computer networksComputer Networks may consider going wireless with no cables to run through the house, and the freedom to work outside with your laptop on the deck or by the pool. A wireless router ($80+) will serve as your central point. The best computer networks use a “combo” wireless and wired router, capable of serving all computers, whether wired or wireless. This allows the most flexibility.

You’ll be confronted with 3 wireless standards to choose from. The wireless cards in your computers must be compatible with the standard your router uses. Keep in mind that some wireless routers and cards are cross-compatible with multiple standards.

A single wireless router with any of the above standards should be able to cover the average home. Should you need to extend your range, a strategically placed Wireless Access Point (basically a signal booster) should do the trick.

You’ll need a network card in each computer. Also known as Ethernet adapters, they come in both wired and wireless flavors. A CAT5 Ethernet cable for each wired computer is needed to connect it to your router. Don’t bother with CAT5e or CAT6; these “premium” cables are of no use to a typical home network. Newer computers will have network cards built-in. You can check by looking at the back of your PC for an RJ-45 port, which looks like a phone jack, only slightly bigger.

Newer laptops may be equipped with wireless capability built-in, so make sure your router matches the standard of your laptop. You can buy computer networks cards for those computers that don’t have them already.

Back to the top of Computer Networks.