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Wi-Fi Requirements for Laptop Computers

These days Wi-Fi is no longer a novelty for the few but an essential for almost everybody. What do you need for Wi-Fi? First, your laptop needs wireless capability. If its not part of your basic hardware package, you'll need to purchase an add-on PC card to plug into a PC-card slot. Should you get 802.11b, g, or n? Your best bet is probably 802.11g because it is the most popularly supported version due to its moderate price and the improved speed and range over "b.” You say you have no PC card slot? No problem. USB-based networking adaptors plug into the USB port.

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Wi-Fi Software

Either your laptop, your PC card or your USB Wi-Fi adaptor should come with a configuration utility to set up and operate the wireless device and connect to wireless networks.

Broadband Wireless Security

Generally, most public wireless access points provide either WEP or WPA as a security option to protect information that’s sent from your computer to the access point. However, you also need to be concerned with the security of your own computer.  Minimally, turn off Windows’s file sharing and enable Windows’s elementary firewall or install one from a third party.

In addition, follow a routine set of Wi-Fi hotspot precautions.

Two more useful resources are Wi-Fi signal detectors or finders that let you track down a wireless signal before booting up your notebook and wasting power and online Hotspot Directories that list local, national and international hot spots.

If you’re setting up your own broadband Wi-Fi network, you’ll need a wirelessbroadband router. Routers are physical devices that join multiple wired or wireless networks together. A wired or wireless router is a gateway between two or more separate networks. The local network connects to the Internet for broadband access.

Broadband routers combine the functions of a router with those of a network switch and a firewall in a single unit, combining the functions of a DSL or cable modem, a hub or switch, and a firewall. Broadband routers attempt to combine all of the essential features of home networking in one integrated, easy-to-use package.

Routers are the best way to share a single broadband connection with multiple users. Key features you should consider before buying your wireless router:

  • Is your router supported by your broadband provider?
  • Internet and wireless security.
  • Performance.

Now you’re ready to go wireless.