Technology

WiFi Networks

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So why bother with a home WiFi network? Check out our FAQ to find out. For those who have or want a home network, this site has everything you need to build, expand, maintain and crank up a network on your home PCs. As far as we know, it is the only comprehensive site devoted to home WiFi networks.

Most importantly, we need your input in the Forums or via e-mail so we can get bigger and better every day. Thanks.

In Hardware-General…We have completed a review of the Belkin WiFi USB Direct Connect kit (F5U004). Overall we found this kit far from the promised “simplicity” of plug-and-play. However, if you have two machines with USB ports, Windows 98 installed and can make do without screaming network speed, this kit might be the right choice. Just don’t expect the installation and set up to be a snap. Then again, what do you want for the $50 street price (we got a great tip that www.buysoftware.com has it for that price). Check out the review here or go directly to www.belkin.com to get the manufacturers’ information.

Coming Soon..FINALLY…we have in a phone wire kit and a wireless kit, both from Diamond. Their HomeFree kits come in both technologies and we are really looking forward to getting these up and running on our test machines. Interestingly, Diamond clearly states that the phone wire kit is based on Tut Systems “HomeRun” technology. We went directly to Tut to see if they would ship us a system for review and we’re still waiting. Stay tuned or go directly to the Diamond site.

In Hardware-Ethernet…We have completed a review of the Kingston Fast EtherRx 3-User 100Base-TX Ethernet Bundle (KNB4100EU). This Wifi network kit is the only one we’ve tested that comes ready to network three computers. It installs flawlessly, comes with a great hub and nearly beats the fastest kit we’ve tested in performance rankings. It just missed our Editor’s Choice award because we couldn’t completely justify its price ($244 + shipping street price) versus some of the killer competitive prices from D-Link, Linksys and others. Still, if you want three network connections out of the box and can justify a few extra dollars, this is a great kit. Click here to find out why and read more about it.

In How to…FAQs…We have added some more information to our basic WiFi networks troubleshooting FAQ. This is far from a comprehensive troubleshooting guide, but it’s a good place to start. Check it out here.

In the News…Well, actually, homePCnetwork.com is in the news. We were chosen today’s Andover.Net Tech Sighting! Editor Robin Miller said, “…if you’re a Windows or Mac user building a home network for the first time, this site is an tsaward.gif (2917 bytes)excellent starting place. It’s not a cat’s paw for anyone selling networking hardware or software, just information (and plenty of it) about home networking, presented neatly and professionally.” We are a bit humbled with words like that, but it’s great to see that some people recognize exactly what we are trying to provide. Read all about it here or go their home page at www.techsightings.com. And, if you would like, you can go to the TechSightings web page and leave your own comment about home PCnetwork.com.

In How to… We have completed Part II of a two-part series on how to network PCs and Macs at home. In Part II, we cover installation and setup of software on the Mac to allow it to network with your PCs. For this we used Dave from Thursby Systems. We found this to be another great WiFi networking product. Set up went as described in the manual and Dave delivered on all of the features it promises. Of course, we also have Part I of this how-to in which we discuss using software on your PC to allow it to network with a Mac using Mac networking protocols and techniques. To do that, we used the PC MACLAN software package from Miramar Systems. We found it to be a great product as well. The two software packages are not direct competitors since one is used on a PC and one is on the Mac. You can read more about the comparison in the how to. If you want to read the complete feature, a great place to start is the Overview page. Click here.

An update on our PC and Mac networking piece…it has been pointed out to us that there is at least one other product, COPSTalk, that will allow you to add Mac networking features to your PC. We plan to download an evaluation version and set it up on our test network. For now, you can check out COPSTalk at www.copstalk.com.

In Hardware-Ethernet…If you are looking for a great bargain on a WiFi networks interface card and can make do with a “bare bones” package (without a written manual, etc), check out our review of the Accton Cheetah PCI 10/100Mbps Fast Ethernet Adapter. This card looks well built, installed with ease and performed extremely well. You won’t get anything besides the card and a driver diskette in the package, but what do you expect with an incredible price like this? It’s on special over at Lan Market for $18. (pick up a handful!). Click here to read the full review.

In Hardware-Ethernet…We have written a quick piece we call “Does Hub Matter?” We ran a quick test to see just how big a difference hubs can make in the speed of your home ethernet network. And the quick answer is: NOT MUCH. You’ll probably be better off buying a hub based on price and features unless, of course, you buy it as part of a kit. Click here for more.

In the Comments from Others page…we have an update on one person’s experience with the Intelogis Passport AC-wireless network system. It appears that for him it was a simple matter of getting new plug-in units to fix all of his problems. For those of you wondering where are long-awaited review is, we have decided to expand our testing capability for AC-wire, wireless and phone-wire kits with some test laptops. Once we have those in place, we’ll be back in touch with Intelogis, perhaps to switch out our units, and give you the full lowdown. Thanks for thecollage4.GIF (17611 bytes) patience. Click here to read more or go directly to www.intelogis.com for more info.

In Hardware-Ethernet…We have completed our review of the 3Com OfficeConnect Fast Ethernet Wifi Network Card (3CSOHO100-TX), the new card from 3Com targeted specifically at the small office/home office (and we suppose home PC) market. As you would expect from 3Com, this is a solid card in a solid package (installation guides and information CD), with smooth installation and great performance. The only question is whether it’s worth the $70 price tage, nearly three times some of its competitors. Check it out here.

On our Free Games page…we have added links to several new, free, multiplayer-capable demos including Redline from Accolade and Settlers III from Blue Byte software. Check them out here.

In Hardware-Ethernet…Check out reviews on the Linksys EtherFast 10/100 LAN card, the Linksys FENSK04 Fast Ethernet Network Starter Kit, the D-Link DFE-905 Network Kit for Small Workgroups (our Editor’s Choice), and much more.

Big News!!! We have a whole new format and functionality for our discussion forums. Please visit the Forum – Hardware, Forum – Software or Forum – General/Site Feedback. If you’re not sure which forum to use, check the short explanation on the Forums page. Please leave us a comment in Forum – General/Site Feedback if you like the new format.

In How to… we have summaries of several ways to get started with a network for home. Check out the step-by-step instructions for a $15 network and a simple Ethernet wifi network. This is beginner stuff, so advanced users should go straight to Hardware, Software or Discussion Forums.

In Software…Check out a review of WinProxy. This a great tool to let several computers share access to the internet AT the same time. And the price is right.