Until recently, the idea of setting up a computer network at home was too daunting for most home users. Even if you had the technical expertise to link your PCs and peripherals, you still faced the problem of hiding all those unsightly cables. But a new wave of home networking kits could make the task as simple as hooking up a stereo.
Why would you want to network home PCs? Vendors say Internet access is the most popular application: Home networking kits include software programs that enable multiple PCs to access the Net simultaneously through a single ISP account. These kits also let users share other peripherals, and play multiplayer games.
ActionTec‘s ActionLink Home Networking Kit and Boca Research‘s HAN Kit (both examined in beta versions) use your home’s existing phone line wires. Because the cards use a higher frequency than the phone line’s voice band, you can still make calls while the PCs are linked.
Both kits are easy to set up. After I installed network PCI adapter cards inside my PCs, I completed the remainder of the process quickly and painlessly thanks to excellent documentation and to Windows Plug and Play’s instant of the installed boards. I connected a standard phone line from the card to the closest phone jack, ran through the installation utility–and was finished.