Notebook PCs go wireless

Notebook PCs go wireless

WiFi and Bluetooth technology available on many new products

BY PATRICIA DAUKANTAS | GCN STAFF

Most notebook PC makers' newest models can make connections wirelessly under the WiFi or wireless fidelity standard. Shorter-range Bluetooth radio-frequency connectivity is less common and usually optional.

WiFi, the IEEE 802.11b wireless standard, has an indoor operating range of about 300 feet. Wireless hubs known as access points can link multiple WiFi computers into a wireless LAN in a building or on a campus.

With only a 10-foot range, Bluetooth is more of a cable-replacement technology than a true wireless LAN, said Jay White, portable line manager at Micron Electronics Inc. of Nampa, Idaho. Bluetooth connects a notebook to a printer, a wireless phone or other peripherals in what is called a personal area network.

Standard equipment

Micron's Transport LT, GX and GX Plus notebooks all come with 802.11b-compliant PC Cards, which also can be added as upgrades to existing notebooks.

With wireless service provider Symbol Technologies of Holtsville, N.Y., Micron offers a package of services including site surveys for access-point siting, installation and maintenance.

The company also will sell the card and services package to users of other makers' notebooks.

The wireless LAN card and one access point list for $169 and $699, respectively.

A Transport GX with a 14-inch screen, 64M of RAM, 10G hard drive, three-year warranty, wireless card and one access point sells for $2,703.

Micron has no current plans to incorporate Bluetooth, White said. More details appear at www.micronpc.com.

Hewlett-Packard Co. late last year announced a Bluetooth PC Card option for its OmniBook 500 [GCN, Nov. 20, 2000, Page 45]. HP also sells 802.11b wireless LAN PC Cards. For details, visit www.hp.com.

Toshiba America Information Systems Inc.'s new Tecra 8200 notebook has an 802.11b antenna integrated into its casing, plus an optional Bluetooth PC Card.

Although the Tecra 8200 can be built to order, Toshiba packages a trio of combinations with a 750-MHz or an 850-MHz Mobile Pentium III, 128M of RAM and a choice of 10G or 20G hard drives. Without Bluetooth cards, the estimated prices range from $2,899 to $3,499.

IBM's new ThinkPad iSeries 1300 notebooks have integrated 802.11b connections to IBM's High Rate Wireless LAN Access Point. Prices range from $1,449 to $1,599 for notebooks with 650- or 700-MHz Celeron processors and 64M of memory.

Other ThinkPads can be ordered with IBM's High Rate Wireless LAN PC Cards, and IBM also sells a Bluetooth PC Card for both notebook and desktop computers.

Soon IBM will bring out an UltraPort option, which will let a user plug a Bluetooth-enabled device into a PC's Universal Serial Bus port to synchronize data.

More information is at www.pc.ibm.com/us/thinkpad/index.html.

The Dell Latitude C600 and Latitude C800 notebooks have internal wireless antennas that will work with Dell's soon-to-debut TrueMobile PC Card.

Dell will likely take up the Bluetooth standard 'once we have a sense for how quickly it becomes adopted,' spokesman Cody Pinkston said. Visit www.dell.com/latitude.

Gateway Inc. sells the 802.11b-compliant Orinoco Gold PC Card from Lucent Technologies Inc. of Murray Hill, N.J., as a $199 option for government buyers of Gateway Solo notebooks. A Lucent Orinoco AP-1000 access point is $995.

Current Solos have processors ranging from the 550-MHz Intel Celeron to the 800-MHz Pentium III.
For details, visit www.gatewayatwork.com/gw_atwork/government.shtml.

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