By now your kids have probably convinced you to get broadband Internet service - that is, a cable or DSL modem. It is nice to have an "always on" connectionafter all those years of dial-up, right? Now they're hinting that you should set up wireless, a.k.a. "Wi-Fi," networking. Admittedly, you're wooed by the possibility of surfing the Web from the sofa or elsewhere.
What you need to know Yes, Wi-Fi can give you freedom to move around with your laptop, and it allows Web access for multiple computers. But setting up a full-out network can be frustrating.
The cool-boomer solution There is a shortcut. But first things first: Are your computers Wi-Fi enabled? (Most laptops made since 2003 are; desktops generally aren't.) If not, you can buy a Wi-Fi USB adapter for around $30. Now, if all you'd really like to do is work from the couch, consider wall-plug, a.k.a. "powerline," Ethernet adapters, such as the Netgear XE104G ($120 for two). You plug one into an electric socket near your modem, then plug another into the socket closest to your La-Z-Boy. Congrats, you have just created a bridge through your home's electrical wiring. If you also want the ability to share files, printers and Web access, you'll need a wireless "router" ($30 to $200) - preferably Linksys or Netgear for PC; AirPort Extreme for Mac - and the phone number for the Geek Squad.