I scored the D-LINK DWL-G730AP for the XBOX 360. This was suggested when researching wifi solutions. Amazon shipped it and it got here the next day. Hows that for service? To make a long story short, I had exactly an hour to set it up yesterday before I was supposed to hop on for work.
How did that go?
For one, I’m running Linux, so I never got to review their quick start CD. The manual, however, is total crap and I ended up downloading the PDF from the website. D-Link tends to be better and consistent across their administration interface, and I had owned one previously before getting a netgear for the XBOX 360’s wired connection. The XBOX 360 shits fat packets, and if your hardware isn’t certified your connection used to completely suck. Nowadays people figured out the trick and the firmwares work, but be aware if your router crashes (and the REV A hardware and firmwares before 2 do for this device) you need a newer device. The old D-Link did this to a T and the Amazon reviews pretty much say nothings improved since 2006. It either works, or not. Thankfully buying it news means you get Rev B, and firmware 2.
This does nothing for the UI.
The UI is junk, frankly. To start with it depends on a swith on the bottom to configure it as a client (what you need for the XBOX), a router (with only one uplink port, lol) or a firewall. The last mode is next to useless, but if you’re looking to add wifi connectivity to a switch or router, it might scratch your itch. The problem is that the firewall settings are godawful. This doesn’t become a problem if you’re not using it as an AP. On the other hand, the other settings are godawful too and it’s not hard to see why there’s a totally seperate UI on the disk.
Configuration is the standard D-Link blue and white UI. The problems start with that switch. The UI changes from the position of the switch, but the modes are all roughly the same and bits and pieces either appear and disappear based on that switches positon. Sometimes this makes no sense at all. Trying to configure the device for a bridge lets me set the LAN side to DHCP. This makes sense, right? We want the XBOX to get a new IP when we plug it in, right? No. This means the LAN side of the bridge is DHCP, which means that it’s no longer 192.168.0.30 and now expects to have it’s IP assigned. Since the XBOX, or your laptop isn’t a DHCP server, this makes no sense at all in bridge mode. Similarly the gateway should be unconfigured (0.0.0.0) and the DNS server too. Since this device cannot be a DNS server (or relay) I’m not even sure why they put those features in there. Also completely weird is the SSID search – you must find your router using the wizard and select it with the radio-button. You also need to specify a channel and it can’t figure out the authentication on it’s own. Why? No idea. The Netgear stuff can cloak the SSID and hop channels to avoid interference, but not using this device.
The final insult was that – for configuration – you need a static IP. After configuration, you need a dynamic IP. This is probably something gracefully handled by the install disc, but it’s not mentioned anywhere in the manual. I spent most of my time second guessing the config. Finally I fired up the DHCP client and bound it to the eth0 device which already had a static IP configuration and it magically worked. However, you’re not told (or prompted) to switch your settings once the device is configured. If you’re wondering, the gateway is set to the IP of the LAN side, but DNS needs to be another server. Your IP address is dynamically assigned and the device actually treats the whole process as full NAT, which is exactly what needs to happen to host XBOX games.
I’ve thrown these things under the bus pretty badly, but to be honest, once it’s configured you don’t have to worry about it. I played Modern Warfare 2 last night with no hiccups, and also watched a few Netflix. I saw no issues with either, and Netflix gives me the “five bars of signal”. If you can put up with the terrible UI once, it’s worth the money compared to the same crap from Microsoft. It has the bonus of being usuable for any device with an ethernet port, so in this way it’s superior. Friends and hunting buddies who want to get online with their computers now can just use this business card sized device instead of me having to run cable. If I had to reconfigure it many times, I probably would suggest passing on it.