Wireless Networking Equipment
Linksys WAP54G wireless access point.
A wireless access point (sometimes called an "AP" or "WAP") serves to join or "bridge" wireless clients to a wired Ethernet network. Access points centralize all WiFi clients on a local network in so-called "infrastructure" mode. An access point, in turn, may connect to another access point, or to a wired Ethernet router.
Wireless access points are commonly used in large office buildings to create one wireless local area network (WLAN) that spans a large area. Each access point typically supports up to 255 client computers. By connecting access points to each other, local networks having thousands of access points can be created. Client computers may move or roam between each of these access points as needed.
In home networking, wireless access points can be used to extend an existing home network based on a wired broadband router. The access point connects to the broadband router, allowing wireless clients to join the home network without needing to rewire or reconfigure the Ethernet connections.
As illustrated by the Linksys WAP54G shown above, wireless access points appear physically similar to wireless routers. Wireless routers actually contain a wireless access point as part of their overall package. Like wireless routers, access points are available with support for 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g or combinations.
Wireless Network AdaptersLinksys WPC54G Wireless Network Adapter. linksys.com
A wireless network adapter allows a computing device to join a wireless LAN. Wireless network adapters contain a built-in radio transmitter and receiver. Each adapter supports one or more of the 802.11a, 802.11b, or 802.11g Wi-Fi standards.
Wireless network adapters also exist in several different form factors. Traditional PCI wireless adapters are add-in cards designed for installation inside a desktop computer having a PCI bus. USB wireless adapters connect to the external USB port of a computer. Finally, so-called PC Card or PCMCIA wireless adapters insert into a narrow open bay on a notebook computer.
One example of a PC Card wireless adapter, the Linksys WPC54G is shown above. Each type of wireless network adapter is small, generally less than 6 inches (0.15 m) long. Each provides equivalent wireless capability according to the Wi-Fi standard it supports.
Some notebook computers are now manufactured with built-in wireless networking. Small chips inside the computer provide the equivalent functions of a network adapter. These computers obviously do not require separate installation of a separate wireless network adapter.Linksys WPS54G Wireless Print Server. linksys.com
A wireless print server allows one or two printers to be conveniently shared across a Wi-Fi network. Adding wireless print servers to a network:
- Allows printers to be conveniently located anywhere within wireless network range, not tied to the location of computers
- Does not require a computer be always turned on in order to print
- Does not require a computer to manage all print jobs, that can bog down its performance
- Allows administrators to change computer names and other settings without having to re-configure the network printing settings.
A wireless print server must be connected to printers by a network cable, normally USB 1.1 or USB 2.0. The print server itself can connect to a wireless router over Wi-Fi, or it can be joined using an Ethernet cable.
Most print server products include setup software on a CD-ROM that must be installed on one computer to complete the initial configuration of the device. As with network adapters, wireless print servers must be configured with the correct network name (SSID) and encryption settings. Additionally, a wireless print server requires client software be installed on each computer needing to use a printer.Linksys WGA54G Wireless Game Adapter. linksys.com
A wireless game adapter connects a video game console to a Wi-Fi home network to enable Internet or head-to-head LAN gaming. Wireless game adapters for home networks are available in both 802.11b and 802.11g varieties. An example of an 802.11g wireless game adapter appears above, the Linksys WGA54G.
Wireless game adapters can be connected either to a wireless router using an Ethernet cable (for best reliability and performance) or over Wi-Fi (for greater reach and convenience). Wireless game adapter products include setup software on a CD-ROM that must be installed on one computer to complete initial configuration of the device. As with generic network adapters, wireless game adapters must be configured with the correct network name (SSID) and encryption settings.
Wireless Internet Video CamerasLinksys WVC54G Wireless Internet Video Camera. linksys.com
A wireless Internet video camera allows video (and sometimes audio) data to be captured and transmitted across a WiFi computer network. Wireless Internet video cameras are available in both 802.11b and 802.11g varieties. The Linksys WVC54G 802.11g wireless camera is shown above.