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Review of the Intel® AnyPoint™ Home Network
Last updated: 6/12/00

DOCUMENTATION AND WEB SITE.  The User's Guide and both installation guides are very well-written and illustrated.  Intel's AnyPoint web site is very professional and easy to navigateThe trouble-shooting section of the Guide is fairly good, but the content is mostly for the less technically-inclined reader.  The tech support section of the Web site is better and quite good for a new product, but could be improved.  Not all of the error conditions are listed.  The user guides should be available for downloading.  A discussion forum or a news group would enhance the usefulness of the site.

BOTTOM LINE.   If you are a computer techie and a do-it-yourselfer, I would consider the $189 for a 2-PC AnyPoint Home Network to be a bit steep.  The price for two network cards and a 100 ft. CAT5 crossover cable is under $70.00.  You could add an Ethernet hub and network three PCs for less than a two PC AnyPoint network.  The price for AnyPoint becomes more competitive if you don't like holes drilled through your floor or cables hanging from your ceiling, and you have to pay more (and learn more) to install RJ-45 wall jacks and network infrastructure wiring.  And if your house or apartment already has a telephone jack in about every room, you can play musical chairs with the AnyPoint network any time you want without running more wire.  Now, if 'your wife doesn't find you handy' and you must hire someone to make cables and install the network, AnyPoint's "total cost of ownership" becomes quite competitive--cheap in many locations.  The question is: are you willing to run cabling, install network cards, and endure a substantial network installation learning curve to go faster?  Many won't find AnyPoint in doing that.

NOTES.  It is easy to make the mistake of plugging the male end of the AnyPoint parallel cable into female DB25 on the AnyPoint adapter where the printer cable should go. This would leave a female connector at the other end of the cable.  A user might then connect that plug to the second serial port on his or her computer instead of the printer port and possibly damage the computer and/or adapter.

AnyPoint does not support one-way cable MODEMs.  If you attempt to install AnyPoint with a Surfboard one-way MODEM, all of the AnyPoint software, and the Surfboard software will have to be uninstalled and reinstalled before the MODEM will work again.

If you have an existing system with a Windows NT file server, AnyPoint will not work if the Windows Client is set-up to log on to a Windows NT Domain.  In fact, if you have such a system and remove all network adapters and software, AnyPoint will produce the following undocumented error message:

You must first uncheck the Windows Client Log on to Window's NT Domain before uninstalling the software.  Apparently, the setting stays in the Windows registry, but I couldn't find it.  This error message would have been more useful if it were more specific.

AnyPoint is designed to work simultaneously with other services on the same phone line.  Tests with my telephone, internal PC MODEM, standalone FAX machine show that it works as advertised.

You should instruct you browser to use an Internet connection already setup on the computer if the Installation Wizard pops-up.

AnyPoint worked fine with each of the printers (HP LaserJet II and Epson EPL-7000 laser printer) I had on the two computers I tested.

The maximum wire distance that an AnyPoint phone line network can span is 500 feet.

Two AnyPoint adapters can be networked by connecting a length of telephone wire with RJ11 plugs directly between the adapters.

AnyPoint comes with a 3-year warranty and 90 days of free 800-number tech support.

Other AnyPoint products include:

  • A PCI expansion board which implements the AnyPoint Home Network without using the parallel port or requiring a power adapter.  Use this product if you are using the parallel port on your PC for something besides a printer.  You could build a phone line network by buying two or more of these boards at $79.00 each, retail, with software.   If you don't mind installing expansion boards, this alternative would save some money, and eliminate most of the wires and the power adapter.  It would also, like an internal MODEM, reduce the number of things that can break.

  • Parallel Port Model for One PC - $99.00, retail.

I'll close by stating that no matter how well it is designed, AnyPoint is not a total panacea for all home networking situations.   In my considerable experience, any device which plugs into a parallel port and shares it with a printer will have problems with a noticeable percentage of computers and printers (and users).

Larry

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