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Network Interface Cards
A network card is an adapter card that physically connects your computer to a network cable. This items is necessary if you are going to be using a DSL or Cable modem for Internet access -- most Cheap Computers, laptops & netbooks will already have one installed or built-in to the motherboard.
Aside from Internet access, a network card is also required in networking computers together in your home, or to share devices, such as scanners, printers, etc.
Recommendations: 10/100 Mbps Network Card from D-Link, Linksys, Intel or 3 Com.
High Speed Internet Connections
A network card, also sometimes referred to as an Ethernet card or NIC card, appears slightly similar to a modem. However, it cannot connect using a dialup phone line. Unlike connecting to the Internet with a dialup 56k modem, which uses a standard phone cord, network cards connect to your DSL or Cable modem using a network cable, which is about twice as thick as your phone line.
Your network card goes inside your computer and connects directly to either your DSL or Cable modem, which then connects either to your DSL-enabled phone jack or your Cable wall-jack. Those types of modems will usually be supplied to you by your ISP, although you can certainly buy one of your own.
Home / Small Office Networking
If you are going to network computers together in your home or at your small office, then each computer will need its own network card and you'll also need a router.
A router is a network device that routes or changes an IP address to another address. The incoming connection cable from the Internet will connect directly to the router, and from there you can connect one or more computers to the Internet sharing the same Internet connection.
Any printer, scanner, fax machine, zip drive or other external device which is set to be shared can be used by any computer in this local area network, or LAN. You'll need to refer to your operating system's instructions on how to network (typically Windows XP).
Routers and network cards are both inexpensive items that typically cost under $25 each, so creating a home network is rather cheap.
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