does it spend 20+ seconds (close to Safari/Firefox timeout) "looking for" the host. Once it has found it, if you click on any links within the same host, it's lightning-fast. Just the initial callup seems to be inordinately difficult. I was hoping new firmware for the wireless modem, 10.4, the latest Airport update etc would alleviate the situation - no such luck. It USED to work fine on the old wireless router ... Also, it does this "looking for" business whether I have security enabled or not (I usually run 128bit encoding).
I don't really mind waiting for a few seconds for a site to load, but when you're talking about something like Yahoo or ESPN, all these independent advertising servers have to be contacted to load the page and - you guessed it - it's a 20+ second delay for each one...
I've rebooted the router and the laptop many times; I doubt it's the cable modem as the Ethernet on the iMac comes from the same router an doesn't have a problem at all. Any chance it's a setting of some sort in the preferneces panels?
The problem appeared initially with the Netgear router. The whole reason I went back to Buffalo is that I never had any issues in the 4 years I owned the previous one (until the WAN port went out). I also tried a Linksys router but admittedly didn't spend a lot of time with it as the delay problem appeared right from the start.
As far as 3rd party hardware is concerned, I wouldn't mind just getting an Apple Airport station at this time, but really don't want to spend the $ if it's an issue with either the laptop or its Airport card. I guess I could get one here at the local Apple store and bring it back if it doesn't work any differently (at least then I'd know it's either a laptop or a Comcast Cable-issue...).
System setup:
Desktop: G3 "Graphite" iMac / slot-loading / 400Mhz / 640MB RAM / 10.3.9
Laptop: 15" G4 Aluninium Powerbook / 1.25Ghz / 1GB RAM / 10.4.6
Wireless: Buffalo AirStation Turbo G WHR-HP-G54 (wireless to laptop / ethernet to iMac).
Powerbook 15/1.25GHz/1GBRAM   Mac OS X (10.4.6)  

It sounds as though you're having a problem with DNS lookups. Try this, type into Terminal (Applications > Utilities)…
sudo lookupd -flushcache
It will subsequently ask you for your administrator password. Type it in and then wait for the prompt to return. Do not do anything before then. Now, restart and see if things are any better.

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