Wireless laptop advice sought...

  Simsy 12:08 11 Aug 2006


I'm currently helping a pal choose a PC. It will be his first, a laptop. It's just for use at home, but wants a laptop for size raesons

He will also be looking for wireless internet connection.

A model being considered has the following in it's description;

Wireless LAN - 802.11b /g (with Built in antenna)

I don't have a clue about wireless stuff, and I'm not clear what this means, or what implications this has for using BBand at home, via adsl... Obviously he'd need an ADSL "modem" with wireless txr, but I don't understand how we ensure that the things will talk to each other at the correct frequency.

To make it really simple, can someone suggest suitable kit. (I have a wired Netgear router,so I'm familiar with that, and its setup). Is there something suitable at the £50 sort of mark... or cheaper?

Thanks in anticipation,



  Batch 12:17 11 Aug 2006

See here for explanation of standards: click here

Basically 802.11b has a max speed of 11 megabits per sec (mbps), 802.11g has a max speed of 54 mbps. The frequency is an integral part of the standard.

For most peoples' broadband purposes either is adequate. But, depending on the signal strength (due to intervening walls / distance) you may not get full strength at any given time.

I'd recommend getting an ADSL modem / router that supports 802.11b and g (most do - just check the specs).

  FelixTCat 12:28 11 Aug 2006


It sounds as though you are looking for a tutorial on wireless broadband!

Many laptops these days have wireless network adapters built in - ALL badged Centrino do. There are a number of different types of wireless system, all in the 802.11 range.

b/g are interoperable and only differ in speed, g being newer and faster than b

a works on a completely different frequency band and can't work with b/g

n is an unratified standard, but products may work much faster together in due course

b/g means that it is compatible with 802.11g wireless systems and will also work with the older 802.11b systems, but at slower speed.

In general, all makes of g devices will work together and if the laptop already has an adapter you can work it to any g wireless router. If you buy a laptop without an integral adapter, you would be a little better off to get a router and adapter of the same make - they are often sold as bundles - and some use speed-enhancement processes which MIGHT give you a slightly higher transfer speed at short range (but often slower at longer range).

I hope that this helps a little.



  Simsy 12:39 11 Aug 2006

I wasn't really after a tutuorial, though that may be what I need!!

What I'm unclear about is the frequency situation... Obviously the connection needs to be 2-way. If a neighbour also has a wireless connection what is the method that stops the neighbours laptop/modem signal getting confused with my mates laptop/modem connection. Do they not have to be on discrete frequencies? I assume they do and don't see how to dictate what frequency the laptop tx's at, as presumeable it's preset at manufacture.

Or have I got the wrong end of the stick and the do all work at the same frequency and isolation between then is maintained by some other means?

Thanks in anticipation.



  FelixTCat 12:57 11 Aug 2006


It isn't really a problem. The frequency band used is divided into channels and you can set your devices to use any of these channels (all YOURS have to use the same channel).

The channels are grouped, so if you find a neighbour using a particular channel it is best to set yours 5 channels away, e.g. if he is using channel 6, you should use 1 or 11.

It is also recommended that you set up some security on the wireless connection so that nobody else can intercept your wireless traffic (passwords, etc). The instructions for all this come with the router, usually, so don't worry about it yet.



  Simsy 13:41 11 Aug 2006

That's abig help!



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