Product Review: Orinoco's 802.11b Wireless LAN PC Card

good range, performance boost high review score

By Allen Fear

Orinoco's 802.11b Wireless LAN PC Card is both highly functional and solidly built. The card fits into a Type II slot in your notebook and communicates wirelessly with other Wi-Fi-compliant access points and devices. The card also comes with a three-year warranty and high-end security features that put it a step ahead of the competition. Click here to get the latest prices.

Figure A
Orinoco 802.11b PC Card network adapter

Silver and Gold
Orinoco PC Cards come in two flavors: Silver and Gold. The Silver Cards come equipped with wired equivalent privacy (WEP), a technique that uses a 64-bit key to protect data transmissions. The Gold Cards provide even better security, using a 128-bit key and virtually uncrackable RC4-encryption. Both provide high-speed wireless access of up to 11 mbps over the 2.4-GHz band and can be used with any of Orinoco's networking solutions.

Orinoco PC Cards are Wi-Fi compliant and compatible with existing 802.11b-based systems from other vendors, including 3Com's AirConnect. They also are compatible with a whole slew of operating systems, including Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, XP, and CE; Mac OS 7.5.2 and higher; Novell Client 3.x and 4.x; and Linux (kernel versions 2.0.x and above) for Intel processors.

The Orinoco cards can be configured to work in a peer-to-peer group or with an access point. In peer-to-peer mode, the PC cards talk directly to each other and bypass the access point, letting you create a small, ad hoc wireless network for sharing files and printers. Add an access point and you can connect to all the resources on a corporate LAN, including Internet access.

Great feedback
On CNET.com, 93 percent of the users that have rated the Orinoco card have given it the thumbs up as a product they would recommend. Click here to read all of the opinions. Here are some of the highlights:
  • "Excellent card, awesome range, XP drivers work, great utility package"
  • "I use this pc card to hook up with my university's LAN. The school's system administrator did all the configuration with a 3Com AirConnect access point and the pc card worked immediately."
  • "I have a Linksys Wireless Access point (BEFWS) and used the Linksys card that came with it. From the start I was greatly disappointed with the lack of reach from the Linksys. Then one day it stopped working altogether after I docked my notebook PC. A friend gave me the Orinoco silver card and now I know what wireless LAN means! It works throughout my 2 story apartment and even on the terrace upstairs!"
  • "I've been using this card for about 8 to 9 months now and I never had any problems whatsoever. Great quality, easy to set up and use with almost any OS. So far I have used it on WinME, Win2000, and WinXP."
  • "Awesome card, really easy to set up. The encryption was a little tricky to set up, but not too bad. I like this card because of the fact that you can buy an external antenna for it to increase the range."

Final word
Naturally, you'll have to buy a PC Card for each notebook you want to add to your wireless network. However, if you need to add desktop PCs, Orinoco sells PCI and ISA expansion cards for $69. These aren't wireless network cards but, rather, adapters that hold PC Cards. As a result, adding a PC to your wireless setup could cost as much as $168.

Orinoco's PC Card is ideal for a wide array of wireless networks. It is sturdy, Wi-Fi compliant, compatible with just about every OS under the sun, and offers state-of-the-art data-security technology. Who could ask for more? Again, you can click here to get the latest prices.



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