By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Pure Networks has gone online with Network Magic, the company's first product intended to simplify home-network management.
Network Magic is a software application that lays on top of and manages a PC's Windows home-networking software, said Timothy Dowling, Pure Networks' president/CEO. With 8 million new home networks expected to be set up this year, and massive return rates for networking hardware still plaguing the industry, Dowling saw a need to create a way for the average person to properly manage their home network.
“Network Magic goes out and inspects the network, noting what is available. It's a layer above Windows that actually goes and correctly configures the Windows software to operate a peer-to-peer network,” he said.
Network Magic is available directly from Pure Networks as an electronic download. To give consumers a taste of the product a 14-day free trial is offered. The final price is $49.95. By the fourth quarter Dowling expects a boxed version to be selling through retail.
Network Magic can put together a network with any PC running Windows 98 or higher. This is important because most networks are comprised of a mix of older and newer computers, Dowling said.
“Most people decide to set up a network after they buy a new computer. They want to network their new PC with the older model,” he said.
To get Network Magic up and running the end user must install the software on all the networked computers. The software then goes to work by recognizing all the networks' different elements, such as printers, scanners and routers, and it builds a map of the network for the consumer to view. The map indicates whether the network is functioning properly and what peripherals are online, and it has a repair wizard to fix any problems.
The software allows anyone on the network to create a shared folder by right-clicking on a folder and choosing the shared item on the drop-down menu.
Network Magic also notes if there are any intruders on the network and notifies the consumer. The unwanted visitor can be kicked off using the Windows software, but Sherman Griffin, Pure Networks' product marketing director, said the next incarnation of the software will include a one-click function to ban the intruder. This is a particularly important function because of the dominance of Wi-Fi networks and the security danger inherent with this technology.
“Most people feel they are secure because they are in their own homes and don't realize their neighbors can sometimes have access to their network,” Griffin said.
The next version of Network Magic, expected out in July, also will allow the user to access their network from outside the home, Dowling said. An additional fee of about $5 will be charged for the remote service.
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