reaches critical mass, offers cool devices
by ALAN ZISMAN (c) 2001
First published in Business
Currentz section, Issue #622 September 25-October 1, 2001: GearGuide
Even in the
current cool market for computer upgrades, wireless is hot. And while
proposals for wireless connectivity seem not quite ready to be hatched,
so-called IEEE 802.11b networking has reached critical mass. The
lets notebooks and other computers connect to a business network or the
Internet without needing to run cables. Now prices have dropped and a
range of computers and PDAs can be hooked in. 802.11b networks (also
as WiFi) can be set up in businesses or at home, and wireless networks
are starting to show up in hotels, airports, universities and other
spaces, allowing users to connect to the Internet without having to
is one of several companies with a complete range of WiFi products,
at home offices and small businesses. Typically, WiFi networks are
around one or more base stations that are connected into an existing
network, or a cable or DSL modem. Linksys offers two models. The
Wireless 4 Port Switch ($450) combines a WiFi base station with a fast,
four-port Ethernet switch, making it a good way to link both wireless
wired systems to the Internet or to an Ethernet network.
If you don't
have any systems to connect using traditional cables, its Wireless
Access Point Hub is about $70 cheaper. Yet another base station
wireless access, wired access and a print server. Both can be managed
any computer with a Web browser and offer optional encryption for added
than ever to mix and match, so Apple
Airport-connected Macs can connect to these base stations along with
equipped with WiFi wireless network adapters from different
Linksys sells a range of adapters for notebooks and desktops, including
PC Card models for notebooks and a USB model that can be plugged into
convenient external plug on both notebooks and desktops, both about
They also offer an internal PCI adapter ($79) for desktop computers,
users plug a notebook PC Card wireless adapter into these models.
I can't imagine who would want one of these!)
in the Palm of your hand
an Intel company, is making it possible to connect Handspring
Visor and Palm M500/505 PDAs
WiFi wireless networks, giving users the same network and Internet
on their handheld computers.
The Visor model,
like other devices using that PDA's Springboard ports, plugs in and
installs its drivers along with a Web browser.
The Palm M500
and 505 are the first expandable models from that company and Xircom,
July, released its Wireless LAN Module for that standard as well. The
also promising a model for Compaq's Ipaq series of Pocket Windows PDAs.
All models include optional encryption and cost about $450.
Want a phone
Not a WiFi networking
device, but another way to connect without wires is local company Arkon
Technologies' Parafone (www.myparafone.com). Another
module, it offers easy plug and play to turn a Visor PDA into a 900-MHz
cordless telephone ($179).
By adding a
telephone to its PDA, Visor owners are able to make use of the
address book, highlighting an entry and tapping the dial button added
won a Best of Show award at the 2001 Consumer Electronics Show,
and includes a base station/charger. It uses the Visor's screen for
display on call waiting and includes 50-entry speed dialing, calling
support, a 1,000-entry call history and hands-free headset support.