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Linksys Network Starter Kit

As computer prices drop and people replace systems more often you will probably find yourself having more than one computer at some point. Obviously if you have a high speed internet connection or need to share files or applications between the multiple systems then you must consider how you will network these systems together. What was once the domain of large companies and corporations has now filtered to the home user. One now can easily link their systems together using LAN (local area network) technology. While there are many high quality (and expensive) networking solutions available we will focus on the Linksys Network Starter Kit, a very low cost solution. Most importantly we will evaluate if its low cost inhibits its performance or reliability.

Setting Up:

The rear of the box features a simple diagram that breaks down the installation process and allows easy review. Installation of the PCI Ethernet cards went without trouble and upon reboot of Windows both were recognized with plug and play. A word of warning: the kit that I purchased came with a small sheet of directions for WIN98 that were not included with the user guide. Windows will attempt to install the Win95 drivers if you do not specify the correct directory on the floppy.

Since I have mentioned the user guide Id like to really know why manufacturers continue to ship their products with out of date manuals and expect the user to be able to install a component without confusion. The directions in the manual will install a NIC into a Win95 system, but since Win98 has numerous networking updates it may cause the unit not to function improperly. With Win98 in its second version and Windows 2000 around the corner I cannot understand why a manufacturer would rely on a sheet with sparse instructions to take the place of a well written manual. To make matters worse the manual is in very small type and is roughly the size of a book of checks. Im all for saving forests but this is simply not an adequate guide for someone who has never installed a networking component before.

The cabling provided with the kit is of very good quality and has thick insulation and quality connectors. This is more than can be said of the cheap cable provided by my cable modem service as well as the inferior NIC card they provided. I found the Linksys NIC card to be of better quality construction than the Farallon card I was using previously and up to par with the 3com card I had used initially with the cable modem. The 3com card was incompatible with my Abit MB and I was forced to use the inferior Farallon card for the interim.

The hub is surprisingly small and is easily obscured by 4 jewel cases stacked in front of it. The connections on the rear of the hub are well labeled and because this kit uses RJ-45 cabling and not coaxial you do not have to worry about placing the cables in any particular connector. The only connector that is important to be aware of is the uplink port that will allow you to connect more hubs to increase your capacity. I used this connector to connect my cable modem despite no instructions for this procedure in the manual (again an out of date manual).


  • 1 10BaseT 5 port hub
  • 2 10BaseT Network cards (NIC)
  • 2 15 Cables (RJ-45)
  • AC Power Adapter
  • Driver disk and user guide


After configuring Network Neighborhood I found the kit to offer exceptional value. I was able to share files between both systems and I found that I was able to access the CD-Writer in my main system from the second system. I was also able to access CD-ROMs and floppy drives from both machines. I am now able to surf the net from both computers simultaneously and share files between them easily.


  • Low Cost
  • Easy to set up
  • High quality cables provided


  • Out of date users manual
  • No information provided on cable modem hookups


The Linksys Network Starter Kit is a very good value at $50. Its high quality components and ease of hardware setup is marred only by its poor documentation. While a 100BaseT network would be considerably faster it would not be able to compete with the pricing of this unit. For most home based needs this kit will satisfy with its speed and ease of use.

Victor Oshiro
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