The ravers at Burning Man will be impressed when you turn a single satellite connection into a Wi-Fi hotspot providing free Internet access to a couple hundred square feet of playa. But wait, you left your Wi-Fi router at home? No problem. Just use PCTEL Segue Soft Access Point software to turn your notebook into a de facto router, and you’re off to the art-car races.

Segue Soft Access Point, which is included with some Wi-Fi cards and motherboards, runs on any Wi-Fi-ready Windows notebook. Once running, it uses the computer’s Wi-Fi adapter to create an ad hoc network. If the computer has a separate connection to the Internet (via a cable or a second Wi-Fi card), you can share that over the Segue network.

The situations where you’d need to do this are admittedly few — apart from Burning Man, Segue Soft AP might be useful to a team of consultants visiting a client’s office where only a single Ethernet connection is available.

The status screen for Segue Soft AP lets you monitor how many devices are currently connected and how long the network has been active. Switching the network on or off is a one-click process that takes about 15 seconds. Segue supports WEP and WPA encryption and MAC address filtering.

Apart from the security settings, Segue Soft AP doesn’t do much that you can’t do already in Windows XP using Internet Connection Sharing and Windows’ ability to create an ad hoc wireless network. However, setting this up in Windows is an extremely finicky process. Segue Soft AP is simpler, faster, and more reliable. For that reason, it’s a fine solution for the fairly narrow range of people who are likely to need it. -Dylan Tweney

Best Feature: Easier to configure than Windows Internet Connection Sharing
Worst Feature: Fairly limited range of uses

PCTEL Segue Soft Access Point
Specs: 802.11g; DHCP; WEP and WPA encryption; supports VPN pass-through
System requirements: 1GHz Pentium III or higher; 128MB of RAM; Windows 98, ME, 2000, or XP; PCTEL-compatible Wi-Fi adapter

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Link: PCTEL Segue Soft Access Point

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