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Laptops with Embedded Wireless Technology

Choose your WLAN technology wisely, because upgrading later will be costly. Laptops with 2.4-GHz-only antennas, for example, will never be able to support 5-GHz radios, and most manufacturers don't offer a mini-PCI upgrade. If, during the notebook's lifetime, your organization plans to migrate from 802.11b to the faster (54-Mbps) 802.11a and 802.11g standards, shelling out a few extra bucks now will pay off in the long run.

In fact, going with an all-in-one 802.11a/b/g solution makes the most sense. This will cover the 2.4- and 5-GHz frequency ranges, and support 54-Mbps wireless. Half of all embedded-wireless notebooks purchased by the beginning of 2005 will support 802.11a/b/g, according to consultancy Gartner, underscoring the importance of putting up extra cash now to be ready for the future.

Fifty percent of all Intel Pentium M processors are now being shipped with Intel's 802.11b Centrino technology. That number is expected to grow by the end of 2004 with the release of an 802.11b/g Centrino product this quarter and an 802.11a/b/g product this summer. Notebooks displaying the Centrino logo incorporate the Pentium-M 855 chipset, along with Intel's Mini-PCI wireless NIC. This scenario offers you the benefits of an entire Intel package but not a best-of-breed solution, as Centrino technology currently is restricted to 11b support.

Try looking past the marginal savings of investing in Intel's shiny Centrino campaign and consider a more versatile solution embracing all three wireless technologies. Dell Computer, for example, lets its customers upgrade their laptops from Intel's 802.11b Centrino to a Broadcom 802.11b/g mini-PCI for $29 or $49; it also offers 802.11a/b/g for $59 or $69, depending on the laptop model. And Toshiba offers a wide variety of wireless solutions from Atheros Communications, Cisco Systems and Intel.

Antenna Placement

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