The Absolute Minimum
The tasks you want your home network to perform help you decide which home network and which type of broadband Internet access you should choose.
Cable or DSL are the best choices for broadband Internet access because they support all business, recreational, and educational uses.
802.11g wireless network and 10/100 Ethernet are the best choices for a home network because they are fast enough to support all types of business, recreational, and educational uses.
Wi-Fi's most obvious benefit offers you the ability to network without wires, but it also supports many non-PC devices and has built-in connections to 10/100ethernet networks.
The most desirable "flavor" of Wi-Fi to use in a home network is 802.11g, which runs at 54Mbps.
HomePNA networking can be used in any room with a telephone jack, but it isn't well supported by non-PC network adapters.
HomePlug networking can be used in any room with AC electrical outlets, but it's much slower than 802.11g wireless networks.
Ethernet works well with Wi-Fi because routers often incorporate Wi-Fi WAPs and ethernet switches, and you can use bridges to connect ethernet to HomePNA or HomePlug networks.
Most PCs include ethernet ports, but other types of network adapters must be added to most PCs.
Many notebook computers built since mid-2003 include Wi-Fi adapters, but Wi-Fi is still rare on desktop computers.
ReplayTV PVRs have built-in 10/100 Ethernet networking.
TiVo Series 2 and some third-party TiVo devices support USB network adapters.
Of the major game systems, only Microsoft's Xbox has built-in networking (10/100 Ethernet).
You should calculate the total cost of your network, including broadband Internet access devices, network adapters, routers, bridges, and adapters for specialized uses.
Calculating the total cost of your network helps you plan your network budget and decide which type(s) of networks to use and where to use them.