Network Building, Without Teeth Gnashing

Building small PC networks can be a daunting task, even for the technically adept. It's easy to get all tangled up choosing wiring, software, and the plug-in adapter cards needed to set up a typical local-area network (LAN). Now, an arm of Alliance Research Corp., a maker of accessories for computers and cellular phones based in Chatsworth, Calif., is offering a low-cost LAN kit designed for customers who can't stand the thought of opening the boxes to link PCs together.

Data Spec's Let's Talk entry-level package, listing for $279.95, provides gear to connect two computers. Rather than diving into the guts of your computer, you simply connect Data Spec's networking cable to the standard printer port found on most IBM PC-compatible machines. Each additional PC, up to a maximum of 200 computers and 600 printers, costs $139.95. What's more, Let's Talk is so simple, even mass merchandisers such as Circuit City Stores Inc. and Brands Mart Midwest will be able to sell network setups without hiring technical sales personnel, Data Spec says.