Network Starter Kit
As computer prices drop
and people replace systems more often you will probably find yourself having more
than one computer at some point.
Obviously if you have a high speed internet connection or need to share files
or applications between the multiple systems then you must consider how you will
network these systems together. What was once the domain of large companies and
corporations has now filtered to the home user. One now can easily link their
systems together using LAN (local area network) technology. While there are many
high quality (and expensive) networking solutions available we will focus on the
Linksys Network Starter Kit, a very low cost solution. Most importantly we will
evaluate if its low cost inhibits its performance or reliability.
of the box features a simple diagram that breaks down the installation process
and allows easy review. Installation of the PCI Ethernet cards went without trouble
and upon reboot of Windows both were recognized with plug and play. A word of
warning: the kit that I purchased came with a small sheet of directions for WIN98
that were not included with the user guide. Windows will attempt to install the
Win95 drivers if you do not specify the correct directory on the floppy.
I have mentioned the user guide I’d like to really know why manufacturers continue
to ship their products with out of date manuals and expect the user to be able
to install a component without confusion. The directions in the manual will install
a NIC into a Win95 system, but since Win98 has numerous networking updates it
may cause the unit not to function improperly. With Win98 in its second version
and Windows 2000 around the corner I cannot understand why a manufacturer would
rely on a sheet with sparse instructions to take the place of a well written manual.
To make matters worse the manual is in very small type and is roughly the size
of a book of checks. I’m all for saving forests but this is simply not an adequate
guide for someone who has never installed a networking component before.
cabling provided with the kit is of very good quality and has thick insulation
and quality connectors. This is more than can be said of the cheap cable provided
by my cable modem service as well as the inferior NIC card they provided. I found
the Linksys NIC card to be of better quality construction than the Farallon card
I was using previously and up to par with the 3com card I had used initially with
the cable modem. The 3com card was incompatible with my Abit MB and I was forced
to use the inferior Farallon card for the interim.
hub is surprisingly small and is easily obscured by 4 jewel cases stacked in front
of it. The connections on the rear of the hub are well labeled and because this
kit uses RJ-45 cabling and not coaxial you do not have to worry about placing
the cables in any particular connector. The only connector that is important to
be aware of is the uplink port that will allow you to connect more hubs to increase
your capacity. I used this connector to connect my cable modem despite no instructions
for this procedure in the manual (again – an out of date manual).
- 1 10BaseT 5 port hub
10BaseT Network cards (NIC)
15’ Cables (RJ-45)
disk and user guide
configuring Network Neighborhood I found the kit to offer exceptional value. I
was able to share files between both systems and I found that I was able to access
the CD-Writer in my main system from the second system. I was also able to access
CD-ROMs and floppy drives from both machines. I am now able to surf the net from
both computers simultaneously and share files between them easily.
- Low Cost
to set up
quality cables provided
- Out of date user’s manual
information provided on cable modem hookups
Linksys Network Starter Kit is a very good value at $50. Its high quality components
and ease of hardware setup is marred only by its poor documentation. While a 100BaseT
network would be considerably faster it would not be able to compete with the
pricing of this unit. For most home based needs this kit will satisfy with its
speed and ease of use.