Proxim Symphony Suite review:

Proxim Symphony Suite

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MSRP: $119.00
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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Easy to set up and speedy.

The Bad The most expensive do-it-yourself wireless network we've seen.

The Bottom Line If money is no object, this solution will save you headaches.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.0 Overall

Although Proxim's Symphony home-networking suite is one of the most expensive kits here, we think it's worth it. You'll pay $298 for a two-PC network; if you want the fastest Internet sharing, you'll have to shell out an additional $299 for Symphony's cordless modem. Other products, such as the $199 Diamond HomeFree and the $169 WebGear Aviator, are dramatically cheaper for a basic setup using the same type of wireless technology (radio frequency). Although Proxim's Symphony home-networking suite is one of the most expensive kits here, we think it's worth it. You'll pay $298 for a two-PC network; if you want the fastest Internet sharing, you'll have to shell out an additional $299 for Symphony's cordless modem. Other products, such as the $199 Diamond HomeFree and the $169 WebGear Aviator, are dramatically cheaper for a basic setup using the same type of wireless technology (radio frequency).

Performance and pluses offset price
But the Proxim's got a long list of pluses to offset its price negative. The Symphony network's performance was outstanding, bested only by Tut Systems' HomeRun. If you spring for the optional modem, shared Internet access is significantly faster. In our tests, it topped the proxy-server and software-router solutions included with the Aviator, HomeFree, and PassPort kits. We should note that with the Symphony's included modem-sharing software, you can use a modem other than Proxim's, which will save you some cash. But routing Internet access through the software will make performance less impressive. The range for this kit is also excellent, letting you place computers up to 150 feet apart, as is the case with the Diamond kit.

Easy installation
As if that weren't enough, the installation was completely painless, although you do have to deal with specialized ISA cards. Unlike the WebGear and HomeFree solutions, where the wireless antennae are integrated into the card you install in your system, each Symphony antenna is attached to its ISA card via a 6-foot cord. The generous cord length allows you to easily move the antenna around to to improve reception. We also liked the Symphony's included Maestro software, which contains useful troubleshooting and diagnostics software, as well as network-management utilities.

The Proxim Symphony is undeniably expensive. But it's also better designed than any other kit we reviewed. If you don't have the cash to spare but are desperate for a wireless solution, check out Diamond's HomeFree.

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