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pitroad

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I need advice regarding the purchase and configuration of an additional laptop. I currently have a 4 year old Dell Dimension 8100. A small system by todays standard (Pentium 4; 1.3 Ghz; 256 RDRAM; 2 40 GB hard drives). My ISP is Roadrunner and I have Vonage as my home phone service via a RT31P2 router (no wireless).
My wife is bugging me to get her a 'Computer' so she can do her emails and surf the net when she wants. I have put this off but am thinking since we pay almost all our bills online anymore it would be nice to have a portable laptop to take with us when out of town and keep up with things. We are both retired.
What I want is an additional laptop she can use anywhere in the house and use our current broadband connection. I also would like to be able to use this new laptop in the wifi world (coffee shops; etc)
So my questions are:

1. What do I need to make this work (hardware/software) ?
2. Can my current pc stay wired or must it be converted to wireless
3. What is the least expensive laptop I can get by with and still email and surf

Any insight will be appreciated.
 

JohnWill

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You can buy a broadband wireless router, which also has wired capability. You'll connect the desktop using a CAT5 cable to the router, then configure the wireless for the laptop. For inexpensive laptops, you can frequently get one for $500 or less after rebate, check here for a week or two and watch the laptop bargains. You'll also find routers dirt cheap if you watch for them at the same time. :)

Deal News

Tech Bargains

More Stuff 4 Less

For instance, I see a Dell for $449 on Deal News right now. ;)
 
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Here is what I would do to make it easy -

1. What do I need to make this work (hardware/software) ?
A. Make sure your Laptop you buy is equipped with a Wireless B/G card.
B. Buy a wireless access point.

Note some people will tell you about buying a second router this is chheaper but there is a special way it HAS to be setup to work. If you want to save some money and are technical you can look at this forum for Johnwills connecting 2 soho routers together post.

2. Can my current pc stay wired or must it be converted to wireless
Yes by buying a wirless access point it should be able to plug right into oone of the free ports on your router. leaving the other ports available for things to be wired.

3. What is the least expensive laptop I can get by with and still email and surf
I have seen brand new non refurbished PC's at 500$ after rebate. WIth only needing emails and web surfing you really only need minimum spec PC's.

For example I bought my wife a Celeron 1.8 with 512 megs ram for 559$ after rebate... She is more than pleased as thats all she does.

I got her the protection plan as I know what she does to her laptop it was still under 800$'s and the screen is protected as well.
 

JohnWill

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Connecting two SOHO broadband routers together.

Configure the IP address of the secondary router to be in the same subnet as the primary router, but out of the range of the DHCP server in the primary router. For instance DHCP server addresses 192.168.0.2 through 192.168.0.100, I'd assign the secondary router 192.168.0.254 as it's IP address.

Disable the DHCP server in the secondary router.

Setup the wireless section just the way you would if it was the primary router.

Connect from the primary router's LAN port to one of the LAN ports on the secondary router. If there is no uplink port and neither of the routers have auto-sensing ports, use a cross-over cable. Leave the WAN port unconnected!
 

TerryNet

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1. Buy a laptop with an integrated wireless adapter ("wireless ready'). An integrated adapter is not necessarily better than an PCMCIA card or a USB wireless adapter, but is a lot more convenient with a laptop.

For the wireless network in your home, buy a 54Mbps wireless router with 4-port switch ($15-$25 if you look for specials and/or rebates), and then configure it as a switch and wireless access point (many JohnWill posts here for "connect two SOHO routers").

2. Your current PC can remain wired.

3. Almost any used laptop with Windows 98SE and an added wireless adapter should be satisfactory for email and web surfing.

For new, least expensive would probably be around $500, such as the Dell B130: http://www.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/featured_basnb?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs

However, I would not buy a new PC w/o at least 512 meg RAM, and preferably 1 gig.
 

JohnWill

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FWIW, I'll take a new laptop with a new warranty every time unless the used one is a GREAT deal. :)
 

pitroad

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How does my Vonage phone adapter come in to play ? My current configuration is cable>cable modem>RT31P2> the RT31P2 has an ethernet port to my pc and phone port i connect to my phone jack. What will the new configuration be ?
 
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The built-in 3-port switch lets you attach three local PCs directly, or daisy-chain out to more hubs and switches as your network grows.
There should be more ethernet ports on the back of the router that are not used... It should not affect the phones at all when it comes to my solution of justp lugging in a wireless access point.
 

TerryNet

Terry
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And see JohnWill's post #4 if you get a wireless router. The wired PC could stay connected to the current router, or be wired to another LAN port on the wireless router.

FWIW, I agree with the comment on new vs. used. As long as you can afford the money today, get a little more (new) computer than you really need, so that you will still be somewhat satisfied 3 or 5 years for now. Memory is the main thing, although it can usually be increased later.
 

pitroad

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Thanks for all the info. Right now I am looking at going this route:

1. replace my RT31P2 with a Linksys WRTP54G (4 ethernet ports, wireless port, phone ports and compatable with Vonage)
2. Looking at the Dell E1505 laptop (it's on sale for $699)

If I'm understanding things right I can use this one router for all 3 of my needs (desktop;wireless laptop, and phone).

Do you see any gottcha's ..... should it be pretty much plug and play ?
 
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Do you see any gottcha's .....
Only gotcha I see is that this is an all in one device meaning if you have a problem with any part of it you have to replace the whole unit... Some people like all in ones. I am leery of them for the most part.

But as far as working... no it should do what your looking for just fine.
 

pitroad

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Jul 28, 2003
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Well I ended up purchasing a WRT54GL router instead. Will keep the RT31P2 as a phone adapter only and run my desktop and laptop off the new router. That means I will go from cable modem to WRT54GL router to RT31P2. Hope the conf. doesn't get too confusing. Lost out on the Dell deal. It was a one day only deal so I'm keeping an eye on the 3 sites JohnWill listed above. Looking hard at this : HP Pavilion dv4250us Centrino 1.6GHz 15.4" Notebook for $750 shipped after rebate ....... not sure yet. Anyone have knowledge of this system.
 
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