Whether you use a desktop PC or a notebook, there are advantages to having a wireless network connection. For a start, you can be mobile, without worrying about network cables or configurations. Second, you save money on cables, and you can relocate a wireless Lan more quickly than a so-called wired network.
Here we take a look at two products from Elsa's range: an access point and a PCcard wireless network adapter. First, the Airlancer MC-2 is a 2Mbps network adapter and complies with the IEEE 802.11 standard. Of course, 2Mbps is not as fast as a 10Mbps or even 10/100Mbps office network, but the network's performance depends on how many people are using the bandwidth and the applications you are using the connection for.
When purely Airlancers are used to form a network, without any access points, it is known as an ad-hoc or spontaneous network. This simplest case is better known as peer-to-peer networking.
With an access point such as the Lancom Wireless L-2 you can connect a wireless Lan (WLan) to a conventional Lan. This gives any Airlancer-equipped laptop a radio link to the main wired Lan whenever they are in range of the access point. The coverage of the L-2 is the same as the Airlancer at about 30 metres indoors, or 300 metres outdoors.
One of the best features of this system is that you don't have to be a network expert to set up and use a WLan as all the Lancom Wireless products are plug and play. We thought we would put this claim to the test by hooking up the L-2 to our office network and installing an Airlancer into a spare laptop.
Amazingly, once someone with a bit of network knowledge told us which port to plug the access point into, we just had to plug in its power supply and the LED lit up to tell us we had a connection to the office Lan.
Installing the Airlancer was even simpler. Slotting the PC card into a free Type II bay and it was immediately recognised. However, the most impressive part is that all the required drivers (from the CD) and network settings were automatically set up, and we had a wireless connection ready to use.
At one point an advanced settings dialogue appeared, which could confuse a novice. However, a network administrator can alter these if any changes are needed. In our case, we didn't have to change anything, so it only took a couple of minutes to set the whole system up.
The Lancom Wireless L-2 is available at £525 and the Airlancer MC-2 costs £190.