Review: Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless N Networking Adapter
December 18, 2009
If you just want the simplest way to get your 360 connected to an 802.11n network, Microsoft's Xbox 360 Wireless N adapter does the job nicely.
Price: $99.99 (MSRP)
Pros: Easy setup and supports Windows Connect Now; works on both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.
Cons: Short--and captive--USB cord may necessitate purchase of extension cable in some cases; can't be used to network other AV devices.
The wireless adapter, which is available only in Elite-matching black and sports a pair of stubby antennas, connects to the console via USB. You can either clip the unit to the back of the Xbox or use the adjustable feet to position it away from the console. The only potential wrinkle is that the captive USB cable is only a couple of inches long, so if your console is buried in an enclosed AV cabinet that may cause reception difficulties, you'll need a USB extension cable to optimally position the adapter. (Unfortunately, an extension cable isn't included.)
Getting an Xbox online with the Microsoft N adapter is quite easy. An included software disc provides and automatically installs necessary software and drivers, though you won't need it if the console has been previously networked and is up-to-date on with the latest version of the system software. After installation, you can scan for networks and enter a WEP, WPA, or WPA2 encryption key via the game controller (entering a long complicated key without the benefit of a keyboard can be a bit cumbersome).
The Microsoft N adapter doesn't support WPS, but it does offer simplified setup through Windows Connect Now, which lets you copy wireless network settings from a Windows PC to a USB flash drive which you can then connect to the Xbox for automatic wireless configuration.
A Wireless N-to-Ethernet bridge is still a better option when you want to network multiple A/V devices alongside a 360 (and even dual-band, four port N bridges don't cost much more), but if you just want the simplest way to get your 360 connected to a Wireless N network, Microsoft's Xbox 360 Wireless N adapter does the job nicely.
Joseph Moran is a veteran product reviewer and co-author of Getting StartED with Windows 7 from Friends of Ed.