A wireless connection isn't just handy when you're out and about. There are more options for going wireless at home, whether it's so you can enjoy catch-up TV you've downloaded on your actual telly (rather than the PC screen) or so you can work in a peaceful corner of the house.
Faster Wi-Fi in the form of the 802.11n chipset is now available in the latest Vista and Mac-based laptops. Updating the backbone of your home Wi-Fi setup to match therefore makes sense.
It's easier than ever to set up a home network. The hope is that this will mean consumers end up with secured Wi-Fi, rather than skipping the encryption part of the installation process.
1. Setting up a wireless network involves choosing a suitable wireless router (with a built-in modem, if you're starting from scratch) and checking it will work with your existing Wi-Fi kit. If you're getting a draft-n router, this will work with b and g hardware, but 802.11a kit is now largely obsolete.
2. Follow the instructions that came with your router to install the hardware. You may be prompted to check online for firmware updates that will boost performance and aid compatibility. These are issued extremely frequently, so this is worth doing. Once installed, the router will automatically change any settings it needs to.
3. Depending on the router you've chosen, you may be able to automatically log into your router by simply pressing Return, but we recommend you choose the option to require a login instead. If your router is to be used by multiple users, however, the crucial thing is to ensure that your network is encrypted.
4. Check for firmware updates on your router maker's website. If there's an update, you'll need to download it, click the router option on the configuration screen and then browse to the new file. Once it's installed, you should restart the router and click the Status tab to confirm it's been updated.
5. The router should be configured as a wireless access point. This makes the router ‘discoverable' but also means other devices can find and log into it, unless you secure it. If yours hasn't got an autodiscovery feature, you'll need to enter an alphanumeric sequence in the SSID field to encrypt it.
6. Now you simply need to tell the router where you're based and which channel(s) it should use (this is normally done automatically). Tick ‘Enable Wireless Access Point' and make sure you specify that only devices with the same MAC code can log on. Enter your network key when prompted and click Apply.