CenDyne's Wireless PlayStation 2 Gaming Adapter and Wireless Xbox Gaming Adapter.

By Joseph Moran

July 30, 2003

These new products specifically target getting your Ethernet equipped game console onto your wireless network to do some heavy online gaming. And with very few hassles, they work perfectly -- just as well as any other Ethernet-to-wireless adapter. [Editor's Note: Cendyne went out of business on August 21, 2003, before it was even able to ship this product.]

[Editor's Note: Cendyne went out of business on August 21, 2003, before it was even able to ship this product.]

With a name like CenDyne, you might think the company is a defense contractor specializing in advanced weaponry and tactical munitions. It turns out, however, that CenDyne is a purveyor of advanced PC peripherals, mostly in the DVD-RW/R/RW area.

CenDyne's newest line of products are Wireless On-Line Gaming Adapters, or what in other guises is known as an Ethernet-to-Wireless bridge or just a wireless Ethernet adapter. Meaning, they plug into a product's Ethernet port and let the product go wireless. The major upside for most home owners here is no snaking Ethernet cables in the walls to your TV area.

The two CenDyne products, one targeting Xbox, the other for PlayStation 2, cost $99 each and the company intends to market them in stores in the same aisles with the games and peripherals for each console. Because the adapters are Ethernet devices and the PlayStation 2 (PS2) lacks an integrated Ethernet port, a PS2 Online Network Adapter is required. Xbox has an Ethernet port integrated. (Separate charges apply for going online with individual PS2 games or using the Xbox Live online system.)

After we opened the CenDyne Adapters (before, actually, since the products comes in a clear plastic package, though each comes with a color scheme appropriate to its target console), we noticed a striking resemblance between the CenDyne adapters and the D-Link DWL-810+ Ethernet-to-Wireless Bridge. The products are the same size and dimensions, and have indicator lights on the front of the chassis and antennae, Ethernet, and power ports on the rear, all in exactly the same place. Given these obvious similarities, it wasn't a surprise when powering up the CenDyne and accessing the Web-based configuration interface through a PC it yielded an interface that bore unmistakable parallels to the D-Link, both in terms of aesthetics and of the features provided. D-Link's support site is even mentioned in the online help file for the Xbox Adapter.

However, a comparison of the vendor-specific portions of the units' MAC addresses revealed numbers that were different. CenDyne disavows any relationship with D-Link and we have no reason to disbelieve this claim, but its a logical assumption that the CenDyne and D-Link are produced by a common third-party, probably in the same facility.

Aside from imparting a sense of deja-vu, working with the CenDyne products offered no unpleasant surprises. There is no client software required to get them setup. An auto-sensing LAN port lets you use either a straight through or crossover cable (the former is included), and a software wizard guides you through the basics of integrating the product into your WLAN.

The units can be given either a static address or obtain one via DHCP , and can function in either infrastructure or ad-hoc (peer-to-peer) mode. It comes with a default static IP address of 192.168.0.30, so if your home network already uses the 192.168.0.xxx setup, you might be able to plug it into the console out of the box and not go through the setup on the PC at all. If you do need to change the IP address and you don't use 192.168.0.xxx, you'll need to change the IP address of one computer to use that type of address, connect the adapter to the PC directly, Web surf to 192.168.0.30, and then reset the adapter either to match your network or to use DHCP to get an IP address. Not fun, but no different than another home network products that comes with an IP address pre-assigned.

The TI chipset--based adapters (once again, just like the D-Link) claims a maximum speed of 22 Mbps, and sure enough we easily connected to a D-Link DI-614+ AirPlus Router at a 22 Mbps PBCC data rate (it also worked fine with a Linksys Dual-Band WRT55AG A+G Router in 11b mode). For the security conscious, the unit also supports up to 256-bit WEP encryption.

CenDyne's packaging and documentation prominently mention that the product is intended for use with the specified game console, but in reality this claim is more for marketing than for technical reasons. The documentation for the PS2 unit -- the pages of which are the size of a pack of cigarettes and contain minute text--offer directions for setting up the unit with a PS2 specifically, but the unit worked equally well with an Xbox console, or for that matter as a Ethernet-to-wireless bridge adapter for a PC.

Unlike some products with bridging capabilities, the CenDyne lacks additional functions like the ability to act as a regular access point or a wireless repeater. Then again, most products at this price point lack those capabilities too.

One item missing that would be nice is an on/off switch. Since the adapter runs on separate AC power, when you turn off the console the product is still running. The only way to shut it down then is unplug it.

At $99, pricing is more or less on a par with Ethernet-to-wireless bridge products from companies like SMC, D-Link, or Linksys (though Linksys just announced a set of game console specific products, an 11b product coming in about $20 to $30 less than CenDyne's, plus a more expensive version with 801.11g). While competing companies' products may offer more panache or better packaging and documentation, ultimately the CenDyne (black in color, by the way, to match your console) will do the job as well as any.



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