For infrared (IR) equipped notebooks and handhelds that need access to the corporate LAN, Clarinet Systems' EthIR LAN product is perfect for cutting out the cable. Although the throughput is slower than 10Base-T Ethernet, the price—about $200 per port—is high, but competitive with other wired and wireless solutions.
The EthIR LAN is a multipiece setup that starts with a 10/100Mbit Ethernet switch with 8, 16 or 24 device ports. The switch can be configured for dedicated IR-only use, a pass-through mode usable by any 10Base-T or 100Base-T Ethernet device, or a dual mode for using IR and Ethernet devices.
A small, infrared transceiver called the EthIR Beam is in cluded for each port. The Beam, which physically connects to the switch using standard Cat-5 wiring, provides a 4Mbit pathway to the network for any IR-equipped device. EthIR LAN includes Windows 95/98 drivers, and is also usable by CE devices and—in theory—Windows 2000.
The product was simple to use. The switch went to the wiring closet, and the Beams were connected using standard UTP wiring. Once the clients were configured, the portable notebooks and CE clients connected to the network when placed in a line-of-sight, 1-meter distance of the Beam. Other than the slower speed (115Kbps to 4Mbps), the link appeared like a standard Ethernet connection.
At $1,600, you'll pay for the EthIR LAN's wire-free convenience. However, since it is up gradable to the upcoming 14Mbit IR standard, it won't be obsolete anytime soon. While not for every application, EthIR LAN can be just the network-access solution your customers need for a group conference table or drop-in lab.
EthIR LAN ES208
Clarinet Systems Inc.