With multiple PCs in small office environments and even in many homes these days, itís not surprising that networking has become so popular. By networking multiple computers together, people can easily share files, have a file server so that important files reside in one place, as well as share a single printer and/or Internet connection. But setting up a network can be tedious, especially if you plan on using wiring and donít want start messing up the walls in your building. Thatís where wireless networking comes in and the Ultra Wireless Networking products from Adaptec is one of the solutions available.
With these products, you donít need to worry about wires in order to set up a computer network. You simply connect one of the appropriate adapters to your PC, run some setup software and youíre up and running. Youíll be able to share a high-speed cable/DSL Internet connection among multiple computers, swap files easily, and (if you are using a laptop) even roam around to multiple rooms in the building while keeping your networking connection intact. Isnít that something?
The Adaptec Ultra Wireless Networking product family consists of the following components: the Ultra Wireless Cable/DSL Router, the Ultra Wireless Access Point, the Ultra Wireless PC Card for Notebooks, the Ultra Wireless USB Adapter, and the Ultra Wireless PCI Card. Depending on the type of network you want to set up and the type of computers in your home or office, you may need some or all of these components and multiple numbers of them. For example, letís say you have a broadband Internet connection along with three desktop PCs and one laptop PC. Youíd like to network all the PCs together and have them all share the single broadband connection. Letís also say that you already have two of the PCs networked together with wired Ethernet connections. In order to set up a wireless network for this configuration, youíd need one Router, one PC card, and either one PCI card or a USB Adapter. The Router would be connected to the Internet and it would also act as a wireless access point. In addition it would be connected to the wired portion of your network. The PC card would give wireless access to the notebook PC and the PCI card or USB Adapter would give wireless access to the third desktop PC.
Setting up the tools is very simple because Adaptec includes a wizard-based configuration and management tool with their products. The tool walks you through all the steps need to set up each of the components in your network. Network connection and detection between components in automatic. Data is also protected with secure 64/128-bit WEP encryption, and you can have personalized user profiles for home, office, or other environments. Plus, if you already have other wireless networking products, the Adaptec products will work in conjunction with the other products as long as they support the 802.11b wireless networking standard.
Personally, I only got a chance to test the Ultra Wireless Access Point and Ultra Wireless USB Adapter from Adaptec. I used them both in home and small office environments and everything worked quite nicely. For the most part, the wireless signal was strong except for a few Ďweakí spots in the buildings that just put too many walls between the Access Point and myself. I never lost the wireless signal completely though. It would gracefully degrade to a slower speed when the signal strength was fading. Having one Access Point and one other wireless product is the most basic configuration you can have. I connected the Access Point to a desktop PC that already sported an Ethernet connection (most PCs ship with them nowadays) and connected the USB Adapter to my laptop so I could roam around and test the wireless signal. If I was going to purchase these products for permanent use, however, I would opt for a PC card for the laptop. The USB Adapter is very light and easily carried around, but it doesnít slip into a compartment without the need for a cable like the PC card.
Adaptec has a good line of products on their hands with the Ultra Wireless family. The products perform well, are easily configured, and can easily accommodate all of the networking environments in which you may be working. The only downside at this point in time is that there is another, faster wireless networking standard on the market now (802.11g) and you may want to wait and see if Adaptec comes out with a product line for this standard. Most home environments probably wonít need the extra speed, but work environments might.