Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Download, print, surf the web and more—the digital world is better when you cut the cord
Bluetooth is a short-range, limited-bandwidth solution for transferring small amounts of data. I was able to happily cut several of the cords on my desk with a Bluetooth-enabled Wacom tablet, keyboard, mouse and mobile phone. Because Bluetooth can transfer data at a maximum of about 700 Kbits/sec. (that's kilobits, not megabits), however, it's not useful for moving large amounts of information, such as high-resolution image files.
WiFi, short for Wireless Fidelity, picks up where Bluetooth leaves off. WiFi networks can carry large quantities of data at very high speeds over distances of 100 feet or more, making this technology the standard for creating wireless networks at home and in public places. Most new laptops now include WiFi capability, which is also finding its way into peripherals like digital cameras.
Want To Cut Loose?
If you're ready to untangle your digital world with WiFi, you'll need two items to get started. First is the wireless router, or hub. This is the base station that hosts connections between WiFi devices.
Second, you'll need a wireless capability in each of the devices you want to connect. This is either built in or can be added with an aftermarket wireless card or other similar accessory.
When you're comparing WiFi equipment, you're going to encounter the IEEE 802.11 specification. Engineers are brilliant at what they do, but woefully lack the ability to communicate without using long strings of seemingly unintelligible numbers, letters and acronyms with unexpected punctuation. To further confound you, you'll be asked if you want 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g or 802.11b/g. Huh?
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