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Networking Stars At Digital Home Exhibit

New York — The Digital Home exhibit held here on the eve of PC Expo played host to several advancements in home networking.

Among them was one of the first high-speed wireless networks for the home using the IEEE 802.11b from Lucent. Lucent will begin shipping in July its new high-speed, wireless ORiNOCO Home Networking System, which enables 11Mbit/second (Mbps) wireless networking through floors and walls at a range of up to 1,500 feet.

Operating in the 2.4GHz band, ORiNOCO will work with any other 802.11b products, including the Apple AirPort. The system includes an ORiNOCO PC card at a suggested retail price of $179; a PCI and an ISA adapter, each at $69; and the RG-1000 Residential Gateway (with built-in 56K modem) at $349.

The Residential Gateway can be plugged into a phone line and a 10baseT Ethernet jack for connection to an existing wired Ethernet network or an xDSL or cable modem. The complete Starter Kit with one card and one Residential Gateway is $449.

Also of note at Digital Home was a new “always on” Gateway from 3Com that allows both Ethernet and phone-line networking. Called the 3Com HomeConnect Home Network Gateway, the unit is one of the first “always on” dedicated home network devices with built-in security for protection from hackers.

The HomeConnect Gateway works with any high-speed broadband connection, as well as 56K. It supports Fast Ethernet (up to 100Mbps) or phone-line networking (up to 10Mbps).

3Com claims that the Gateway is the first to serve as a bridge between the two type of networks, allowing a hybrid home network. The HomeConnect Home Network Gateway is expected to ship this month at an estimated street price of $249.

Also at Digital Home was a new shopping service from Vistify that allows instant online ordering “as you go.” The company showed a prototype touchscreen monitor that is designed to sit on a kitchen counter. Users simply tap the appropriate icons on the screen whenever they remember a grocery item they need to order.

Vistify has designed a back-end ordering system that allows this type of “Point-of-Thought” e-commerce and is offering an appliance/service package to manufacturers and service providers. The system will be test-marketed this fall, and the touchscreen monitor is expected to sell at $99 or below, according to Vistify.