How to Buy Wireless Devices to Create a Network

by Bert Markgraf

A wireless network allows you to avoid running cables and lets you use mobile computers like laptops anywhere in the house or office. To take advantage of these benefits, you have to set up a wireless network using radio waves to send and receive signals to and from each piece of equipment. Some mobile devices will already be capable of working wirelessly. Most modern computers come with wireless adapters included, as well.

Router

The key device for building a wireless network is the wireless router that sends and receives signals from the Internet and the network. D-Link, Netgear and Belkin offer wireless routers and other equipment for a basic network. Prices start at around $50 for routers that handle the wireless "n" network suitable for the home or small business. Get a router that includes some Ethernet ports in case you want to use some equipment with a wired connection.

Wireless Adapter

To work with the wireless router, the other components on your network need an adapter. Adapters can be built onto a computers motherboard, or cards that you install inside a computer or plug into a USB port. The companies that make routers and a large number of other suppliers offer these adapters for prices ranging from $10 to $70. The higher-priced units are more powerful or have dual-band capabilities that extend their range and speed. To match your router, the adapter has to support the "n" protocol. An adapter in the midrange of prices gives adequate performance for a home or small business network.

Range Expander

Sometimes local conditions such as concrete walls limit the distance over which your wireless network operates. In such cases, a range extender retransmits the signal to areas outside the original network. Range extenders are available from many suppliers for prices ranging from $50 to $100. You will need a unit that supports the "n" protocol.

Network-Attached Storage

If you need a lot of disk-storage capacity or have lots of data to back up, you can use network-attached storage to link a large hard drive to your network. The NAS units usually hold at least one terabyte and are accessible from any of the computers on your network. In addition to backup, NAS is useful for sharing large files. Units range from $150 to $500, mainly depending on the capacity. The NAS remains in place with your data, even when you get a new computer.

Wireless Keyboards and Mice

While you are replacing cables with a wireless network, you can eliminate a few more wires by getting a wireless mouse and keyboard. You plug a transceiver into a USB port and the wireless keyboard or mouse can communicate with your hardware. Keyboard-and-mouse combos that talk to a single transceiver are also available. Prices range from $30 to $100, with the higher-priced models offering specially shaped keyboards and mouse bodies. Wireless keyboards and mice are not part of your Wi-Fi wireless network. Devices that use Bluetooth tend to cost more than RF devices.

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