Need help buying a NOTEBOOK + wireless networking

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 2, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I am looking to buy a new laptop computer.
    The last laptop I owned was a Dell Inspiron
    Pentium 200. It's at least 4 years old and
    it's just too slow and outdated.
    What I want to do is have a notebook I can
    take to a different area of my house using
    wireless cable broadband access.
    I have many questions. I am going to divide
    these questions in two parts as one deals
    with the LAPTOP itself and the other
    with WIRELESS NETWORKING.
    Buying a laptop
    This is basically what I want...
    * Pentium 4 1.2
    * 256-512 Ram
    * 32MB video memory
    * 20-40 gig hard drive
    * DVD drive (CDR-W optional)
    I am only going to use the laptop for internet
    access, and I know what I am probably putting
    together is overkill for that purpose. However,
    like anything else, you find yourself adding so
    much to your electronic toy that you wish you had
    gotten better. So, this is a laptop with promise.
    I want to spend $2,000 for the laptop and the
    wireless extras I will need to add. It's gonna
    be tough to meet this price, but I thought I'd
    seek your help.
    I looked at the Dell Inspiron 8100, and
    actually I could do it all for the price. But
    it will take weeks to have Dell ship this, and,
    Dell is just too much more expensive than what
    you can buy anywhere else.
    What is really gaining my interest is the
    Sony Vaio notebooks. The GRX550
    and GR390 are two options I am looking at.
    If anyone has experience with Sony Vaio
    notebooks, I'd like to hear about them.
    Wireless Notebook Networking
    Once I have the laptop, I need to get broadband
    cable to it.
    I currently have two desktop computers hooked
    up to a LINKSYS wired router that works great.
    What do I need to do to add a wireless router
    JUST for the notebook?
    * What kind of card do I need for the notebook?
    Can you select a good brand name and price?
    * What wireless router should I buy to
    transmit the broadband across the house so I can
    use the notebook anywhere?
    * Does this wireless router simply plug
    into one of the available ports in my WIRED LINKSYS
    ROUTER?
    * Will I get cable access that is AS FAST
    as that going to my desktop using the wireless card
    and router?
    Would appreciate your help. Thank You
     
  2. Darren Lewis

    Darren Lewis Supporting Actor

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    Hi Ron!
    I bought a Sony VAIO laptop (PCG-FX205K) about six months ago and I love it. They're not the cheapest laptops around, but they certainly feel (and look) superb. Their build-quality is first rate.
    Mine is a P3-850 with 15" screen, 20Gb drive and DVD drive. Only has 128Mb RAM, but can go up to 512Mb. It has LAN and Firewire ports built-in as well as the usual modem/USB/video etc.
    It came with Windows 2000 (but I think they're now coming with Win XP). Recovery CDs are also included. It comes with some software pre-installed (REAL and a few of Sony's video software).
    Not sure about the wireless networking. I was thining about this, but when I went into PC World, I was put off by the price of the cards. I think that you need a wireless PCMCIA card, and a receiver that plugs into your exisiting hub/PC.
    I'm not sure about this side as I didn't look into it in detail.
     
  3. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    For the laptop, I'd say go with whatever makes you happy, but I'd also reccomend going at least four steps down from what you've got; a P200 is more than adequate for internet surfing. And a P4 laptop will, shall we say, roast your marshmellows, should you actually try to use it on your lap top.

    I have a toshiba satellite laptop I use; P2 Celeron 500, 384 megs of ram, DVD-ROM, damn nice built in sound (Yamaha, actually) and a decent video card. Does more than what I need it to, and plays some of the older 3d games well, as well as current non-3d games. My 'travel kit' generally includes Dungeon Keeper 2, Final Fantasy 7 and 8, Civilization 3, and a whack of old DOS games that I love. The Yamaha does kick-ass SB16 emulation.

    As for the wireless, you should find that linksys also peddles a 'wireless access point' which has cute little bunny ear antennas. Just get one of those, plug it into your cable/dsl router's internal side, configure it, and you're golden. Then a wireless card on your laptop, and check every once in a while to make sure nobody's leeching off of you. Or you can dump your current router and get the linksys one that builds in a WAP.
     
  4. Kevin P

    Kevin P Screenwriter

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    If you already have a router, you can get the Linksys WAP11 wireless access point and plug it into your existing router.

    Otherwise you can replace your router with the Linksys one that has the WAP built in.

    Darren, you like the feel of the Vaios? I've played with them in the store and IMHO they felt flimsy to me. My Dell Inspiron 4100 feels much more solid. Maybe some Vaio models (more expensive ones) are more solid than others? Or maybe it's just the keyboard.

    Shayne, what's the best way to tell if someone's leeching off you? With a packet sniffer, or can you do it with the Linksys software? I have encryption and MAC address restrictions set up on my WAP11, so I'm probably ok.

    KJP
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Gentlemen,
    Thank You for your help.
    Bought a Sony Vaio GR390 this morning.
    * Pentium III 1.20
    * 512 Ram
    * 30 gig drive
    * 16mb video (only weak point)
    I also bought a Linksys WAP 11 wireless
    router and a Siemens Wireless LAN card.
    I am sitting in another room joyfully
    using my notebook with full wireless cable
    access.
    This notebook rocks! Nice build quality.
    QUESTION
    Would communication and performance of my
    wireless connection be any better if I had
    bought a LINKSYS wireless card to match the
    WAP-11 router?
    I find that signal gets rather weak a
    little too short of what I am supposed to get.
    Thanks
     
  6. Kevin P

    Kevin P Screenwriter

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  7. David_Stein

    David_Stein Second Unit

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    i would suggest the orinoko (formerly lucent) wireless cards. thats what we use at carnegie mellon university and they have good range. check the linksys card, its either going to be 5V or 3.3V, im pretty sure the 5V cards have better range (edit: so if it is 3.3, you probably want a different card). also some WAPs allow you to add an external attenae. i doubt the linksys does.
    www.practicallynetworked.com (i hope i have that right) has good information on all sorts of these things.
     
  8. Darren Lewis

    Darren Lewis Supporting Actor

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    Congratulations Ron. Just had a look at the GR390 on the Sony USA site - looks very nice. The spec for the video card will depend on what you want to use it for.

    KevinP - I guess it comes down to personal preferance. There are quite a lot of different models of VAIO notebook. Some of the series are not as nice as other series eg I don't like the SR series as much as the GR or FX series.
     
  9. Jim Badger

    Jim Badger Agent

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    I'm in the process of adding wireless to my network. I bought a Linksys WAP11 to start and I've been doing research on which wireless PC-Card to get for my laptop. I read the original Linksys WPC11's weren't great, but the new versions, v2.5 & v3.0, are much better than the original and comparable to the Orinoco's.
     

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