Networking Guide : Network Components

Network Adapter

Network adapter works as an interface between a computer or device and a network. You may need Ethernet, Wi-Fi, HomePNA, or HomePlug network adapter depending on the type of network your computer is connecting to. Network adapter converts a computer message into electrical or optical signals for transmission across the network. A network adapter is identified in a network through a MAC address that is hard-coded onto the hardware by its manufacturer.

Network Adapter
Picture: Network Adapters
Internal or external network adapter attaches a computer (desktop PC or laptop) to a LAN.

Built-in network adapter is integrated with a computer motherboard. Internal network adapter is installed inside a computer on an expansion slot. It is often called NIC (network interface card) usually inserted into a PCI slot in a PC or a mini PCI slot in a notebook.  External network adapter is a separate device that is connected to a computer via serial port, parallel port, and mostly USB port. External adapter also comes in the forms of PC Card (PCMCIA card) for notebooks, CF card for PDAs, or SD (Secure Digital) card for consumer electronics (such as digital camera).

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