SMALL NETWORKS

Almost all small businesses and many homes have more than one computer now, and they usually want to link them together in some kind of network. In the Rangemax Wireless Router 854Told days, we used to transfer files between computers by copying them to a disk and then taking the disk over to the other computer. That was called a sneaker network. That was yesterday. Today we wirelessly stream video, music, games and Internet phone calls all over the house.

Most wireless routers don’t work well as the distance from the router approaches 100 feet. The range also depends on how many walls are between your computer and the router: more walls, less range. The rate of data transfer tends to degrade with data transfer as well.

Netgear’s new RangeMax Wireless Router WNR854T is the best so far at speed and distance. In tests, it performed well at distances of 130 to 150 feet between router and computer. The data transfer rate is a maximum 300 megabits per second if you’re close to the router, about half that at the edge of its range. Translated into plain English, that’s a stunning 7 million words a second.         

Amazon.com sells the router for about $145. You will also need a Netgear WN511T wireless notebook adapter, which sells for about $63. Note that any wireless router system will require you to have receivers for each computer in the network, so you can’t get away from this extra cost. You can, however, also connect most wireless routers, including this one, directly by regular Ethernet cable and skip the wireless receivers. There’s more info at www.netgear.com, and tech support is round the clock.

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