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Mini-PCI slot wireless card?

 
 
MS
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      07-24-2004
I just realized, in looking at the manual, that my NEC Versa Daylite
Notebook Computer has a mini-PCI slot. I have never used such a slot before,
don't know much about it.

I see on the net, however that there are mini-PCI wireless cards. This
notebook did not come with built-in wi-fi, although it has a built-in wired
NIC. In fact, recently I purchased a PC card wi-fi card for it.

I believe the PC card I purchased is still within the return period,
however, so if the mini-PCI card is a better option, perhaps I should get
one of those and return the PC card.

For instance, following is the URL for one of the mini-PCI wireless cards I
found on the net:

http://www.mpcparts.com/skuinfo.asp?sku=280065

The part name is:

Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG Centrino Mini PCI card

I wonder about the word "Centrino" in it. Does that mean that such a card
would only work with a notebook that has the CPU called "Centrino"? (My CPU
is Pentium 4M.)

(If the Centrino part is a problem, there are also other mini-PCI wireless
cards without the word "Centrino".)

Should such a card work on any notebook that has a mini-PCI card slot?

If it would work, it looks more convenient to me than the PC card, as it is
fully inside the computer, like those that have wireless capability
built-in. The PC card types stick out of the computer, the part sticking out
acting as an antenna. I guess the internal type, like the mini-PCI card,
must have an internal antenna. Does that work as well? Any disadvantages to
the internal, mini-PCI card wi-fi card, as compared with PC card or USB
external cards?

I only end up sticking the PC card in when I am going to use it, as it
sticks out, and also I figure must be a drain to the battery. But then I
have to remember to take it with me, in case I have an opportunity to use
wireless. Might be more convenient to have the capability built-in, ready
all the time. Is the internal kind also a battery drain? (I guess one could
disable it in Control Panel when not using it.)

I would appreciate any input into this soon, as I think I only have a few
days left in which I could return the PC card.

What other peripherals are available in mini-PCI format? I saw a dial-up
modem-NIC combination, but I already have those built into the notebook? Are
there any other good kinds of peripherals I might consider for that slot
instead? Sound cards that are better than the built-in notebook sound cards?
Or??

Thanks in advance to anyone who has some feedback on this issue.


 
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Michael Geary
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Posts: n/a
 
      07-24-2004
> I just realized, in looking at the manual, that my NEC Versa
> Daylite Notebook Computer has a mini-PCI slot. I have never
> used such a slot before, don't know much about it.
>
> I see on the net, however that there are mini-PCI wireless cards.
> This notebook did not come with built-in wi-fi, although it has
> a built-in wired NIC. In fact, recently I purchased a PC card
> wi-fi card for it.
>
> I believe the PC card I purchased is still within the return period,
> however, so if the mini-PCI card is a better option, perhaps I
> should get one of those and return the PC card.


There are three questions you need to find out the answers to:

1) Is your notebook "wireless ready", that is, does it have wireless
antennas installed?

2) Is the mini-PCI slot open, or is it already occupied by another device
such as the "built-in" Ethernet or modem?

3) Does the NEC's BIOS allow you to use wireless cards other than the ones
that NEC supplies? Some notebook manufacturers have started to restrict the
use of wireless cards other than the ones they provide, presumably so that
they can certify that the entire system meets Part 15 FCC requirements.

You can answer the first two questions by removing the panel that covers the
mini-PCI slot and taking a look. There should be two cables with tiny round
connectors on the end. A mini-PCI card is about 2" by 2.3", with an edge
connector on one of the longer edges.

For the third question, you would have to ask NEC or someone who has
experience with these machines.

> For instance, following is the URL for one of the mini-PCI wireless cards

I
> found on the net:
>
> http://www.mpcparts.com/skuinfo.asp?sku=280065
>
> The part name is:
>
> Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG Centrino Mini PCI card
>
> I wonder about the word "Centrino" in it. Does that mean that such a card
> would only work with a notebook that has the CPU called "Centrino"? (My

CPU
> is Pentium 4M.)
>
> (If the Centrino part is a problem, there are also other mini-PCI wireless


> cards without the word "Centrino".)
>
> Should such a card work on any notebook that has a mini-PCI card slot?


Yes, as long as the machine meets the other requirements above. Centrino is
an Intel marketing name that refers to a machine that has their mini-PCI
wireless, a Pentium M processor, and a specific system chipset.

> If it would work, it looks more convenient to me than the PC card, as it

is
> fully inside the computer, like those that have wireless capability
> built-in. The PC card types stick out of the computer, the part sticking

out
> acting as an antenna. I guess the internal type, like the mini-PCI card,
> must have an internal antenna. Does that work as well? Any disadvantages

to
> the internal, mini-PCI card wi-fi card, as compared with PC card or USB
> external cards?


Generally, mini-PCI cards work better because they have better antennas,
typically two antennas in the LCD housing instead of the single antenna
found on a PC Card. And they are certainly more convenient too.

Depending on the specific card, there may be a utility that lets you turn
the radio on and off without having to disable and enable the card in Device
Manager. (It's quicker to turn the radio on or off.)

-Mike


-Mike


 
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Andrew
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Posts: n/a
 
      07-25-2004
Mike pretty much nailed it - do what he says. I'll add that I
installed a mini-PCI WiFi card in my Toshiba and am glad I went that
way. In my case, the laptop does not have USB 2.0 so I occasionally
need to plug USB2.0 card in one of the PC Card slots. If I had the
external WiFi card, I'm not sure the two would both fit at the same
time. In any case, it is nice not to have something else sticking out
the side of the computer.

Installing the mini-PCI card was easy in my instance: one screw to
expose the slot, and the Agere card I bought (I think it's Toshiba's
OEM card) works great. It took me about 15 minutes to install but
only because I was being extremely careful in installing the antenna.

Andrew
--
----> Portland, Oregon, USA <----
************************************************** *****************
----> http://www.bizave.com <---- Photo Albums and Portland Info
----> To Email me remove "MYSHOES" from email address
************************************************** *****************

 
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MS
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-25-2004

"Michael Geary" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> There are three questions you need to find out the answers to:
>
> 1) Is your notebook "wireless ready", that is, does it have wireless
> antennas installed?


I don't know. I don't recall seeing any designation to that effect,
"wireless ready", in any flyer, or on the unit itself, or in the manual.

Don't the wireless antennas come with the wireless card?

> 2) Is the mini-PCI slot open, or is it already occupied by another device
> such as the "built-in" Ethernet or modem?


I haven't yet opened it, but the manual has a section about how to install a
device into the mini-PCI slot. If that were already occupied by one of the
built-in devices, I don't think that section woudl be there, they probably
would not mention the slot.

In the picture of the bottom of the laptop, in the manual, with the
descriptin of the various ports, etc., it lists "Mini PCI Module
Bay---Contains a socket for the installation of an optional Mini PCI module
(when available)".

That doesn't say much. What do they mean by "when available"? I looked on
the NEC web site, and couldn't find any info on it. I called tech support,
and the message said no support on the weekend. I'll probably try again
Monday, but quite likely I'll wait a long time, and finally speak to someone
who knows nothing about it. (Seems to be a common occurrence with "tech
support" these days. Someone in India or China answers the phone, getting
paid 10 cents an hour, they don't understand you, and know nothing about the
product.)

That "when available" statement sounds like they were planinng to make an
accessory (like a wireless card?) that could go into that slot, but perhaps
they never did. I don't see anything like that on the site. (And the model
has been discontinued.) (Versa E120 Daylite)

As I asked in the original post, are there other kinds of peripherals that
could go in a mini-PCI slot? Or only--modems, LAN, or Wireless LAN?


>
> 3) Does the NEC's BIOS allow you to use wireless cards other than the ones
> that NEC supplies? Some notebook manufacturers have started to restrict

the
> use of wireless cards other than the ones they provide, presumably so that
> they can certify that the entire system meets Part 15 FCC requirements.
>
> You can answer the first two questions by removing the panel that covers

the
> mini-PCI slot and taking a look. There should be two cables with tiny

round
> connectors on the end. A mini-PCI card is about 2" by 2.3", with an edge
> connector on one of the longer edges.
>
> For the third question, you would have to ask NEC or someone who has
> experience with these machines.
>
> > For instance, following is the URL for one of the mini-PCI wireless

cards
> I
> > found on the net:
> >
> > http://www.mpcparts.com/skuinfo.asp?sku=280065
> >
> > The part name is:
> >
> > Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG Centrino Mini PCI card
> >
> > I wonder about the word "Centrino" in it. Does that mean that such a

card
> > would only work with a notebook that has the CPU called "Centrino"? (My

> CPU
> > is Pentium 4M.)
> >
> > (If the Centrino part is a problem, there are also other mini-PCI

wireless
>
> > cards without the word "Centrino".)
> >
> > Should such a card work on any notebook that has a mini-PCI card slot?

>
> Yes, as long as the machine meets the other requirements above. Centrino

is
> an Intel marketing name that refers to a machine that has their mini-PCI
> wireless, a Pentium M processor, and a specific system chipset.
>
> > If it would work, it looks more convenient to me than the PC card, as it

> is
> > fully inside the computer, like those that have wireless capability
> > built-in. The PC card types stick out of the computer, the part sticking

> out
> > acting as an antenna. I guess the internal type, like the mini-PCI card,
> > must have an internal antenna. Does that work as well? Any disadvantages

> to
> > the internal, mini-PCI card wi-fi card, as compared with PC card or USB
> > external cards?

>
> Generally, mini-PCI cards work better because they have better antennas,
> typically two antennas in the LCD housing instead of the single antenna
> found on a PC Card. And they are certainly more convenient too.
>
> Depending on the specific card, there may be a utility that lets you turn
> the radio on and off without having to disable and enable the card in

Device
> Manager. (It's quicker to turn the radio on or off.)
>
> -Mike
>
>
> -Mike
>
>



 
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Andrew
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-25-2004
In comp.sys.laptops MS <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
: "Michael Geary" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
: news:(E-Mail Removed)...
: > There are three questions you need to find out the answers to:
: >
: > 1) Is your notebook "wireless ready", that is, does it have wireless
: > antennas installed?

: I don't know. I don't recall seeing any designation to that effect,
: "wireless ready", in any flyer, or on the unit itself, or in the manual.

: Don't the wireless antennas come with the wireless card?

No - with an internal mini-PCI WiFi card, the antenna is inside the
laptop. You have to connect up the antennas to the card. This is the
hardest part of the installation.

If your laptop doesn't have the antenna wires already installed for
a mini-PCI WiFi card, I wouldn't bother trying to install one.

Andrew
--
----> Portland, Oregon, USA <----
************************************************** *****************
----> http://www.bizave.com <---- Photo Albums and Portland Info
----> To Email me remove "MYSHOES" from email address
************************************************** *****************

 
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Michael Geary
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-26-2004
> Don't the wireless antennas come with the wireless card?

No, the antennas are installed in the notebook at the factory.

> I haven't yet opened it, but the manual has a section about how to install

a
> device into the mini-PCI slot. If that were already occupied by one of the
> built-in devices, I don't think that section woudl be there, they probably
> would not mention the slot.


Best not to assume anything. I don't know about the NEC, but on a
ThinkPad, there's just one door to remove on the bottom of the machine, and
then you can see the mini-PCI socket and the antenna cables. That's a sure
way to tell if the machine is "wireless ready".

But even if it's "wireless ready", no promises about a third-party card
working. For example, my (relatively) old ThinkPad A30p will work with any
mini-PCI wireless card, but the newer ThinkPads only allow you to use cards
that IBM provides.

> As I asked in the original post, are there other kinds of peripherals that
> could go in a mini-PCI slot? Or only--modems, LAN, or Wireless LAN?


Mostly modems and networking. I haven't seen any other types of mini-PCI
cards, but that's not to say there aren't any.

-Mike


 
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MS
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-26-2004
"Michael Geary" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> > Don't the wireless antennas come with the wireless card?

>
> No, the antennas are installed in the notebook at the factory.


What do they look like? Wires inside the card slot?

Since there was no notation of "wireless ready", or any mention of putting a
wireless card there, I suspect not. But I'll take a look.

No way to get the antennas with the card? They have to be pre-installed in
the computer?

> Mostly modems and networking. I haven't seen any other types of mini-PCI
> cards, but that's not to say there aren't any.


Then, if the notebook is not "wireless ready", I wonder why they even
include an empty, user-installable mini-PCI card slot, mentioned in the
manual. The computer already has a built-in modem and LAN. If the slot is
only for modems and networking, and wired versions are already built into
the computer, one would think that the mini-PCI slot would be for a wireless
LAN. But then, one would think it would be advertised as "wireless ready",
and the possibility of a wireless card being installed there would be
mentioned, etc.

I'll take a look inside, and perhaps contact NEC about it as well. I am
thinking it was perhaps an oversight, that maybe they originally planned to
make the notebook "wireless ready", included the slot, but changed their
mind later and didn't include the antennas.


 
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Michael Geary
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-26-2004
> > > Don't the wireless antennas come with the wireless card?
> >
> > No, the antennas are installed in the notebook at the factory.

>
> What do they look like? Wires inside the card slot?


You won't see the antennas themselves, only the antenna cables: Typically
two thin round cables with small round connectors at the ends, at a right
angle to the cable.

> No way to get the antennas with the card? They have to be
> pre-installed in the computer?


The cables run to another part of the computer, typically up inside the LCD
housing. If they aren't there, you'd have to take the whole computer apart
to install them, and they are different for each computer.

> > Mostly modems and networking. I haven't seen any other types
> > of mini-PCI cards, but that's not to say there aren't any.

>
> Then, if the notebook is not "wireless ready", I wonder why they
> even include an empty, user-installable mini-PCI card slot,
> mentioned in the manual. The computer already has a built-in
> modem and LAN. If the slot is only for modems and networking,
> and wired versions are already built into the computer, one would
> think that the mini-PCI slot would be for a wireless LAN. But then,
> one would think it would be advertised as "wireless ready", and the
> possibility of a wireless card being installed there would be
> mentioned, etc.


Imagine that you are a manufacturer building two models of the same notebook
computer, one with wireless and one without. For whatever reason, you have
chosen not to preinstall the wireless antennas in the non-wireless model
(cost, perhaps). Now, do you design, build, test, and inventory one system
board for the two models, or two different ones? True, you'd save a few more
cents by not including the mini-PCI slot on the non-wireless model, but that
saving would be overwhelmed by the cost of having to support two different
system boards.

Also, mini-PCI slots are used for other network devices and modems, not just
wireless. It's possible that your "built-in" network or modem actually
occupy the mini-PCI slot.

-Mike


 
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