Wireless Network Cables and Adapters Buying Guide

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Wireless Network Cables and Adapters Buying Guide

Online interaction with other players is a vital part of playing modern video games. Whether it is a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) or the latest first-person tactical shooter, teaming up with or competing against other players from a variety of locations adds a new dimension to gameplay. An Internet connection can be used with consoles for many other reasons too, including downloading digital copies of games, films, and other media.

To enjoy the online experience of video games through a wireless connection, it is sometimes necessary to purchase a separate wireless network cable and adapter. Adapters connect directly to the console via a short cable and communicate with a Wi-Fi router within a wireless local area network (WLAN). Not all consoles require a separate adapter, so it is useful to be familiar with the various models on the market to determine which ones have a built-in wireless connection. In some cases, different models of the same gaming platform vary in their wireless connectivity.

Wireless cables and adapters for video game consoles can be purchased from electronics retailers, game shops, and online sellers. Marketplaces like eBay have listings for a wide selection of items in both new and used condition. Consider all of the available options to choose the most appropriate items for the console.

Types of Game Consoles

Before committing to the purchase of a wireless network cable and adapter, take the time to determine if the console being used requires an external device. Several major console systems from the sixth and seventh generation of video games are compatible with wireless network connections. However, not all of them have this capability built into the machine, which means that it is necessary to purchase a separate adapter. Consider the different consoles to determine which platforms and models are wireless compatible and which require a separate adapter. It is also useful to consider the Wi-Fi technology and network security protocol an adapter is designed with. Bear in mind that a wireless router is needed to establish a WLAN connection.

Microsoft Xbox 360

Several models of the Xbox 360 have been produced. These can be separated into two categories based on the machine's form factor. The Core,, Arcade,, Pro,, and Elite models use the larger form factor from the console's initial release, while the later S model uses the smaller, redesigned case. All early models require an external adapter for wireless connectivity. The S models have wireless capabilities built into the machine.

Sony PlayStation 2

The PlayStation 2,, like all sixth generation home consoles, does not have built-in support for a wireless Internet connection. It also does not have a USB port, so the only adapters that work with the PS2 are ones with an Ethernet connection. There are two models of the PlayStation 2: the original release and the redesigned "slim&" console. With the original form factor, owners must first attach a PS2 network adapter to the back of the console in order to connect to an Ethernet cable. On the slim models, the network adapter is built into the system. This means that the Ethernet adapter can be connected directly to the port on the back of the unit.

Although online play for original Xbox games has ended, many servers are still operated for PS2 games. Some gamers have also found alternative methods to link up and play with other people online. These usually involve correspondence through gaming forums and an agreement on when to meet and play.

Sony PlayStation 3

Nearly all PlayStation 3 models have built-in wireless adapters and can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi without any external components. The exception to this is the large format 20 GB model released at launch.

Nintendo Wii

The Nintendo Wii has a built-in wireless adapter. This is true for all versions of the Wii that have been released since its initial launch.

Wireless Adapter Compatibility

Some consoles, such as the Xbox 360, have wireless adapters produced by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Others, like the 20 GB model of the PlayStation 3, do not. This means that a compatible product must be used instead. There are several types of wireless network adapters available. Bear in mind that the specific brand and model of adapter can determine how easy is to connect to the console. For example, some products are designed specifically for use with game consoles and are more likely to be compatible than a standard network adapter. It is also worth considering the interface of the adapter, its network security protocol, and its wireless LAN specification.


Wireless network adapters can use either USB or Ethernet connections, and it is necessary to choose products with the appropriate interface plug for the console being used. The following table offers a list of consoles that use USB and Ethernet, respectively.

Type of Interface

Supported Systems


Xbox 360

PlayStation 3


Xbox 360

PlayStation 2

PlayStation 3

Many modern wireless adapters are equipped with separate cables for USB and Ethernet connections. As a result, these products can be used for more than one console.

Wi-Fi Technologies

The Wi-Fi technology used determines the signal range, resistance to interference from other devices, and the speed of the connection. It also affects the price of the unit. 802.11 is the standard for WLAN connections, although there are several different version of the technology, including 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n. The following table lists each of these technologies along with their pros and cons.

WLAN Technology




Fast connection speed

No signal interference from other devices

Short range signal that can be obstructed by walls

Most expensive technology


Strong signal range that is resistant to obstruction

Least expensive option

Slow speeds

Subject to interference from home appliances


Fast connection speed

Resistant to signal obstruction from walls

Subject to interference from appliances

More expensive than 802.11b


Fastest connection speed

Best signal range

Resistant to signal interference

Can interfere with 802.11b signals

More expensive than 802.11g

There is not necessarily a best option. The choice of WLAN technology depends ultimately on the budget of the buyer and the location of the adapter in relation to household appliances and the router.

Network Security Protocols

Some older adapters use the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol for their security. Although this was originally designed to create protection on 802.11 technologies that could rival wired connections, it was later proven to be relatively insecure. When possible, avoid adapters that use WEP. Instead, look for products with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or WPA2.


Wireless adapters are sold in several conditions, ranging from factory new items to products that have extensive wear and tear. It is important to consider the condition of an item to ensure that it functions properly with a console. Sellers often used standardised terms to describe the condition of the adapters they sell, including new, new other and used. Use these terms for a quick assessment of the item. When possible, inspect an adapter in person or read the item description online to understand its condition


Playing video games online creates exciting opportunities to team up with or challenge other players. Modern video games can also be downloaded digitally through an Internet connection, along with films and other entertainment media. For greater convenience, buyers can connect their consoles to a WLAN. Although modern systems have built-in wireless connectivity, older units may have to be linked up via an external adapter. Begin by deciding whether the system being used requires an external adapter. Some platforms, such as Xbox 360, vary from one model of the system to the next.

Wireless adapters are designed to connect with a console through either a USB or Ethernet port, so understand which interface option the system supports. It is important to consider the WLAN technology used in the adapter, as it affects connection speeds, signal range, interference issues, and cost. Finally, look for products that use WPA or WPA2 security protocols instead of WEP. eBay has listings for both OEM and compatible units. Compare products and prices to find the best items for establishing a convenient wireless connection for gaming.

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