Intel Centrino mobile technology is a platform incorporating Intel s technologies designed specifically for mobile computing with integrated wireless LAN capability. It is intended to enhance mobile performance and extend battery life when incorporated in notebook computers. But the main thing is that a Centrino laptop combines a central processing unit (CPU) and chipset designed for mobile computing with wireless LAN functionality using the Wi-Fi standards. (You ll find more information about Wi-Fi in Chapter 8, "Entering a World Without Wires," and Appendix A, "Wireless Standards.")
Unlike many other computers that can be used with wireless networks, Centrino computers provide an integrated Intel Wi-Fi product, called Intel PRO/Wireless Network Connection. This Wi-Fi network connection works together with the other Centrino components to provide freedom and flexibility so that you can work and play at home or on the road without hunting for a phone jack or a network cable. Best of all, there s no need to plug in a special card because it s all built in.
The Intel PRO/Wireless Network Connection uses standard Wi-Fi protocols or "flavors" (which are described in detail in Appendix A). In fact, four different "flavors" of Wi-Fi are supported, depending on which Centrino computer you own or buy:
If you are deciding which mobile computer to buy, or if you are just getting started using your laptop for anywhere computing, your computer probably comes equipped with the Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection, which supports 802.11b and 802.11g.
It's also reassuring to know that Intel supports a variety of industry standard and leading third-party security solutions enabling safer notebook connectivity using Wi-Fi. Intel is also working with virtual private network (VPN) hardware and software vendors to verify security with VPNs. For more information about security and VPNs, see Part V, "Securing Your Computer and Network."
The platform provides software that enhances performance in several ways (see "The Importance of Performance" later in this chapter). This software also helps to manage Wi-Fi connectivity and to switch between access points using a system of multiple profiles (see Chapter 3, "Configuring Your Mobile Computer," for details).