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Chapter 12. Buying a Wi-Fi Access Point ... > Choosing a Wi-Fi Access Point - Pg. 173

Buying a Wi-Fi Access Point or Router 173 There is one situation in which a wireless networking kit does make sense. Let's say you have an old laptop in the house in addition to the new Centrino-based computer you just purchased. You would like to give the older laptop to a spouse or your kids, and of course want it to be connected to the Internet by wireless. The bundle gives you the access point/router you need in any case, and the card for the old laptop. Choosing a Wi-Fi Access Point A good 802.11g Wi-Fi access point can be had for between $50 and $100. If you are willing to settle for 802.11b, you can get one for well under $50. By contrast, an elegant 802.11g unit, the Apple Extreme Base Station, costs about $250 ($200 if you take the model without the external antenna port). Although industrial-strength commercial units can cost a good bit more, the point is that these are not hugely expensive pieces of equipment. You'll pay more for 802.11g equipment than for 802.11b equipment because 802.11g is newer and faster. This is a choice with obvious trade-offs that you'll have to make, but at this point the balance has pretty much tilted toward 802.11g because the pricing has come down so much. Likewise, the Apple Extreme Base Station costs a little more than equipment manufactured by a vendor that is not Apple--but then again, it looks so cool. You'll have to decide how much the cool factor matters to you. Even if you buy your access point in the real world of bricks and mortar, it makes sense to at least comparison shop online. Note Be sure to buy the equipment you need. You can buy a wireless access point that also includes the functionality of a router (for example, the D-Link DI-624). Some wireless access points do not provide the router functionality, so if you already have a router you can buy one of the wireless access points that does not include a router (for example, the Linksys WAP 54G). I'm a firm believer in buying equipment from quality vendors that stand behind their products. Quality manufacturers of Wi-Fi access points include · · · · · · Apple Belkin D-Link Linksys (owned by Cisco) Netgear SMC Networks Specific Brands and Models I'd like to show you a little more about units from Linksys, Apple, and D-Link. In Chapter 13, "Setting Up Your Access Point," I'll show you how to configure these units in your network. Your laptop computer doesn't care whether the access point has an Apple nameplate. It will connect to the access point using Wi-Fi just as easily. In other words, Wi-Fi is operating system neutral. You can choose to run Windows XP, Linux, or Apple OS-X, and that is, as my Grandma used to say, "your nevermind." Note Most Linksys wireless broadband routers have been officially tested and verified for use with Intel Centrino mobile technology. The latest Linksys wireless routers support Intel Smart Wireless Solution technology, which simplifies setup and security.