Tag Archives: Networking

360 Wi-Fi Without a £60 Adaptor

Since moving into a place where my gaming den – more on that in an upcoming post – is beyond the reach of an ethernet cable, I came to require a way to get my 360 online wirelessly, and although the official adaptor was the obvious choice, I didn’t want to pay the frankly shameful £60 RRP. I know that wireless hardware is dirt cheap and that one isn’t even fully featured, lacking the WPA2 support that every certified Wi-Fi device since 2006 has featured. Not to mention that it wouldn’t help me avoid my previous issues with the PS3’s built-in Wi-Fi.

It’s not often that I can provide genuinely useful advice, so listen up. I know enough about home networking to know that one way around this is an ethernet bridge, which are reasonably cheap and will work with any ethernet device. But even so, buying one for each console and possibly more for, say, a standalone Blu-ray player in the future could add up.

Linksys WRT54GLMy solution was to buy a Linksys WRT54GL, which can be had for less than £50 new. It’s a fairly basic router with one exception: it runs on Linux.

This being the Internet, it’s been taken apart by enthusiasts to add piles of features through third-party firmware. The free Tomato Firmware, which has a simple client mode as one of its key features, is exactly what you need. I put it in ethernet bridge mode and both consoles are online without a hitch, and the router has been going strong for two weeks now.

I should also point out that Tomato works with a number of other routers, which may even be cheaper. I just went with the Linksys because it was the original.

The official site has a video showing how to put it into client mode, which will be all that 99% of users want. There’s also an excellent tutorial here, which explains the difference between the two client modes – I went with bridge because I wanted everything on the same subnet for video streaming.

I know that I’m not the only one who is baffled by the fact that you can get an excellent router to do the job of the official adaptor and more for less money, but I’m not going to complain too much when open networking standards give us a relatively simple way around the problem. Alas, it’s not as easy to get around extortionate prices on other 360 peripherals like the larger hard drives or charging cables that cost comparatively nothing on a certain competing console, but maybe Microsoft will have a heart with the next iteration.

Then again, only one of those machines is actually making money. Maybe not…

PSN Slow? Switch to Ethernet

It’s a frequent argument that I see between the “PSN is free!” and “But Xbox Live is better!” crowds, and I’ve been firmly in the latter camp. The rubbish download speeds, sub-Xbox (that’s the original Xbox) feature set, poor or complete lack of integration in games, optional features that should be mandatory, bloated download sizes (over 150MB for a Super Stardust HD patch), unreliable connection, etc. Most of the complaints still stand and I’d rather pay for a good service than get an adequate one, but I’ve at least I’ve found the cause of the first and last ones.

I’ve seen a few complaints about the quality of the PS3’s built-in wi-fi, and indeed mine can only manage a 40% signal strength through a single wall that leaves my laptop with almost 80%. Downloading a firmware update through PSN takes over an hour compared with 20 minutes or so to download through my computer and a USB drive. The final straw came when I tried four times to download the patch for Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, which took well over an hour to download a third of the way, only to fail completely.

With the aforementioned issues in mind, I splashed out £13.99 for an ethernet switch, the Netgear FS605. (Any should work; I just went with Netgear because I like its stuff.) The ethernet cable that went directly into my 360 now goes into that, and it supplies Internet goodness to both systems, with two free ports for anything else that might turn up in future.

The improvement was immediate. The GT5 patch downloaded first time within about 15 minutes, and I was able to download the 720p Resident Evil 5 trailer fast enough to stream a good chunk of it. Much more satisfactory, and closer to the speeds that I’ve always been getting from Live.

Completely unscientific and anecdotal without any evidence or statistical basis it may be, but I’ve proven (to myself, at least) that the PS3’s wireless is rubbish and furthered my pro-wired networking agenda. A stable, secure 100Mbps network is just better than a wireless 54Mbps (theoretical) one with signal strength and passwords to worry about. Mine’s now quite happy to stream 1080p video from my computer, which just wasn’t happening with both on wireless connections.


We Mac users have had the short end of the stick to a certain extent with the Xbox 360, since all that lovely Media Center functionality requires Windows XP or Windows Media Center. No more! The lovely folks at Nullriver who brought us PSPWare have just released the first version of Connect360, which lets you stream MP3s and JPGs from your iTunes and iPhoto libraries to the 360. That’s the same stuff that Windows XP can do, and hopefully future versions will add transcoding of AACs and maybe even video streaming.

I tried it out and it certainly seems to do everything that it promises. I booted up the 360 and it immediately found my iBook over the network, and I could look at all of my photos in their full HD glory on my TV. Music worked similarly well although like they say AACs, both protected and otherwise, don’t work yet. Now we just need it to stream video (I’d kill to be able to watch 720p H.264 on the 360) and we’ll be set.

It’s in beta at the moment so you can get it with free updates for life for $10. Not a bad deal…