ad info


Asiaweek TIMEASIA.com CNN.com
 > technology
 home
 intelligence
 web features
 magazine archive
 technology
 newsmap
 customer service
 subscribe
 TIMEASIA.COM
 CNN.COM
  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia
  australasia
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 SHOWBIZ
 ASIA WEATHER
 ASIA TRAVEL

Other News
TIME.com
TIME Europe
FORTUNE.com
FORTUNE China
MONEY.com
Asiaweek Services
Contact Asiaweek
About Asiaweek
Media Kit
Get up to 3 months of Asiaweek free when you subscribe online!


NOVEMBER 17, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 45 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK

Watch That — Oops! —Wire
Lucent's Orinoco RG1000 lets PC users cast off their phone wires and still surf or network with impunity
By YASMIN GHAHREMANI

I never met an electrical cable I didn't eventually trip over. Since I like to use my laptop computer on my couch, with a long cord snaking across the room to the nearest phone jack, I'm living dangerously. Some day, when I least expect it, I'll tangle with that cord and send my computer flying to an untimely demise. I could take comfort in knowing that others are in peril. Lots of people like to sit in front of the TV while handling e-mail or surfing the Web. And in Asia, where phone jacks are few and far between, I'm sure more than a few chefs risk garroting a family member because they want to check recipes online while they cook.

Apple Computer answered our plea for a safer home environment last year when it released the Airport, which provides a cordless connection to the Internet for iBook laptops. The PC world now has a rough equivalent: Lucent's Orinoco RG1000, a wireless base station for the home or small office. From some angles it bears an uncanny resemblance to a household clothing iron, whereas the Airport looks more like a hockey puck from outer space.

Lucent calls the RG1000 a "residential gateway," and it's a tempting solution to cable chaos. Not only can you access the Internet, the RG1000 theoretically permits wireless networking of multiple computers, remote printers and other peripherals, providing they are equipped with compatible transmitter/receivers (tranceivers). The base station can be placed almost anywhere. It uses radio waves for digital transmission, so signals can travel through walls. "People with cable [Internet] connections especially like it, because the modem is often near the TV and might be far away from where the computer is," says Brian See, Asia-Pacific business development manager for Lucent. We don't have peripherals at my house. But there is that laptop, and the couch beckons beguilingly.

Setting up the residential gateway appears simple enough. Connect the base station to wall outlets and slide an included transceiver into a PC card slot in your laptop. The whole package is supposed to be "plug and play," but like so many devices new to the market, this one didn't play well with Windows. After hours of futile attempts to get it to work — replete with an error message that was erroneously displayed, and a trip into the bowels of Windows to install a hidden driver — we got it up and running. Not the editorial "we." I had to beg See to make a house call before my PC was ready for untethered surfing.

Once set-up was accomplished, however, it worked like a breeze. To connect, you click an Orinoco icon on your Windows taskbar or simply open your browser. I was able to access the Web from any room in the house. Like the Airport, the RG1000 uses the 802.11b wireless transmission standard, meaning it can transmit data at rates of up to 11 megabits per second, far faster than ordinary Internet connections. Surfing by the pool is a possibility. You can wander up to 50 meters from the base station. Transmission speeds fall off at greater distances, but the RG1000 outperforms devices using the much-hyped "Bluetooth" wireless transmission technology. Bluetooth's range is only 10 meters and data rates are a comparatively stately one megabit per second. That may be okay for synching your Palm Pilot with your computer, but for transferring large amounts of data such as MP3 files, 802.11b is the standard of choice.

Lucent is pushing the RG1000 for small offices as well as homes, since it can wirelessly link multiple computers. IBM already makes a PC with built-in 802.11b capability, and others will follow. The "networked home" is not quite reality — printers and appliances aren't yet equipped for wireless — but the Orinoco is a good indication of where the industry is heading.

Being the first in your apartment block to own a wireless residential gateway is not cheap. The RG1000 kit costs $450. That includes one PC-card transceiver. You'll have to buy more of them if you want to hook up additional devices (Lucent plans to offer transceivers for about $200 that can be plugged into any computer or peripheral with a USB port). Is the wireless way worth it? See notes that networking a home or office by bashing plaster and stringing cable everywhere is far more expensive. Still, $450 is a lot to pay for the convenience of couch surfing. Then again, it's a lot less than the new laptop I'll have to buy if I continue to booby trap my home with phone cords.

Back to the top

Write to Asiaweek at mail@web.asiaweek.com

Asiaweek Technology Home | Asiaweek.com Home

AsiaNow


Quick Scroll: More stories from Asiaweek, TIME and CNN

   LATEST HEADLINES:

WASHINGTON
U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

MANILA
Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

ALLAHABAD
Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

COLOMBO
Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

TOKYO
Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

BANGKOK
Thai party announces first coalition partner



TIME:

COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state



ASIAWEEK:

COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness


Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN
 Search
  ASIAWEEK'S LATEST
Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?


  TECHNOLOGY
ASIAWEEK.COM

ASIAWEEK.com
Vol. 2 No. 8


COVER: Storming Asia
U.S.-based yahoo is Asia's internet portal of choice, but rival dotcoms are spoiling for a fight

Banter-Bots: want to chat online with john lennon? how about a wisecracking hamster? chatbots are the talk of the web

Expletive Deleted: keeping your kids away from porn is made easier with the right programs, but "chaperone-ware" can't completely sanitize cyberspace

Pulse: China gets a net game, fuel cells meet cellphones, cd-roms that hold 10 million books, and the latest in hands-free headsets

Politics.com: Anti-estrada protests and resignation petitions build to a roar on the philippines web

Index: The asiaweek/cnn internet index may have hit bottom at last

Toolbox: Lucent's "residential gateway" offers wireless internet access from anywhere in your house — once you get it to work

Wired Exec: an environmental activist's love-hate relationship with tech

Asiaweek Technology Home

Asiaweek/CNN Internet Index: Track our Asian high-tech stocks

Back to the top   © 2000 Asiaweek. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.