Don’t cheap out on the Wi-Fi

I recently installed an Orinoco Silver PCMCIA wireless card in my Powerbook 1400 (it’d work in a PC laptop, too, but I’d only recommend it if your slot wasn’t Cardbus-compatible, otherwise you can get cheaper, better 802.11g cards — this one is strictly 802.11b).

In side-by-side comparisons to This Old PC’s Wi-Fi, using the AirLink 101 internal card from Fry’s, the Mac and the Orinoco connected much more easily — and stayed connected longer — to far-away routers. I can’t help but thinking that a name-brand Wi-Fi card and software (Netgear, Linksys, D-Link) would do a better job for This Old PC. If you’ll recall — and as this blog began — I had to upgrade from Windows 98 to 2000 just to get the thing to work. I’m glad I did the upgrade, because the whole box works a lot better (although the password situation annoys me — it keeps asking me to change passwords, and I’d rather it stopped). And if the router was in the same room, the Fry’s card (cost me about $10) would be fine, but I’d feel a whole lot better with improved hardware and software.

Anyhow, this is just my from-experience suggestion that you avoid off-brand routers and Wi-Fi cards. I’m pretty happy with my free Netgear router — I wish I had a newer one, but this piece of equipment is pretty rock-solid.