Plugged In: Work Without Wires
When last we left the wonderful world of wireless networking, back in 2002, in this column we wrote, "We were admittedly afraid to dip our toe into the wireless network water, only to discover that it’s never been easier to turn your office or home into a wireless wonder."

For those with high-speed Internet access, several companies have not only made it unbelievably painless for home/office networkers to wirelessly configure a small LAN (local area network), but they’ve dramatically increased the speed for such networks by using the new 802.11g standard, which has made download speeds almost five times faster. These days, this technology is the easiest wireless network to implement, and makes accessing files and networked peripherals, such as hard drives, printers, CD-ROMs and DVDs, easier than ever.

Nothing dramatic has changed on the hardware side. All you still need is an access point or cable/DSL router, a wireless notebook or PC network card, and a lick of common sense. Security concerns are minor, and the return, in terms of flexibility and not running miles of cable, is great.

We’ve now taken to having our laptop in the kitchen, with our morning cup of coffee and a little e-mail. Throw in a quick online read of The New York Times headlines, and we’re talking a great way to start your day.

The Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router provides key routing functionality, including the Wireless Access Point, which lets you easily connect Wireless-G or Wire-less-B devices to the net-work, and a built-in four-port, full-duplex 10/100 switch to connect your wired-Ethernet devices. Finally, it ties it all together so your whole network shares a high-speed cable or DSL Internet connection.

The setup and operation were flawless. A software wizard takes care of configuration, based on your Internet connection. We pounded this unit for several weeks and it worked like a champ. Without getting into computer-geek specifics, it provides you with the only wireless router you’ll need.; $99.99; WPC54G Wireless-G Note-book Adapter $79.99

The Belkin Wireless Cable/DSL Gateway Router setup is simple, and lets you share data and peripherals, as well as a single Internet account, among all your computers. Using multiple Belkin wireless notebook network cards within your home or office lets you increase your network’s coverage, offering expanded wireless roaming capabilities.

The Gateway Router also uses the wireless 54g 2.4GHz standard, affording you the widest working range—up to 1,800 feet—and is backward compatible in mixed networking environments, which means if you still have some old 802.11b wireless network cards in use, they’ll still work.; $112.99

Technophile Don Campbell lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest.
Photo by Renata Kosina