One TES Online contributor refers to home wireless networking as "the dark arts". So how good and easy to use are the broadband wireless routers now appearing in high street computer shops?
D-Link's DI-624 Airplus Xtreme allows up to four Ethernet plug-in connections as well as its wireless networking capabilities (standards up to the fastest available).
The first attempt to connect was with an Apple G5. It was simple. Connect an ethernet lead from the broadband modem to the D-Link and one from the D-Link into the G5. Restart the G5 and type in the D-Link's IP address (provided) into the browser address window. That takes you to the set-up browser software in the router.
Happily there is a set-up wizard to help. Unhappily, it did not work for Apple, coming to a sad halt when looking for the network provider. However, browsing through the windows and following the diagram instructions in the booklet allowed for connection of both G5 and wireless within minutes even if the process was not comprehensively understood.
This allowed wireless connection to any compatible computer (we tried three Tablets and two laptops) anywhere in a two-floor maisonette. The only snags were extremely minor breaks in connections at weak points in delivery - and some intermittent ones that could just have easily been a problem with the broadband service.
So far, so good. What about PC connection? The trusty Toshiba laptop made friends with the "wizard" right away, let it clone its computer "id" (known as a mac number) to give it access to the broadband service (Blueyonder), then everything else was simple.
The only additional task was setting up security and this involves just clicking one button and then allocating codes to the wireless connections.
Simple and painless.
Although this was all possible without being a technical expert, network set-up generally is still aimed more at professionals than amateurs. For example I have yet to come across a simple message that says something like "you are not connected to your internet supplier and these are the possible reasons..." You still have to find out the hard way and that can be surprising. But that nag aside, the D-link gave almost instant home networking straight out of the box. And did not require one telephone call to technical support.
D-Link DI-624 AirPlus Xtreme G+ Wireless router for homesmall business, with four ethernet connections, rrp pound;97 ex VAT D-link Tel: 020 8731 5550 www.d-link.co.uk
Fitness for purpose ***** Features ***** Ease of use *** Quality **** Value for money *****