Wi-Fi Adapters for the Office on 192.168.l.254 IP Address

When choosing an adapter, first think about where you will need to use it. Is it for your laptop or PDA that travels everywhere with you (even if just from the couch to the bed)? Or for a computer that will sit in one room at home? Or to connect your daughter's Xbox to the Web? Read on to find out which type of adapter is ideal for your situation.

Office desktops will likely have wired connections, or be under the control of your IT manager, so we won't cover those here. If you have a small office and no IT support, follow the advice given for home desktops, above.

For laptops, the same advice given for home applies, with a few added dimensions. First, your company may have an 802.11a network, requiring a multi-mode a/b or a/b/g card in order to travel between home and office networks.

Second, enterprise-class Wi-Fi networks usually have stepped-up security, such as RADIUS authentication and other measures. While Windows XP and Mac OS 10.3 (Panther) can handle enterprise security, not all Wi-Fi adapter drivers can. Third, the multiple access points found in a large building environment may involve special roaming support not available in all cards.

To make sure your card will work properly in your office Wi-Fi environment, consult your IT manager. He or she probably has a list of preferred cards, which will surely include at least one a/b or a/b/g option for compatibility with Wi-Fi hotspots on the road (and at home). Ask how to set things up so you don't need to redo all your preferences each time you move locations.