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Please bear with my questions which some of you will think are simple. I just discovered this site today, and I need some advice from users who are more up-to-date than I am.

I currently own a G5 desktop running 10.4.11. It has an airport card. I am researching buying the lowest end Mac laptop which has a duo processor and comes with Leopard. I mainly want the laptop to carry on the road with me to be able to check the internet in hotel rooms instead of having to deal with working on a hotel computer in the business room of the hotel.

The laptop says it comes with airport wireless 802.11n. I have been reading reviews today on line of wireless routers, and most of them are much less expensive than the Apple Airport Base Station or Extreme Station. First, are there reliable wireless routers out there which will work just as well with the Macs without spending the money that Apple charges? If so, please recommend one.

Secondly, I receive dsl internet through BellSouth, and if I understand this right, I would plug my connection line from BellSouth straight into a wireless router and then both of the computers would receive the wireless signal. Is that correct? Or would the external modem still be a part of this process?

Thirdly, my husband and I usually stay at Marriott chains -- Fairfield Inn, Courtyards, Spring Hill Suites, and I have been looking at their set-ups in the room. I have seen where a guest just plugs an Ethernet cable into the wall or into something on the desk. I have also seen a note that a guest could secure a card to plug into the computer from the main desk. Will I have any problems with taking the laptop on the road and using it in my room with any of these set-ups?

Finally, I have heard of people who drive by a house or live nearby a house with a wireless connection picking up signals on their computers. Will the router I buy have a firewall to protect from this?

Thank you in advance for all your help and advice.

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Last Post by B. Bunch
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Hi, and welcome to DaniWeb.

The laptop says it comes with airport wireless 802.11n. I have been reading reviews today on line of wireless routers, and most of them are much less expensive than the Apple Airport Base Station or Extreme Station. First, are there reliable wireless routers out there which will work just as well with the Macs without spending the money that Apple charges? If so, please recommend one.

The Airport routers are a bit overpriced, in my opinion. Your Mac should work with just about any standard wireless router. I recommend using some sort of Linksys wireless router, they tend to be fairly good quality and are much more affordable than the Apple wireless routers.

Secondly, I receive dsl internet through BellSouth, and if I understand this right, I would plug my connection line from BellSouth straight into a wireless router and then both of the computers would receive the wireless signal. Is that correct? Or would the external modem still be a part of this process?

I don't know your connection, but most likely you will still need your modem. Usually an external DSL modem like the one I have translates the high-frequency digital signal received from a phone line to a regular Ethernet cable. The Ethernet cable would then be plugged into your router.

Thirdly, my husband and I usually stay at Marriott chains -- Fairfield Inn, Courtyards, Spring Hill Suites, and I have been looking at their set-ups in the room. I have seen where a guest just plugs an Ethernet cable into the wall or into something on the desk. I have also seen a note that a guest could secure a card to plug into the computer from the main desk. Will I have any problems with taking the laptop on the road and using it in my room with any of these set-ups?

An Ethernet cable should work fine. If you have to plug in a card, you'll be outta luck. The Mac laptops sold nowadays have long abandoned PCMCIA and whatever other card types are available nowadays.

Finally, I have heard of people who drive by a house or live nearby a house with a wireless connection picking up signals on their computers. Will the router I buy have a firewall to protect from this?

It will come with a firewall, although that isn't quite the right terminology. What you're looking for is actually encryption. There will be several different types available on most routers, although beware that any kind of WEP encryption is very insecure and can often be cracked in less than a minute. WPA encryption is much more secure.

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I use my iBook G4 at hotels without a problem the airport card on any new laptop should be built in and pick up any wireless network that you are within signal range of.(so I dont think you need a mac bus station unless your trying to make your on base station in your room which you shouldnt need since almsot all hotels have a hotel wireless network you can use and alot of times it is heavily protected so only hotel users can use the network).

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Thank you for replying. I did buy a wireless router and had no trouble setting it up. I am, however, leary about whether or not it is secure. I can "see" my neighbor's wireless network with a lock icon beside it, but I cannot figure out how to make sure my network is secure. I have tried to run the AirPort setup to turn on security, but since I have no AirPort base station, it will go no further.

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Encryption won't keep your network from being seen by nearby neighbours, but it will prevent them from connecting to it if they don't know the encryption key (basically a password). If your Mac connects to your router without asking for a password, then your wireless network definitely isn't encrypted. You can configure encryption, among other things, in your router's control panel. This is usually accessed by typing your router's IP address into your browser's address bar. And if you don't know your router's IP address, go into System Preferences->Network, and select your Airport card. If you're using Mac OS X Tiger, it should be listed under the TCP/IP tab, and if you're using Leopard, you'll have to hit the 'Advanced' button first. The router's IP address usually tends to be 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 .

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Thank you very much for your help. I can't believe that the information you gave me was not in the Belkin set-up guide unless I missed that step somewhere on the set-up CD. I would appreciate it if there are other things like that which I should also make certain I have set properly in my preferences that I should be concerned about.

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