FOR MANY PEOPLE, WIRE CABLES ARE ANTITHETICAL TO what notebook computers are all about--mobility and freedom. But cables have been the only means of transferring large data files between a portable and a desktop machine--until now.
Adaptec Inc.'s AIRPort system connects any two personal computers using an invisible stream of infrared signals. The $120 AIRPort 2000 is about the size of a deck of cards and connects to the serial port of any desktop PC to allow it to communicate with the infrared sensors found on many current notebook PCs, including models in Gateway 2000's Liberty and IBM's ThinkPad lines. The $190 AIRPort 2500 adds a transmitter and a receiver for older portable PCs that lack a sensor. Using software developed by Puma Technology Inc., AIRPort can zap computer files back and forth at a speedy 115,200 bits per second--eight times the speed of current high-end modems. The drawbacks: AIRPort-equipped computers have a limited range of 61/2 feet and must have an unobstructed view of each other, which could be a problem on cluttered office desks.