Print From Anywhere
A wireless print server (about $80) connects a printer to your wireless network, allowing every computer to access one printer. Plus, your printer doesn't have to take up precious desktop real estate. You could put it in a closet or a cabinet (as long as it has an outlet).
Even your TV can get in on the wireless act. If you have TiVo, an adapter (about $60) will connect it to your wireless network. This allows you to schedule recordings online if you're away from home. You also can use it to transfer shows from one TiVo box to another, meaning you could record a show in the family room and watch it later in the bedroom. Visit www.tivo.com.
Log On Everywhere
How it works: Wireless networks communicate through radio signals rather than wires. Also called Wi-Fi (short for wireless fidelity), the network uses a router (such as this one from Linksys, about $80) to connect every computer in the house to each other and to the same Internet connection. If you have a laptop, you can log on to the Internet from any room or even the yard.
What you need: Even if you have a router, you still need a broadband modem to gain access to the Internet through an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The modem connects to the router. Your computer will need a network adapter. If one is not already installed in your computer, you will need to purchase one. Once a laptop has a network adapter card, you can also access the Web from "hot spots" (public networks) such as airports or coffee shops. Tip: Just make sure you buy a cup of joe before logging on. In May, a Michigan man was arrested for sitting in a coffee shop parking lot and accessing the store's Wi-Fi connection. Accessing a connection without the owner's permission, called piggybacking, is a crime.
The network ABCs: Before you buy a router, decide which wireless standard is best for you. The standard determines what equipment you buy and the cost. Wireless B is the least expensive. It also offers the slowest connection. Most public networks use this. Wireless G offers faster speed than B and is better for transferring larger files. Wireless A is five times faster than B but it isn't compatible with other standards, so you can't use an A adapter card to access public networks. Wireless N is the fastest and is good for streaming high-definition video and Internet phone connections. (It's also the most expensive.)
Get the signal: Place the router on an upper floor or on top of furniture. Thick walls, fish tanks, and metal can impede good reception. Use a device called a wireless access point (WAP) to rebroadcast Wi-Fi signals around problem areas. Position components away frominterference-causing devices, such as cordless phones and baby monitors.