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Book Review - Anywhere Computing with Laptops by Harold Davis

Category Book Reviews

It used to be that buying a laptop meant you gave up a lot in terms of power and features.  Now you don't give up much (if anything), and gain a lot in the process.  If you're new to the laptop game, getting a copy of Anywhere Computing with Laptops - Making Mobile Easier by Harold Davis might help you exploit your new toy a bit more...

Part 1 - Mobile Computing Quick Start: Understanding Intel Centrino Mobile Technology; Buying a Mobile Computer; Configuring Your Mobile Computer
Part 2 - Getting the Most From Your Mobile Computer: Software That Makes the Most of Mobile Computing; Taking Digital Pictures from Your Laptop; Using Your Mobile Computer As a Telephone; Let Your Laptop Entertain You - Streaming Media, Gaming, and More
Part 3 - Mobile Computing On The Road: Entering a World Without Wires; Finding Hotspots; Working with National Wi-Fi Networks
Part 4 - Your Own Wireless Network: Networking Without Wires; Buying a Wi-Fi Access Point or Router; Setting Up Your Access Point; Configuring Your Wi-Fi Network; Advanced Access Point Configuration; Adding Wi-Fi Antennas to Your Network
Part 5 - Securing Your Computer and Network: Protecting Your Mobile Wi-Fi Computer; Securing Your Wi-Fi Network
Part 6 - Appendixes: Wireless Standards; Where the Hotspots Are; Intel Centrino Mobile Technology Platform; Glossary; Index

Given the right audience, this book is pretty good.  It caters to the person who is a first-time laptop buyer (or owner) and doesn't quite understand the things necessary to start connecting to the internet sans cat-5 cable or modem.  Davis does a good job showing how a laptop with Intel Centrino technology and Windows XP can connect to hotspots and allow you to access the 'net anywhere.  Some of the material (like gaming, streaming media, internet telephony) isn't solely the domain of laptops, but it's worth covering to let the newbie know that everything they do on their desktop machine can also be done on their laptop.

The only thing I found a little annoying after awhile was the constant reference to "Intel Centrino".  He's making the assumption that you have Centrino technology, so information on wireless cards and such is pretty light.  Since wi-fi is built-in with Centrino, there's not much need to cover wi-fi cards.  From the perspective of focus, it's an OK decision to do so.  But Centrino is pushed really hard, and I almost felt like the book should have been sent to me from Intel, not Que.  The newbie might think that if it's not a Centrino processor, it's no good.  In reality, it's all a matter of trade-offs.  I just bought a new laptop, and I don't spend hours on the road or in planes.  Therefore, battery life (a Centrino plus) isn't that important.  CPU processor power is, so I got a Pentium 4 3.33 GHz.  Reading this book, it'd almost appear that I made a mistake, when it's really just a matter of what's important to the user.

So... if you're a new laptop user or owner who is using Windows XP and a Centrino processor, this book was written for you.  If you've been around laptops for awhile, you'll probably already know most of the material...

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Thomas "Duffbert" Duff

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