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Posted: January 19, 2000
Written by: Chris Burek
If you've got more than one computer in your household, a local area network (LAN) is an addition you might deem viable if you find the sharing of files, resources, Internet access, and various other functions appealing.
S3 has introduced their home networking alternatives under the Diamond HomeFree line, which consist of the HomeFree Wireless and HomeFree Phoneline 10mbps. The former consists of one PCI and one ISA ethernet card, and transfer up to 150-feet apart at speeds of up to 1mbps, using a 2.4GHz ISM band. This setup eliminates the hassle of wires. The latter includes two PCI ethernet cards equipped with RJ4 ports, which connect to your phone line, and transfers at a much faster 10mbps. Neither the Wireless or Phoneline require the use of a hub, as each connect directly to each other.
The comparison below displays the differences between the two kits:
The software and network setup for both kits is automated mainly via the installation program, so previous knowledge of setting up a network is not necessary. The Wireless uses iVasion's WinNAT for Internet sharing, whereas the Phoneline uses WinGate 3.0 from Deerfield. Both proved to be adequate in performance.
Hardware installation is rather straightforward and comparable to that of any add-in card. Both kits support Plug and Play, and shouldn't be a hassle. For the HomeFree Wireless, there are no wires to connect, however the Phoneline uses standard RJ-45 phone cords to connect to your existing phone lines. It should be noted the operation of the HomeFree Phoneline network does not interfere with your phone service, so you can make/receive phone calls, send faxes, or connect to the Internet while the network is in use.