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Linksys router simplifies sharing over the InternetA...


Linksys router simplifies sharing over the Internet

A DSL or cable connection to the Internet is fast, always on and can be shared between two or more computers. Sharing is not automatic, though, but it can be simplified with an external piece of hardware such as the EtherFast Cable/DSL & Voice Router from Linksys.

This $200 broadband router works much like a network hub. As many as four computers can be connected, allowing multiplayer games and the sharing of resources such as files and printers. The reasons to pay more for such a router are its abilities to distribute a broadband connection among your computers and to block intruders from breaking into the network.

The four-port EtherFast Cable/DSL & Voice Router reviewed here costs a bit more than some competitors' offerings because it has an integrated phone jack, which lets you plug in an ordinary phone to make low-cost long-distance phone calls. All calls are sent over the Internet using Net2Phone service. Voice quality is adequate, and after the sign-up process, PCs don't have to be on for the long-distance feature to work.

Linksys offers other excellent routers with one, four and eight ports but without the phone jack. I prefer them for their lower price and because Net2Phone service can be obtained for free using your existing Internet connection, PC microphone and speakers. That said, model BEFN2PS4 does come with 160 minutes of free Net2Phone service.

Information: 800-546-5795 or www.linksys.com.

- Jim Buu /KRT

Receiver streams MP3s from computer to ears

It could have been those all-nighters downloading songs from Napster. Or maybe you've converted all your audio CDs to MP3 files. Either way, now there are megabytes - if not gigabytes - of music stored on your computer.

Fortunately, the folks at Rio understand that many of us like listening to music even when we're away from the computer.

In appearance, the $349 Rio Receiver looks much like any other stereo component, just smaller and a bit snappier. It plays MP3 files from a computer connected to an Ethernet network or you can use the included home networking card and connect over the existing phone cable in your home.

On the back of the Rio Receiver are clips for hooking up speakers directly. The machine also has RCA jacks for wiring it to a stereo system. The front panel is dominated by a backlit LCD that displays menus, playlists and track information. You can also control the Rio Receiver via infrared remote.

To finish setting up the PC as a streaming audio server, install the software on your computer, then tell it where to find your audio files. The software catalogs all MP3s on your hard drive and even imports RealPlayer playlists for sorting your songs by musician, genre or other categories.

The company's idea is simple: Leave the music on the PC and stream it to the Rio Receiver. Very clever.

Information: 800-468-5846 or www.riohome.com.

- Jeremy M. Van Zee/KRT

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