Here’s a story about a new device that has a happy ending. If you’ve ever used a wireless network, you know the range is never as far as you thought it would be, and they’re just not quite troublefree. I had spots in the house that were out of range of my wireless access point, so I grabbed an impulse purchase off the CompUSA shelves – the Netgear WGXB102 54Gbps Wall-Plugged Wireless Range Extender Kit. (Somebody in marketing really worked hard on that name, eh?)

There’s two small boxes. One attaches to your existing router (wireless or not, any manufacturer) with a network cable, and plugs into the wall.

The other plugs into an electrical outlet somewhere else in the house and sends an 802.11g wireless signal into the air – a new access point providing additional wireless coverage.

That’s it. It’s just about that simple. Some people will find that they are up and running with it inside of ten minutes. My home network is complex enough that I had to spend a happy half-hour or so configuring IP addresses and SSIDs to my satisfaction, but it still was a pretty elegant setup.

Under the hood, the two devices are doing “powerline networking,” running standard TCP/IP network traffic through the electrical system of the house – but making a seamless transition back to your existing devices running on Cat5 cable and 802.11b/g wireless networking. You can plug additional devices in for a larger wireless area, or to act as bridges to distant cabled computers and devices. I’m impressed with the design.

(Standard disclaimer: I love all of you but I can’t guarantee you will also have good luck. If you buy one of these, you may spend hours in hell talking to an incomprehensible support person in India. I will sympathize but I can’t be your living warranty. May the gods be with you.)

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