The next factor to consider in designing your WLAN is to determine how many devices you want to connect wirelessly. You may want to connect everything right off the bat or start out with a few devices and expand as your budget allows. Or you may be adding a few wireless elements to an existing Ethernet network. Almost every computing device can connect wirelessly: some models are Wi-Fi-ready right out of the box, others require the addition of a wireless adapter or network interface card (NIC).
How many computers do you have? Do you want all of these on the network? You can share resources and files between every PC on your WLAN, and each PC can have access to shared devices. Networked PCs also can share the same Internet connection. The number of PCs on your network and their location affect the amount of Wi-Fi hardware you need to purchase.
Note: Some handy network terms for you to know are server, workstation, and client. A server is a computer on a network that provides services to other computers on the network. Most home networks do not have, or need, servers because other PCs and network devices (routers, hubs, and so on) provide the services that a server would normally host
A PC on the network is a workstation, or client computer. Other network-aware devices, including game consoles, cameras, PDAs, and printers also are clients. The term client automatically implies that a PC or device is connected to a network.
How many printers do you have, and which of them is available on the network? You can make each networked printer available to all the PCs on the WLAN, which is cost effective as well as convenient. You can attach a printer to a specific computer or share it via a Wi-Fi print server. (If you have a high volume of print jobs, consider using a print server; otherwise the computer sharing the printer may slow down while other PCs are using its printer.)
If you have any wireless-ready, or wireless-capable entertainment devices, decide if you will include them on your network. Some, home entertainment devices are Wi-Fi-ready, and others can connect after the addition of a wireless adapter. An example of this is a game console. You can connect all of the major game consoles (Xbox, PlayStation, and Game Cube) to a WLAN with an adapter. There also are stereo and video components that can connect wirelessly to enable sharing of video and audio files.
If you have a PDA, you may be able to connect to your WLAN to synchronize your files, send e-mail, print, and surf the Web. Some PDAs are Wi-Fi-ready, while others require the addition of a card or adapter. Others may have Bluetooth connectivity built in, requiring you to purchase an adapter to wirelessly connect them to a PC. Research your options and the required hardware for connecting with your PDA.
If you have a broadband Internet connection, how will you share it? There are wireless routers available that you can use to share a cable or DSL connection, or you may have to connect a Wi-Fi access point to an Ethernet port on your existing router.