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Wireless Notebooks


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It's not exactly breaking news that our world is becoming increasingly wireless. Many of our daily activities that once needed a wired connection can now be done wirelessly!

The cell phone craze was probably the first revolution that seemingly happened overnight. The convenience of being constantly connected or plugged in to the your business, friends, or family was an undeniable need that was quickly met. For many people it has become a necessary in their daily lives.

Wireless computers, notebooks or laptops may just be the second wave in our struggle to becoming a totally wireless world. The ability to be constantly connected to your business and/or loved ones is revolutionizing the way we use computers and the Internet.

The notebook will do for computers, what the cell phone did for the telephone industry -- make our computers wireless, portable and accessible anywhere. It will also do the same for the Internet. Being constantly connected to your friends, your business or your family does have a certain appeal that can't be denied. The notebook computer will give you this wireless connection.

The utraportable, versatile little notebook computer, will no doubt play a major leading role in our wireless struggle to be constantly connected. It's the 'portability' of the notebook or laptop computer that holds the most appeal and is its major selling point. And its popularity is growing.

It is estimated that over 42 million computer notebooks will be produced this year in 2005. The market for laptop and notebook computers is growing at a rate of 20% each year according to Taiwanese notebook makers. And they should know -- they make 70% of these notebooks or their components for such major players as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Gateway.

But it's the portability and wireless communication these devices offer that's increasing their popularity among most users.

Just how is this wireless communication accomplished by the notebook or laptop you ask?

Wireless notebooks uses three major wireless data standards in order to transfer data. The one that is probably most common is 802.11b, also called Wi-Fi which stands for Wireless Fidelity.

Wi-Fi or 802.11b transfers data wirelessly at a maximum rate of 11Mbps for up to 150 feet. It uses the 2.4GHz radio spectrum and although it says 11Mbps, you will probably only get around 4-6Mbps in actual use. But this is enough bandwidth for high speed Internet, gaming and most file transfers.

The 802.11a is another standard that uses the 5GHz radio spectrum, so it has 8 channels available instead of only 3 that's available with 802.11b. The 'a' version also permits a larger transfer, at a maximum of 54Mbps.

The other standard, 802.11g, is a hybrid of 'A' and 'B' - its also capable of 54Mbps but it uses the 2.4 GHz spectrum and is compatible with 802.11b devices. Some notebooks like the Fujitsu LifeBook N6010, have a tri-mode 802.11a/b/g wireless system that uses all three forms!

Of course, it should be kept in mind, that any group of computers can be made wireless by using a wireless router and a wireless network adaptor for each computer. Also, many notebooks and computers come with a Bluetooth module, which allows for wireless communication between any sort of electronic devices -- from cell phones to computer to stereos to headphones.

However, if you're setting up a wireless network or if you're using your wireless notebook or laptop at hotels and airports - security will be a concern. Anyone, within distance possessing the right equipment and a little ingenuity may get access to this wireless system. For major corporations or the lowly homeowner; safeguards need to be taken to prevent unwanted visitors from interrupting your peaceful wireless universe.

There are usually two basic methods of securing wireless networks, WEP and MAC address filtering. The MAC (Media Access Control) is the physical address or unique hardware identifier given to each device in the network. Then you manually enter a list of addresses that can use or access your wireless network.

The other filtering process is more secure, WEP or Wireless Encryption Protocol requires a shared key between the users and then using this key to encrypt and de-encrypt data that's transmitted between your network users.

Many major hotel chains and other businesses are now offering 'Wi-Fi' services as an added convenience to their patrons. These 'hot spots' are popping up everywhere, even at some gas stations. You may need to sign in or get a password or key to access these services.

But like your cell phone conversations, any radio transfer or transmission will not be as secure as a wired connection. Keep this in mind if privacy is a major concern for you. But don't let it stop you from enjoying the convenience, portability and practicality of your wireless notebook or laptop.

It's a wireless world after all.

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