Product Type: Microsoft in Wireless LAN
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"Look Ma! No Wires!"
Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Networking Adapter
Member Name: johnpeter50
Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Networking Adapter
Advantages: Easy to install; 'plug-and-play' convenience; reliable reception.
Disadvantages: Exceedingly expensive; no extras; unofficial alternatives are available.
Love to play your console online, but hate the usual trail of brightly coloured Ethernet cable? Then youíll need a wireless bridge, and happily Microsoft has taken it upon themselves to create one specifically for the task of connecting the Xbox 360 to your home network.
The device comes sealed in a vacuum-packed container thatíll take a tough pair of scissors to open. Despite having clearly marked a Ďcut hereí symbol on the packet, following its advice is unlikely to sufficiently open the box to remove the product; instead I recommend carefully cutting vertically rather than horizontally across the pack.
Inside, youíll find the device and two instruction manuals carrying the usual mix of European languages. Unfortunately even with the two booklets, the English directions are vague and unhelpful should you encounter a problem, and youíd be wise to abandon them in favour of stronger online support from unofficial sources.
The adaptor itself is a thin white box, not all that much bigger than a USB pen drive. Attached to it are a small grey antenna, a round green power light and several inches of cable in order to connect it to the USB port.
A small clip on the back of the device allows the adapter to be mounted onto the rear of the console in order to retain the unsullied lines of the 360ís design. Itís then just a matter of linking the USB connector and setting the antenna to an angle where itíll get the best reception.
Its natural simplicity is the key to the unit, and yet even with its minimalist aim it still manages to run into a few minor design flaws. Firstly, the antenna can only be turned on a single axis, meaning youíll need to have it sat somewhere on its 180 degree rotation. That means that regardless of placement, youíll have an ugly plastic spine jutting out the back of your console. Secondly, the USB cable is far too short for anything other than rear placement which means thirdly, there seems little point drawing extra power for a light if no-one is ever going to see it!
SETTING UP THE BRIDGE
Setup of the wireless adaptor is quick, clean and simple. Unless you have a sophisticated wireless system utilizing several forms of encryption and pre-set routing patterns, it should just be a matter of connecting the bridge and powering up.
After you turn the console on you should find that the wireless adaptor instantly establishes a connection, unless thereís a specific reason as to why it shouldnít (such as IP restrictions, WEP, etc). If you do encounter any problems they should quickly and easily be sorted with the dashboard diagnostic and setup tools, which perform detailed tests on your link. Here youíll also find your signal strength and link activity so you can monitor the deviceís reception.
Thereís really nothing more to say about the setup procedure. It really is that simple to install unless you have specific networking needs, and even then, it shouldnít take more than several minutes to fill in these settings manually if you know what youíre doing.
RECEPTION & INTERFERENCE
The adaptor is tri-band (802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g) meaning that itíll work with virtually all wireless routers on the market today. Personally, I have experienced no problems at all with my Netgear 802.11g-based router, and should imagine the result would be similarly good on other wireless routers.
In terms of signal strength, Iíve found the adapter to be fairly reasonable. It certainly isnít the strongest signal Iíve ever seen, but it is far from the weakest. My adapter doesnít seem to be affected by transmission drop-out or packet loss, but itís hard to say for sure without being able to analyze the data rates coming to and from the 360. Needless to say, itíll perform admirably for most home consumers with minimal background knowledge of WiFi and wireless networking.
DISADVANTAGES & PROBLEMS
As with all Microsoftís products, the adapter does come with a premium price-tag. I am hard-pressed to find a genuine reason as to why this bridge should cost so much more than others on the market, especially when it is possible to buy an unofficial model that costs half the price and performs the job with similar reliability, albeit without the same USB Ďplug-and-playí convenience.
Similarly, you have to wonder why Microsoft didnít include wireless as standard with the 360! Being such a cheap, reliable, established form of technological communication itís somewhat perplexing as to why it was such a financial quandary to build it into the unit itself, especially when the company launched the console with such a strong focus on online play!?
With a recommended retail price of 60GBP, itís also somewhat disillusioning to see that there are no extras included with the adaptor. You donít get a free ĎGoldí trial; you donít get any bonus points; you get nothing beyond the adapter itself Ė hardly an incentive to stick with the official product!
With such a heavy premium levied on the device, you may find it hard to justify the added expense, particularly when you know there are cheaper, unofficial alternatives to be had. However, if you want an easy, hassle-free method of bringing wireless to your Xbox 360, then you may find that the wireless adaptor is worth the added expense.
Summary: A solid, if expensive, official wireless product.
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