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An inexpensive and versatile wireless bridge
TrendNet might pigeonhole its TEW-647GA Wireless N Gaming Adapter as a gaming-console peripheral, but we think it’s much more useful than that. The tiny device is capable of linking any hard-wired Ethernet device—be it an Xbox, a PC, or a Blu-ray player—to an 802.11b/g/n wireless network for a street price less than $50.
Granted, Microsoft’s own Xbox 360 Wireless N Networking Adapter is smaller still (and draws power from the Xbox 360’s USB port), but that device is nearly twice as expensive and it doesn’t support anything other than the Xbox 360. The TEW-647GA is a lot prettier to look at, too, with its dual antennas stealthily concealed inside its black plastic housing.
Much of the TEW-647GA's appeal is its low street price of just $50.
The TEW-647GA supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), so installation is a simple matter of connecting its single LAN port to the device you wish to attach to your network, plugging its small power adapter into an outlet, and pushing the WPS buttons on the adapter and the wireless router. Those of you who are still swinging with an older router that doesn’t support WPS will need to fire up a computer to add the device to your network, but Trendnet provides a helpful tutorial on disc that will step you through the process.
We tethered the TEW-647GA to our Xbox 360, which is separated from our D-Link DIR-655 Wireless N router by one wall and approximately thirty feet of air, and commenced gaming. During several hours of gaming, using Microsoft’s adapter first and then Trendnet’s, we experienced nary a dropout or an instance of lag. We then changed locales by moving up a floor, directly above our router, and experienced the same results with both devices.
For our next test, we streamed an HD movie from our PC to the Xbox. Microsoft’s adapter performed well, effortlessly delivering our flick. The TEW-647GA delivered a good, but not great, experience and twice forced us to endure the dreaded loading bar. Microsoft’s product was also consistently faster—by several seconds—when it came to initiating HD videos.
We then took the TEW-647GA an a computer on a room-by-room tour of our test facility, using IPERF to measure TCP throughput. Not surprisingly, the device performed best when it was in the same room as our Wi-Fi router, delivering TCP throughput of 52.4Mbp/s. One floor up, directly above our router, throughput dropped to 30Mbp/s. It delivered 26.7Mb/s in our Xbox room. These speeds are more than adequate for online gaming, and they’re plenty fast for streaming HD video. But when we moved the device into a more distant bedroom—60 feet from the router and on a different floor of our home—the adapter was unable to reach the router at all.
The TEW-647GA is a solid solution for connecting a single Ethernet device to your wireless network, and it’s much less expensive and much more versatile than Microsoft’s Xbox-specific offering. We’re a little disappointed with its range and TCP throughput, but it’s certainly priced right if you don’t need a long-distance wireless network connection for a gaming console, home-theater PC, or Blu-ray player.
Inexpensive; adequate wireless throughput for gaming and most video applications.
Limited range and TCP throughput; we experienced some hiccups streaming HD video.