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What's the minimum requirements for wireless internet on a laptop?

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What's the minimum requirements for wireless internet on a laptop?

Old 04-03-06, 01:35 PM
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What's the minimum requirements for wireless internet on a laptop?

I'm looking to get a cheapo laptop off ebay strictly to be used for accessing the internet wirelessly around my house.

What are the minimum specs I would need? I guess I wouldn't even need one with a Windows OS if some version of Linux is easy enough to use only to boot from. But, a USB port for a wireless USB adaptor would have to be a given. Anything else?

I do have a pretty crappy old laptop at home I haven't used in years (like Win98 or even 95), but it doesn't have USB, ethernet or a wireless card slot. Could I do anything with that?
Old 04-03-06, 01:44 PM
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That would depend on the wireless adapater you wanted to use.

I have a PCMCIA D-Link wireless 108G (DWL-G650) new in box sitting in front of me right now. On the spine of the box it states:

"Minimum System Requirements
PC with 300mhz Processor
64mb of ram
cd-rom drive
cardbus Type II slot
Windows XP/2000/Me"

Since you mentioned a wireless USB adapter, you would need to see what the requirements of that device would be.

Personally, I would go a little up from the above spec, 64mb of ram is painfully slow running any of the OS's required.
Old 04-03-06, 02:46 PM
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I haven't tried wireless on Windows 95/98/ME in a long time. So far, all the computers that ran Windows 2000/XP smoothly also ran wireless well.

The slowest computer that I have used in the past year is a PII-233MHz with 128MB RAM. I installed wireless on that without a hitch (Netgear WG111US adapter).
Old 04-03-06, 05:24 PM
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I had an old laptop running win '98se that I used wirelessly and it was kind of a pain. Seemed there were a lot of drivers that needed to be loaded and even some sort of "update" or added feature to Win '98se. I got it working, but it was rather iffy.

I've never had a problem with XP, I would think if you had XP on your machine it could probably handle a wireless card or USB adapter.
Old 04-03-06, 05:32 PM
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How much is "cheapo"?
Old 04-04-06, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by X
How much is "cheapo"?
I haven't set a price I'm willing to spend yet. I'm just trying to gather system facts and start pricing that on ebay.
Old 04-04-06, 11:03 AM
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Keep in mind though ... Dell often has sales where you get a decent NEW notebook computer for
Old 04-04-06, 12:37 PM
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There are brand new notebooks that you can periodically find on sale for $400-$500 that have 1.6GHz CPUs and 802.11g wireless built in.
Old 04-04-06, 12:46 PM
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What sites are you going to browse?

Good luck loading something like ESPN or Gamespot on something with less than 16GB of RAM.
Old 04-04-06, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by The Bus
What sites are you going to browse?

Good luck loading something like ESPN or Gamespot on something with less than 16GB of RAM.
16GBs, eh? I only have 1GB of RAM, and I get along fine!
Old 04-04-06, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by The Bus
Good luck loading something like ESPN or Gamespot on something with less than 16GB of RAM.
Yeah, can you clarify what you really meant here?
Old 07-15-06, 03:58 PM
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Bump this for a question of my own:

What is the advantages/disadvantages for the various methods of adding wireless to a laptop.

I see there are PCMCIA and USB methods. Which is the preferred method? My sister is going away to school, and I need to add wireless to her Dell.

The both seem comparable in price, but is there anything that would make one superior?
Old 07-15-06, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by jon-w9
Bump this for a question of my own:

What is the advantages/disadvantages for the various methods of adding wireless to a laptop.

I see there are PCMCIA and USB methods. Which is the preferred method? My sister is going away to school, and I need to add wireless to her Dell.

The both seem comparable in price, but is there anything that would make one superior?
PCMCIA: "built-in", nothing extra to carry. May have to move laptop around to get reception sweetspot. If signal is strong, it won't matter.

USB: Something more to carry, plug-in. Antenna and circuit on the end of a short cord. You can move it around for best reception, and leave laptop where it most convenient for user. Only matters if reception is marginal.
Old 07-15-06, 04:52 PM
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But don't most PCMCIA cards hang out, so you have to remove them all the time as well, correct?
Old 07-16-06, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by jon-w9
But don't most PCMCIA cards hang out, so you have to remove them all the time as well, correct?
Yes, they stick out a bit such that you may need to remove them for transport. If you buy a relatively modern laptop, there is a good chance that it will have a mini-PCI slot in it (usually hidden by a cover on the bottom, same place as the RAM modules) as well as an antenna (should see the connector under the same cover). You can put a mini-PCI wireless card in there and have built-in wireless. That is usually the best way to go if you can.
Old 07-16-06, 07:27 PM
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I will look. Is there a way to tell if the port is for memory of wireless? Her laptop is a Dell, and I believe wireless was an option, but it was not purchased.

I looked through the ads today, but there was so much crap I couldn't tell which to even look at.
$99 for N series PCMCIA
$89 for MIMO PCMCIA
$80 for Range Max PCMCIA
$70 for MIMO USB
$60 for g plus MIMO PCMCIA or G usb w/ speedbooster
$50 for Super G PCMCIA or USB


This is just Best Buy, but I am not opposed to shopping online. I saw a bunch on newegg, but I am still unsure what to get.

The school site says:
Wireless network cards should be WiFi compliant. All access points support 802.11A, B and G.

Last edited by jon-w9; 07-16-06 at 07:37 PM.
Old 07-16-06, 09:28 PM
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g is backwards compatible to a and b

n is going to be the new wireless standard.
Old 07-16-06, 09:50 PM
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So go N, is it too compatible with a,b, and G?

What is MIMO?
Are the rangemax or speedboost worth anything, or are they just selly jargon?
Old 07-16-06, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by crazyronin
g is backwards compatible to a and b

n is going to be the new wireless standard.
No, g is NOT backwards compatible to a. g and b use 2.4ghz, while a uses 5.8ghz. You can buy a+b+g devices, but they are not that common. n will be backwards compatible to b and g but not a. n is not an official standard yet, and the pre-n solutions have a lot of problems (and may not be upgradeable to the official n standard).
Old 07-16-06, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by jon-w9
I will look. Is there a way to tell if the port is for memory of wireless? Her laptop is a Dell, and I believe wireless was an option, but it was not purchased. [/I]
If wireless was an option, then it almost certainly has a miniPCI slot. My Dell laptop did, and I added a miniPCI wireless card to it that works great. Open the cover on the bottom and look for a rectangular shaped space (larger than a memory module) with a slot for inserting the edge of the card. There will also be a round connector attached to a wire hanging out a bit. This is the antenna. It runs around the entire inside perimeter of the laptop and, thus, is pretty long compared to the antennae in PCMCIA or USB solutions. As such, you will often be able to get a better signal with a miniPCI wireless card (not to mention having in "built in" makes things more convenient).

You will probably not be able to find a miniPCI card in any local stores. You can order one off the Net. I know there was recently a good deal on an IBM one that supported a/b/g for around $30.
Old 07-17-06, 03:42 PM
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If you are talking wireless internet as in linking up with your existing wireless router etc... I have some idea. If you are talking about something like a wireless provider I am clueless.


We actually have an old AST Pentium 200 laptop running Win98

That WILL work on our wireless network. (I gave the laptop to my mom a couple years ago, she bought a new Dell recently so she gave it back) I set it up, just for something to do one day.

It has a Linksys Wireless B card in it... PCMCIA

It actually works with the Belkin Wireless G router. It is kind of a pain to make it work, but it will, something you have to get windows booted up and wait, then go into the little icon thing, and refresh the connection a couple times, and it will work.
Old 07-20-06, 09:13 PM
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OK, I finally got a hold of her today.

Her PC is a Compaq Presario 900, and the tag said model number 901US.


Does this have the slot mentioned? If so, can somebody point me to where I would buy one online. Thanks

I found this:
The user will have no problems upgrading RAM or replacing the HDD as they can be accessed easily. The miniPCI slot is also accessible, but it comes already occupied by the modem. Actually, considering the availability of the modem, LAN and WLAN controllers in the notebook, we can hardly think of a useful device to install into the miniPCI slot. The antenna of the wireless LAN controller is built into the upper cover of the notebook.


So does this mean adding wireless should be done externally? What does this mean?
One interesting part of the Presario 900 is actually located on top of the system. It is here, on the back of the LCD panel, that one finds the Compaq MultiPort module. The MultiPort is intended to provide wireless connectivity to the Presario 900 by mounting the radio and antenna at a convenient and effective location on the system. Out of the box the system comes with a plastic cover over the MultiPort module, but the cover is removed with a simple slide and MultiPort options are easily added on. The current options are an 802.11b wireless network module and a Bluetooth module, both of which are easily snapped onto the top of the laptop. It seems that the MultiPort solution would prove to be a good one for wireless applications, especially considering that the majority of PCMCIA wireless solutions use damage prone external antennas. Plus, the MultiPort module places the antenna in a location that seems to be more apt to receiving radio signals.

Apparently (as of Nov 2001) the multiport card is sold by Compaq for $189. I see a couple of sites for about $80. This seems a bit expensive for a "B" connection. So I am back to my first question.

Last edited by jon-w9; 07-20-06 at 10:08 PM.
Old 07-21-06, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by jon-w9
...
[i]The user will have no problems upgrading RAM or replacing the HDD as they can be accessed easily. The miniPCI slot is also accessible, but it comes already occupied by the modem. ...
Does she need the modem? If not, I'd see about tossing it and using the miniPCI slot for the wireless adaptor.
Old 07-21-06, 01:58 PM
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Except the antenna is in the cover, so would a miniPCI wireless adapter be useful, or would some sort of antenna need to be installed inside the case as well?
Old 07-21-06, 02:49 PM
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Instead of starting another thread thought I would post here. What would be a good cheapo Mac laptop for wireless internet, and a little MS Office work, with a USB port?

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