Panasonic 11Mbps Wireless LAN PC Card - PracticallyNetworked.com Earthweb.com Practically Networked Home Earthweb developer.com HardwareCentral earthwebdeveloper CrossNodes Datamation
Welcome to PractiallyNetworked
Product Reviews

 • Routers
 • Hubs/Switches
 • Wireless Gateway
 • Wireless AP
 • Wireless NIC
 • Network Storage
 • Print Servers
 • Bluetooth Adapters
Troubleshooting
& Tutorials

 • Networking
 • Internet Sharing
 • Security
 • Backgrounders
 • Troubleshooting
    Guides

 • PracNet How To's
User Opinions
Practicallynetworked Glossary

 Find a Network Term  
 
Forums
About
Jobs
Home

  Most Popular Tutorials

• Microsoft Vista Home Networking Setup and Options
The most daunting part of upgrading to Windows Vista may be trying to figure out where in the layers of menus the networking and file-sharing options are hidden.

• Do It Yourself: Roll Your Own Network Cables
It may not be something you do everyday, but having the supplies and know-how to whip up a network cable on the spot can be very handy.

• Tips for Securing Your Home Router
Seemingly minor and easily overlooked settings can still have profound security implications. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your wired or wireless home router — and by extension, your network — is as secure as possible.

  Most Popular Reviews

• Microsoft Windows Home Server
If you have a home network, you'll welcome the easy file sharing, remote access and the image-based backup features of Windows Home Server.

• Iomega StorCenter Network Hard Drive
Iomega's fourth generation StorCenter Network Hard Drive brings many of the features found in higher-end storage devices down to an attractive price.

• MikroTik's The Dude
This free tool delivers many of the same capabilities that you'd find in pricey network monitoring tools. As long as you don't mind tinkering, The Dude is a decent network utility that should be worth the download.


 Panasonic 11Mbps Wireless LAN PC Card

Page 1 

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 7/8/2001


Model: KX-HGC200

Pros:

- Can improve wireless multimedia (streaming) performance

 
Cons :

- Expensive compared to 802.11b cards
- You see improved multimedia performance only in peer-to-peer, multiple client networks

 


 

The Basics

 
Indicators
  • Link

  • Ready

Comes with
  • software CD

Other
  • Not compatible with 802.11b or HomeRF

 

Introduction


Panasonic is the first company to field an 11Mbps wireless networking product using Sharewave's Whitecap1 protocol.  Whitecap's claim-to-fame is improved wireless multimedia performance, but I had a mixed experience with the technology.  Read on for the full report.

 

What is Whitecap™?


Put simply, Whitecap is a wireless networking protocol that is optimized for wireless home networking.  To Sharewave this means three key things:

  • the ability to handle multiple multimedia application streams

  • easy network configuration

  • strong resistance to microwave oven and 2.4GHz cordless phone interference

The price you pay for these improvements is incompatibility with 802.11b/WiFi equipment, i.e. Whitecap and 802.11b clients can't communicate with each other.  Perhaps realizing the barrier to market share that this incompatibility presents, Sharewave announced the Whitecap2 protocol a few months ago.  This version of the protocol will be compatible with 802.11b, but won't support on-the-fly switching between the two.

But Whitecap1 is what's available now, with Panasonic being the only vendor shipping Whitecap based products in their Home Networking line, which consists of the PC Card and the Concourse Broadband Networking Gateway which we previously reviewed.  Sharewave says, however, that other vendors will be shipping Whitecap based products shortly.

With all that competitive situation stuff out of the way, let's take a look at the product!

 

Setting Up


Panasonic's Whitecap client card comes in only the PC Card flavor, so it's best suited for wirelessly connecting laptops.  Panasonic doesn't offer either a PCI adapter or USB version for adding desktop computers to a Whitecap network, (but NETGEAR just announced a Whitecap based PCI card and Bridge).  Of course you can get your Ethernet or HPNA network members talking to the HGC200 via the Broadband Gateway, but this puts a crimp in the multimedia handling improvements of the Whitecap based system (more on this later..).

Adding the card to the Panasonic Gateway is easy, you just power off the Gateway, plug in the card, and plug the Gateway back in.  When you do, you'll see the new "Wireless Setup" admin menu item.

Panasonic KX-HGW200 - Wireless Setup screen

Adding the card to my Win98SE equipped laptop (Win95, ME, and 2000 drivers were also on the CD) was straightforward.  Windows detected the card, loaded the driver and prompted for a network name.  On reboot, the installer for the Network Manager was automatically started.  The Network Manager lets you both manage settings for the PC card itself, and view the state of the Whitecap network. There aren't a lot of settings to fiddle with and the Device Management app handles them in a straightforward way, as shown in the screen shots below.

Panasonic Whitecap card - Device Mgmt Config screen  Panasonic Whitecap card - Device Mgmt Properties screen

 

 

Network utilities


The Network Management application is a little more complicated.  It's a Java-based application that installs and runs a small webserver and uses Internet Explorer for its display.  With it, you can see the nodes in the Whitecap network and their link quality, look at link packet statistics, bandwidth allocation, and switch into a mode that lets you add new network members.

Panasonic Whitecap card - Node Information screen   Panasonic Whitecap card - Link Information screen

Maybe it's just me, but there were a number of things that bugged me about the Network Manager.  First, the installer makes a couple of Registry entries so that the Network Manager and associated applications launch automatically at startup.  This made it harder to make them not auto-start than just moving shortcuts from the Startup folder (I used Win98SE's System Configuration Utility Startup tab).  Second, the use of thin colored lines to indicate link quality made the Node Information next to useless for me, since I'm partly color blind and I couldn't tell the difference between the thin green and yellow lines.  I would have much preferred some sort of numerical or text indication.  I'd also add the Node quality information to the System Tray icon, which presently just tells you only whether you're linked or not.  Finally, I'd make the app not require IE and a mini-webserver to run...just seems like too many things to go wrong!  (My laptop locked up a number of times when left running the Network Manager and I suspect it may have been due to conflicts with Windows power management.)

But how did it perform?  Is the price of 802.11b incompatibility worth it? 

  • Page 2

  •  Add YOUR Opinion  

     Opinion Summary:     66.7%   |   33.3%  |   out of 6 reviews  
     Read Reviews by Users  

    Print this Page 



    Earthwebnews.com Earthweb developer.com HardwareCentral earthwebdeveloper CrossNodes Datamation


    Home | Networking | Backgrounders | Internet Sharing | Security | HowTo | Troubleshooting | Reviews | News | About | Jobs | Tools | Forums