Summary: Have an HDTV, Blu-ray player, or other device that you want to connect to your wireless network, but can't because it doesn't have wi-fi built in? IOGEAR has a new universal adapter that might be able to help you. Before you go out and spend the money on that manufacturer-recommended wireless adapter or a big bundle of cables, learn more about the alternative in today's review!
Though they advertise it mainly as a means of freeing your home entertainment system from the shackles of unsightly cable mess, it actually works as a wireless-N adapter for anything that has an Ethernet port. So in addition to connecting things like your Blu-ray player, HDTV, or set-top box to a wireless network, it would work just fine on a PC, game console, or network-enabled printer. So when they say ďUniversal,Ē they really mean it. No more buying overpriced manufacturer-specific wireless adapters!
This Universal Wi-Fi N adapter differs from a standard wireless adapter that you might buy for your computer in that it emulates a wired network connection. Thatís how itís able to connect ANY device to a wireless router, so long as it has an Ethernet port, without having to install drivers or even set it up more than once. In that sense, itís kind of like having a very long, invisible Ethernet cable, except within a very small and sleek black package.
Here are the specifications:
Whatís in the box?
Standard installation of the Universal Wi-Fi N adapter is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is connect it to the Ethernet port of whatever youíre trying to add to your wireless network, then provide power by plugging the USB cable into a powered USB port or into a wall outlet using the included A/C adapter. The cables arenít very long, so if your TV, Blu-ray player, etc. is in a remote area away from any free outlets, youíre going to have to rely on having a free USB port on that or another device nearby that will remain powered on whenever wireless connectivity is needed.
After that, setting it up is easy if your router supports WPS: just press the button on the top of the adapter and youíre golden. However, if your router doesnít support WPS, like mine, youíll have to manually configure things. That requires you connect the adapter to a Windows computer with both the Ethernet and USB cables, set a manual IP address, access the built-in utility via the web browser, select which wireless signal to use and provide the password, then switch back to an automatic IP address. Thankfully, the process takes no more than 5 minutes and is detailed for every operating system in the manual. Not to mention, you only have to do it once -- after that, you can plug it in to any other Ethernet port within range of your router and it will connect immediately.
I donít have a stand-alone Blu-ray player or an internet-enabled TV, but it did work flawlessly on everything I tried it out on, including my Comcast DVR, PlayStation 3, Core i7 gaming rig, older Core 2 Duo PC, and even a 6-year-old laptop. It was kind of a pain to have to configure it manually, but it apparently saves that information on internal memory and will remember your wireless settings even after you unplug it. There are no drivers to install, and it performs just as well as the USB wireless-N adapter I normally use. In fact, the data rate is likely to be limited by your Ethernet port rather than the wireless signal unless you have a newer/premium motherboard or add-in card that supports gigabit transfer speeds. I didnít experience any drop-outs or lost packets during the solid 24 hours I used it on my primary computer, either. Granted, I live in a small apartment, so the adapter was only about 20 feet away from the router with one wall in between, so your mileage may vary.
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