Table: Home Wireless Checklist

If you want to take the plunge and install a wireless network in your home, here's what you'll need

FAST INTERNET ACCESS

Sure, it's nice to share a printer or retrieve files from other computers. But it's getting online from anywhere in your house that makes setting up a network worthwhile. For most people, this will mean high-speed cable or DSL service, costing about $50 to $60 per month plus $100 or so for a modem.

WIRELESS CARDS

You'll need one for each PC. Internal cards for desktops cost about $50, and units that plug into a USB port are $100 or so. For laptops, credit-card-size PC cards cost roughly $100, while a built-in one goes for about $150 on a new machine.

ACCESS POINT

If you only want to share an Internet connection--and don't need to swap files among computers--then a simple wireless access point is enough. They're easy to configure and run from about $150 to $200.

WIRELESS ROUTER

This is a combo access point and router, which lets computers in your network communicate with one another. They cost around $200. You can also buy a stand-alone router for less than $100 and combine it with an access point.

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