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MozillaQuest Magazine 2001 Editor's Choice Hardware Picks

Mike Angelo -- 02-20-2002 (c)


MozillaQuest Magazine looked at many computer software and hardware products during the year 2001. We told you about many of them in our stories.

Not all the computer software and hardware products we looked at in 2001 made it into our stories. Some were not good enough to write about. Some were more than good enough to write about, but we just did not have time to write about all of them.

And some computer products we looked at in 2001 were so good as to get picked as MozillaQuest Magazine Editor's Choice products.

One consideration that received much thought in our Editor's Choice selection process was multi-platform functionality. Innovation and usefulness went into our selection process. Another consideration was ease-of-installation/configuration. Ease-of-use was an important consideration too. Bang-for-the-buck also weighed into our selection process.

And the last, but not least important, consideration was that we like the product well enough to use it. Think about that. Because we cover computer products, we get to try most of them. So, perhaps the truest indication of which of all those products are the best of the best is if we actually chose to use them for our day-to-day work and play.

Drum roll please. TaDa! MozillaQuest Magazine is proud to announce its year 2001 Editor's Choice awards for PC hardware:

  • PowerLeap Renaissance/370S PC upgrade on a card
  • Belkin USB SCSI Adapter
  • Proxim Skyline 802.11b PC Card for Notebooks
  • Proxim Skyline 802.11b Wireless Broadband Gateway
  • Upgrading and Repairing PCs, from Que Publishing


PowerLeap Renaissance/370S PC Upgrade on a Card

A most interesting and innovative product we first looked at in 2001 is the PowerLeap Renaissance/370S PC upgrade on a card. Simply put, the Renaissance/370S is a complete PC on an expansion card. Just drop the Renaissance/370S into an older PC you would like to upgrade and then reconnect the power and signal cables. Voila! You are set to go.

The PowerLeap Renaissance/370S is a complete, fully integrated motherboard on a large AT expansion card without edge contacts. The card has the edge, just not the contacts. All the motherboard chips, connectors, sockets, gizmos, gadgets, widgets, and so forth are on the PowerLeap Renaissance/370S motherboard.

The particularly neat concept of the PowerLeap Renaissance/370S motherboard is that it lets you upgrade an older computer without ever having to remove the old motherboard or anything else for that matter. The old motherboard serves merely as a holder for the new PowerLeap board. That is why there are no contacts on the card's edge.

All in all, it is a pretty slick concept. If you can add an adapter card to a PC, you can do the Renaissance/370S upgrade.

The Renaissance/370S concept of upgrading or repairing a computer by dropping what essentially is a new PC into an expansion slot is interesting and innovative. More importantly, it works well. And the PowerLeap Renaissance/370S is easy to install.

The PowerLeap Renaissance/370S PC upgrade on a card gets a very well deserved MozillaQuest Magazine Editor's Choice.


Belkin USB SCSI Adapter with Termpower


The Belkin F5U115-UNV USB SCSI Adapter is a clever and handy computer accessory for connecting an external SCSI device such as an external CD-ROM or hard drive, Scanner, Zip Drive, Printer, and so forth to your computer via its Universal Serial Bus. It's easy to install.

The Belkin USB SCSI Adapter provides an easy way to add SCSI functionality to your PC. Moreover, it lets you connect an external SCSI device to a computer that does not support SCSI but does have a USB port -- such as a typical laptop or notebook computer.

On the downside, the USB 1 data transfer speed is much slower than SCSI data transfer speeds. So, you lose the native speed performance of the SCSI device by using the USB SCSI Adapter to connect it to your computer, rather than by using a standard SCSI adapter card to make the connection.

Nevertheless, where you cannot use a standard SCSI adapter card to connect an external SCSI device to your computer, you easily can connect that external SCSI device to your computer by using the Belkin USB SCSI Adapter. Or, if you just do not want the hassle of installing a SCSI adapter card inside of your computer, the USB SCSI Adapter provides a very convenient way of using an external SCSI device with your computer.

Unfortunately, Belkin does not provide Linux drivers for its USB SCSI Adapter nor could we find any third party drivers for it, yet. However, all our Linux boxes are multi-boot machines, which have Linux and Microsoft Windows boots installed on them.

Thus, we can save or copy any files we use or create while working in Linux on to a VFAT partition and then drop down to a MS Windows boot in order to burn them. On the other hand, we can use the Belkin USB SCSI Adapter to scan images onto a VFAT partition while in a Windows boot and then access those scanned image files later while in a Linux boot. That's doable, but very inconvenient.

Nevertheless the Belkin USB SCSI Adapter is very useful with Windows machines so we put it in our Editor's Choices mix even though it does not have Linux drivers.

Belkin's USB SCSI Adapter is quite handy, innovative, and easy to use and to install. It provides lots of bang for the buck. We use it. Therefore the Belkin USB SCSI Adapter gets a MozillaQuest Magazine 2001 Editor's Choice pick.


Proxim Skyline 802.11b PC Card for Notebooks & Wireless Broadband Gateway


Wireless networking is an important, interesting, innovative, and useful emerging technology. A notebook or laptop computer is not truly mobile if a wire or cable from the notebook must be plugged-in to a network or modem. Moreover, it is not always convenient, or sometimes not even practical, to run a network or modem cable to a desktop computer.

Wireless networking technology applied to notebooks and laptops makes them truly mobile. And wireless networking technology makes it possible, practical, and convenient to connect just about any desktop computer to an Ethernet LAN (local area network) and to the Internet.

Skyline 802.11b PC Card for Notebooks

A good way to add wireless networking technology to a notebook or laptop PC is to outfit it with a wireless PC Card network interface. We found the Proxim Skyline 802.11b PC Card for Notebooks an excellent choice for so adding wireless networking technology to a notebook or laptop computer.

The software and instructions for a Microsoft Windows PC installation made installing and configuring the Skyline 802.11b PC Card for Notebooks easy.

Proxim does not support the Linux operating system (OS). Nevertheless, Red Hat Linux 7.2 easily was able to detect and to configure Proxim's Skyline 802.11b PC Card for Notebooks.

Skyline 802.11b Wireless Broadband Gateway

Of course, you can set up a wireless-to-wireless network. However, it is rather likely that you will want to connect your wireless notebook or laptop computer to an existing Ethernet LAN or to the Internet. We found the Skyline 802.11b Wireless Broadband Gateway an excellent choice for bridging a wireless network connection between a wireless notebook and a hard-wired Ethernet LAN.

We put both the Skyline 802.11b PC Card and the Wireless Broadband Gateway into regular service. They both work very well. The Skyline PC Card Both is easy to use and to install with Microsoft Windows 2000 and Red Hat Linux 7.2. The Skyline Gateway is platform independent and is easy to use and to install.

Wireless networking equipment tends to be more expensive than standard wired networking equipment. However, in some instances the cost of running and connecting Ethernet cable can make installing a wired network more expensive than installing a wireless network. Moreover, you can get the best-of-both the wired and wireless worlds by using an access point, such as the Skyline Gateway, to bridge between the wired and wireless portions of a network.

Additionally, there are the convenience and increased productivity factors that must be placed on the scales. On balance, the result is that wireless networking, appropriately mixed with wired networking, can be cost-effective and can provide more bang-for-the-buck than wired networking alone provides.

At first blush, the Skyline Gateway $300 price tag seems somewhat on the high side. However, it is an access point, plus a four-port switch, plus a router, plus a cable/DSL modem and Internet gateway. If you use the Skyline Gateway for most or all of those services, it is reasonably cost-effective.

The Skyline 802.11b PC Card for Notebooks and Skyline 802.11b Wireless Broadband Gateway each get a MozillaQuest Magazine 2001 Editor's Choice pick.


Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 13th Edition, from Que Publishing


Scott Mueller's Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 13th Edition is one of the best and most comprehensive, if not the best and most comprehensive PC hardware, upgrading, and repairing book available. If there is only one book on your computer bookshelf, that book should be Scott Mueller's Upgrading and Repairing PCs, from Que Publishing.

All users from new and novice to professional and advanced ought to find Upgrading and Repairing PCs informative, helpful, and usable. However, it is not a cartoon book. It's all easily-readable and understandable (yet serious) text, tables, charts, diagrams, and photos that are directly related to the topics discussed.

Upgrading and Repairing PCs includes more than 1,500 printed pages. The bonus CD that come with it has an excellent, 90-minute, step-by-step, how-to, PC building and upgrading video -- plus lots of technical reference information and the entire text of several previous editions of Scott's book. Heck, the CD alone is more than worth the $60 price tag for the book and the CD.

Scott Mueller's Upgrading and Repairing PCs is an exceptional and important computer book. We use it. It gets a very well deserved MozillaQuest Magzine Editor's Choice.




Related Articles


Easily Add SCSI to Laptop, Notebook, & Desktop Computers

The PowerLeap Renaissance -- A Handy PC Upgrade or Repair on a Card


Getting Started with Wireless Network Technology


Red Hat Linux 7.2 Distribution Released

Triple-Boot Caldera OpenLinux, Red Hat Linux, & MS Windows for Best of Three Worlds



Copyright 2000-2002 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved


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