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Wireless Home Networking For Dummies - Danny Briere.pdf
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234 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network

Console wireless networking equipment

In case we haven’t made it abundantly clear in our discussion so far, we reiterate: None of the consoles that we’ve discussed comes with any kind of built-in wireless LAN capabilities, and none of the networking kits or adapters that you need to buy from the console maker includes wireless LAN equipment. What all these consoles do have, when outfitted for online gaming, is an Ethernet port. This will undoubtedly change, but for now that’s it.

And really, that’s all you need, thanks to the availability of relatively inexpensive wireless Ethernet bridges. The deeper you get into the networking world, the more likely you are to run into the concept of a bridge, which is simply a device that connects two segments of a network together. Unlike hubs or switches or routers or most other network equipment (we talk about a lot of this stuff back in Chapters 2 and 5), a bridge doesn’t do anything with the data flowing through it. It basically just passes the data straight through without manipulating it, rerouting it, or even caring what it is. A wireless Ethernet bridge’s sole purpose in life, then, is to send data back and forth between two points. (Not too tough to see where the name came from, huh?)

While we’re discussing these wireless Ethernet bridges in terms of game consoles networks in this chapter, they’re actually quite handy devices that can be used for a lot of different applications in your wireless LAN. Basically, any device that has an Ethernet port — such as a TiVo or ReplayTV personal video recorder (PVR), an MP3 server (such as the AudioReQuest), even an Internet refrigerator (such as Samsung’s Internet Refrigerator) — can hook into your wireless home network using a wireless Ethernet bridge.

Wireless Ethernet bridges are a relatively new phenomenon in the wireless LAN world — which is really saying something considering the fact that wireless LANs have been a mainstream technology for only a couple of years. As we write, only a couple of wireless Ethernet bridges are on the market. We don’t expect this situation to last — our contacts at just about every wireless networking equipment company that we know tell us that they, too, are working on their own products in this category.

As we write, you can find two widely available models, which we discuss in detail momentarily:

D-Link’s D-LinkAir DWL-810

Linksys WET11

Chapter 12: Gaming over a Wireless Home Network 235

Both of these wireless Ethernet bridges use the common 11 Mbps 802.11b system. That means that they won’t work on the faster 802.11a networking system. They should work on the new 802.11g system but only at the lower 802.11b 11 Mbps speed (which should be fast enough for your gaming needs!). Also, keep in mind that although 802.11b gear is supposed to work on 802.11g networks, a lot of “g” gear is pretty new on the market and has not yet undergone extensive interoperability testing.

The great thing about wireless Ethernet bridges — besides the fact that they solve the very real problem of getting non-computer devices onto the wireless network — is that they are the essence of Plug and Play. You might have to spend three or four minutes setting up the bridge itself (getting it connected to your wireless network), but you don’t need to do anything special to your game console besides plug the bridge in. All the game consoles that we discuss in this chapter (at least when equipped with the appropriate network adapters and software) will “see” your wireless Ethernet bridge as just a regular Ethernet cable. You don’t need any drivers or other special software on the console. The console doesn’t know (nor does it care in its not-so-little console brain) that there’s a wireless link in the middle of the connection. It just works!

Not many wireless Ethernet bridges are on the market yet, and none are yet available in the faster 802.11a or 802.11g flavors of wireless LANs. We fully expect that to change and to change fast. So if you’re using one of these newer technologies in your LAN, don’t despair. Keep an eye on the vendor Web sites or on one of the other wireless LAN news sites that we discuss in Chapter 20. You’ll probably see a solution for your network before too long.

D-LinkAir DWL-810

D-Link (www.dlink.com) has developed this product with gaming consoles in mind. And in fact, D-Link even has its own online Gamer’s Haven site with lots of great gaming information on it (games.dlink.com). The $129 list price DWL-810 (see Figure 12-2) doesn’t need any special drivers or configuration but does include a Web-browser based configuration program that enables you to do things like enter your Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) keys. (Check out Chapter 10 for more information on this.)

236 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network

Figure 12-2:

The D-Link




Because this bridge can also be used to connect to wired Ethernet hubs and switches, you need to use a special kind of Ethernet cable — a crossover cable — to connect the DWL-810 to your console. (A crossover cable is basically an Ethernet cable that’s used to interconnect two computers by crossing over [reversing] their respective pin assignments.) Luckily, D-Link includes one in the box — just remember to use that cross-over cable and not a regular Ethernet cable when you hook things up. If you use this bridge with one of D-Link’s access points, you can actually take advantage of their proprietary system that speeds up the network to throughputs up to 22 Mbps.

Linksys WET11

The Linksys WET11 ($129; www.linksys.com), like the DWL-810, allows an easy connection between any Ethernet device and your Wi-Fi network. The only substantial difference between the WET11 and the DWL-810 is the addition of an uplink switch on the WET11. Instead of using a cross-over cable to connect to a game console (or any other individual device), you simply slide a switch on the back of the WET11 to a particular position. On the WET11 devices that we’ve seen, the switch position for connecting to game consoles is labeled X — the position labeled II is used for connecting to a hub or switch. Because of this switch, you use a standard straight-through Ethernet cable with the WET11 instead of a cross-over Ethernet cable.