Set your notebook free
For a few years now, it's been easy to find Internet access from a public PC. Whether you're at the airport, a hotel, or your local coffee shop, the Web is usually just a couple clicks away. But now, with grassroots wireless hotspot networks popping up in most major metropolitan areas, you can check e-mail, sports scores, and the latest news headlines from just about anywhere on your own PC.
So what do you need to make your own laptop wireless-ready? If you already own a portable PC, all you need is a wireless network adapter, which fits into your computer's Type II slot. Some newer laptops even come with wireless-networking capabilities already built in. But with the recent explosion in home-networking products and standards, choosing the right adapter to meet your needs can be difficult; wireless adapters can vary in installation procedures, configuration software, security standards, and tech-support options. To help you choose the right card for your situation, we reviewed three very different models.
3Com 11 Mbps Wireless LAN PC Card
At a price of US$100, 3Com's wireless LAN PC card is slightly pricier than most, but it bundles a couple of security functions you won't find in lower-end cards. However, to use those functions, a 3Com 11Mbps Access Point 6000 is required. Otherwise, it's a decent card aimed at corporate users featuring an easy-to-use setup utility and respectable performance.
Nokia D211 GPRS/WLAN Modem Card
The S$588 Nokia D211 combines both wireless LAN and GPRS functions into one sleek device. Use it in a notebook as a standard 802.11b WLAN card while in the office, but once outdoors you can switch over to GPRS to carry out Internet transactions such as email and web browsing while on the move.
SMC Wireless CompactFlash SMC2645W
The SMC2645W is a typical CompactFlash (CF) type II accessory, but comes packaged with a PC card adapter for added flexibility. This device offers straightforward installation to get you online in no time and the inclusion of the PC Card adapter will be a nifty addition if you also use the SMC2645W with your notebook.
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