Who worries about setting up a modem these days? You just plug it into the wall and it works. Three or four years ago things were a lot more complicated, but now you expect it all to be automated. Wireless networking is only just making this transition from black art to no-brain science and some products still need a lot of fiddling to get them working. That’s not true of this neat little wireless PC Card.
KCorp’s mission seems to be to make things in the wireless field as simple as possible to set up and use. The KLS-520 is an innocuous PC Card which, when plugged into any CardBus PCMCIA slot in your notebook, projects out by a couple of centimetres. This is the only niggle we have with the device, as it’s all too easy to knock it on something as you put your notebook down on a desk or table.
The main reason for the comparatively big projection seems to be to position the connection and activity lights on the top surface of the card. If this is the only reason, it would be better to put them on the back edge and halve the distance the card sticks out.
To test the KLS-520, we plugged it into an old IBM ThinkPad 770 running Windows 98SE. This is not a machine geared to do wireless networking, but once we’d run the installation Wizard supplied by KCorp, we found ourselves connected to the Internet on broadband, as the card had linked to our Linksys router, been assigned an IP address, discovered the broadband connection and used it to go on line. It was one of the least painful bits of wireless networking we’ve yet been involved in.
As regards range, there was a predictable drop-off in data rate as we moved further and further from the router, but we were still able to use the device from any room in the house, an old cottage with thick granite walls. Software on the CD supplied with the card includes a set-up and monitor utility, as well as the installation Wizard, and this applet shows real-time signal strength and reception bar graphs.
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