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AVIATOR Webgear, parallel version - review

I was thinking of adding another computer to my home LAN, but I didn't want to mess with running the ethernet cable. So, I looked into alternatives. COMPUSA has several products - one worked thru phone line, another - thru electric outlets (!) and finally there was Aviator kit - it was wireless and connected to parallel ports. Thinking that this is the least hassle, I paid $80 an took it home.

Software installation was pain in the neck. First, I copied installation floppies to hard drive, thinking that I could run setup from there. It GPFed. I rebooted and tried gain - one more GPF. So, I resigned to my fate and installed from floppies. This worked, though it took me several tries anyway. At one point computer rebooted unexpectedly and Windows refused to come back up, saying "Error loading device AVIATOR - restart the System". We were able to fix it by going to safe mode and deleting the Aviator from Device Manager.

Anyway, eventually we got the software installed. We ran the diags and noticed that it shows pretty high levels of interference. Also, sometimes computers would see each other and sometimes they wouldn't. Note that one of the station was in my room, while another - in the basement. There was fair distance between them, but well within the advertised 125 ft.

Finally, we decided to try this - we brought both machines to one room and hooked them up, so that the distance between Aviator transmitter and receiver were no more than 4 feet. At this point computers saw each other and were able to share Internet connection. However, the speed was simply abysmal - while the main station had ADSL connection, capable of downloading ar 100k/sec, the best we could get out of client machine was 12k/sec (note - the Aviator box promises speed "up to 1 mbps").

Conclusion - this is interesting concept and priced ok, but software is buggy and speed is pitiful. As far as I am concerned, it's going back to COMPUSA shelf.

All about WebTV

Frankly, I am surprised that
WebTV doesn't have many more users. One reason could be the ineptness of stores that sell it - you see WebTV unit on the shelf, it may even be hooked up to the TV, but I never seen once actually connected to the Internet.

I am selling my WebTV - but only because I managed to connect my real computer to the TV. I've had two wonderful years with WebTV - let me tell you what makes it great.

  • Interface. It's downright beautiful - the icons, fonts and layouts are superb. Furthermore, it's truly user friendly. I like Windows a lot, but it comes nowhere near WebTV as far as user-friendliness is concerned.

  • Speed. The unit itself is incredibly responsive - must be due to very efficient operating system. What's even more surprising, webpages load pretty fast - I'd never believe if somebody told me that WebTV Classic has merely 28.8 modem (note - later models come with 56K modem and I've heard of units that will be integrated with cable modem).

  • Control. When I first heard about surfing the web with remote control, I thought that idea was ridicilous. However, once I tried it, I was thoroughly impressed - following links and scrolling is extremely convenient with a remote. I also bought a wireless keyboard, so I can type a URL or password if there's a need.

  • Ease of use. Again, Windows came a long way since the cryptic 'packet drivers' of DOS and since mind-boggling complexity of internet setup in OS/2. But again, WebTV beats Windows hands own. You connect the unit to the outlet and phone line, it dials toll-free number to find out the local access dialup for you - and within minutes you are ready to surf!

  • Graphics. TV screen is wonderful for graphics. If you frequent the sites with JPGs, take my word for it - it's far better to lay on the couch and look at WebTV than it is to sit in the chair and stare at the monitor.

Well, that about wraps it up. I guess to be totally honest, I'll have to tell you about a single gripe I have with WebTV - I strongly suspect that my email address was sold. Even though I never used my webtv email at newsgroups or webpages, my mailbox is flooded with spam. I can't think of any other explanation - they must have sold my address.

Well with this out the way, let me reiterate - WebTV is great!!! Never mind if you have 4 real computers at your house (I do), there's a room for WebTV too. It costs little and will bring you endless hours of joy.

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