To wire or not to wire--that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the home office to suffer the pings and time-outs of outrageously slow phone- and AC-wiring, or to take arms against a sea of slow connections, and by adding a 10BASE-T end them.
OK, enough with the Shakespeare. (Even we had to try and cash in on the Bard.) Lots of SOHOwners, however, don't even get the chance to soliloquize about the state of their office networks because they're actually SOHO-renters, and landlords tend to not like tenants bashing into walls to install high-speed wiring.
The good news is, we were taking poetic license. And though phone-line, power-line and wireless networking connections may be a little slow, they're quite adequate for shared file and Internet access. So here are some networking options that will keep your info flowing and your walls intact:
*Tut Systems' HomeRun technology uses existing phone lines to create a 1 Mbps (megabit per second) network that can handle up to 25 PCs and peripherals. Some newer computers come with HomeRun technology already installed; if yours doesn't, you can take advantage of the HomeRun networking technology incorporated into Intel's AnyPoint Home Network product line (http://www.intel.com/anypoint). Each PC requires a parallel-port adaptor ($189 for the basic two-PC setup; $99 for each additional PC), which plugs in to your PC's parallel port and a nearby phone jack. If you're using your parallel port for another peripheral, you can install a PCI Card ($79) internally into your PC. A faster 10 Mbps upgrade should be available early next year.
*Intelogis' PassPort Plug-In Network (http://www.intelogis.com) uses electrical outlets to connect PCs and printers. It works like the AnyPoint system: You plug the PassPort PC adaptor in to your wall outlet and attach it to your PC's parallel port with provided parallel cables. Your printer connects to the PassPort device rather than to your PC, so you're free to put your printer anywhere there's an electrical outlet. The Starter Kit ($150) includes equipment to connect two PCs and one printer. Additional PassPort PC and Printer adaptors cost $60 each.
*Proxim's Symphony Cordless Networking Suite (http://www.proxim.com) is ideal if you want to network both desktops and laptops. Symphony uses a radio frequency solution (2.4 GHz) to transmit data within a 150-foot range. You can network up to 10 computers at 1.6 Mbps via a Symphony Cordless ISA or PCA Card ($149) for each desktop computer and a PC Card ($199) for your laptops. For cordless network access to the Net, try the Cordless Modem ($299).
New Jersey State League of Municipalities,http://www.njslom.com