For some areas of my house, I do not have the ability to connect devices to my router through a traditional wired Ethernet connection. It is just not feasible from a cost viewpoint to wire my house. What I have been able to do over the past few years is to test many a WiFi or Powerline device to connect various components I have to my router.
Over that course of time, I have basically abandoned Powerline as Ethernet connection devices simply because the ability to reliably connect such devices and maintain a reasonable transfer rate seemed to diminish over time. That is not to say that they would not work for you; they just do not work reliably for me with the wiring in my house.
That leaves WiFi adapters as my only reliable means of networking various non-PC devices, such as my BD player. My TV is not a Ethernet enabled device, so I do not have to concern myself with that, yet. In my media center, I also have an HTPC as well as a Boxee Box, both of which require an Ethernet connection to access the LAN and WAN.
Adding that up, I have three devices that need access to my router and the Internet. The HTPC is actually not a problem as I have an USB WiFi adapter currently attached to that item. The BD player and Boxee Box are a problem in that most WiFi devices require drivers to work, which neither of those two items have the ability to install. The result is that my BD player cannot access the Internet for firmware updates and my Boxee Box has been gathering dust.
When using Powerline adapter, the two features that I found most compelling about them were the ability to behave as a “universal” wired Ethernet adapter and many have built-in switches for hooking up multiple devices. If I could get a WiFi adapter that could have that “multiple” and “universal” feature set, life could be good!
I decided it was finally time to figure out a way to get those non-PC devices “connected” in that manner. I have reviewed a couple of universal WiFi adapters and I actually do use a couple of them for some Xbox 360 gaming consoles. Those adapters work quite well for that task. For my media center, I really needed one of those adapters combined with a switch. I have never investigated if such as a combined device existed, but I thought there really should not be any reason why I could not get one of those adapters and connect it to an extra switch I have laying around, thus giving me the feature set I desired.
Once this idea started percolating, I wanted to get it sorted out quickly to see how well it worked. I had a 20% off coupon from Staples and since one of my kids works there, I get an extra 10% off, so I headed over to there to see what they had sitting on the shelf. One of the items I found was a Netgear WNCE3001 universal WiFi adapter
I liked that it was dual-band and not too expensive for my purposes, so I picked that one up, brought it home, connected it through a TRENDnet 5-port TEG-S5 switch
to my BD player and Boxee Box. The result: full LAN and WAN access! The only problem I had at that point was I needed an extra HDMI input to my TV. So it is now off to Newegg to get myself an HDMI switch.
Once I get the HDMI switch in and the HTPC switched over to the Netgear WIFi adapter, the resulting setup will look like the following.
The one downside to all this might be if more than one device were trying to access the router at one time. I suspect that this might be a problem with the adapter, something of which I do not foresee as a large problem as I would anticipate having only one device on at a time, but I will test that scenario once I get the HDMI adapter in and the HTPC switched over to the Netgear adapter.
Therefore, to be continued…