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.