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Figure 11-12: Typical compact ash adapter
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USB adapters: Use this type if you have an available USB port and want to avoid the hassles of opening up your desktop computer and inserting a card. Antenna: In most cases you can use the antenna that came with your wireless card. However, if the antenna is removable, you can purchase a replacement that is more powerful.
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Determine the Number of Cards You Need
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Here are some things to consider when deciding how many wireless cards you should purchase:
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Buy one wireless card for each computer you want to connect to the network.
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You can save money by using an inexpensive Ethernet cable to connect your desktop or laptop computer to the traditional wired ports on the back of the wireless router.
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To boost the performance of your wireless network, there are a few enhancements you can use, as described in the following sections.
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MIMO
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MIMO (which stands for multiple input, multiple output) is a feature appearing in new routers that enables you to improve the performance of your wireless signal by using smart antennas. Here are some things to consider about MIMO:
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Standards: Currently there are no of cial standards for MIMO. It is being incorporated into a new wireless standard called 802.11n, but the approval process has been slow. As a result, the standard may not become available until 2007. Some manufacturers have already produced MIMO-based wireless routers, but these are unof cial. Do you need MIMO The answer is probably no, especially if your home or of ce can get by with a single router without MIMO. Routers with MIMO cost more, so if you don t need it, don t buy it.
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SpeedBooster
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Some wireless hardware has an enhancement known as SpeedBooster that doubles its speed. For example, it can increase the data rate of an 802.11g router from 54 Mbps to 108 Mbps. If you purchase a wireless product with this feature, consider the following tips:
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Use the same brand of equipment: Because SpeedBooster is not an of cial Wi-Fi standard, you have to use wireless cards and routers from the same manufacturer. Enable it on all equipment: If you want to take advantage of SpeedBooster, you must turn on this feature in the wireless router and in each wireless card.
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11: Planning a Wireless Network Installation
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Upgrade the Antenna
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In most cases, you can use the antenna that came with your wireless router. However, if the antenna is removable, you can replace it with one that is stronger and has a better range. Here are some general guidelines:
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Visit the manufacturer s website: By researching the styles of antennas offered by the manufacturer of your wireless router, you will be able to buy one that properly ts your router. Don t forget: you can t replace an antenna that isn t removable. Purchase from a third party: You can purchase a variety of antennas for Wi-Fi devices from third party vendors. Check for compatibility: When you order antennas, be sure they are designed to work with your brand of wireless equipment. Different manufacturers use different types of antenna connectors, so it is important to get this right. Otherwise, you won t be able to attach the new antenna to your device.
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Note
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Some replacement antennas come with several different connectors, so be sure to read the instructions to know which connector to use with your particular wireless card or router.
Hardware and Software Requirements
Wireless cards are designed to work with a variety of operating systems, such as Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. The memory and processor speeds are minimal, so it is unlikely you will encounter any issues with compatibility. Here are some tips to consider:
Use Windows XP: The most recent version of Windows, known as Windows XP, makes it easy to set up and use wireless networks. If you don t have XP, you can buy a copy and perform a manual upgrade or you can have an onsite service technician come to your home or of ce to do the upgrade. Have a CD drive available: Make sure your computer has a CD-ROM drive, because you probably need to install software for your wireless router or card that comes on a CD-ROM.