Wanting to join in the online fun of DS games, I decided to put in an order for Datel's WiFi Max USB dongle at Dvd.co.uk. At first, I was a little worried about my order with them reading reviews about the long delays they had with the deliveries but, after putting in an order for it last Wednesday, it safely arrived this morning.
Originally I considered getting Nintendo's official NDS USB Access Point but, it was a little more expensive than Datel's alternative product at £25 instead of £18. Also, Nintendo's device was limited to the DS and didn't have support for any other wireless devices whereas Datel's did, offering more value for money. I could have got a fully functioning router but, I didn't really need one and so there was no need to pay twice the price or more for a decent one.
So lets have a look at what's in the box... Inside, we have the WiFi USB dongler and a stand for it. There's also three small manuals in English, French and German. Then there is also two copies of the software disk for setting up the device.
First, I had to install the appropriate software and drivers from the disk. Inserting the CD into the drive, autoplay opened up a menu asking me whether I was going to setup the device for the Sony PSP or Nintendo DS. Choosing DS, the program continued to install the drivers for the device at which point, Win XP warns me about installing "uncertified drivers". Clicking continue, the drivers install smoothly and the program continues to install the configuration utility for the WiFi Max device.
No problems so far. Next I plug in the WiFi Max into the PC. You can either plug in the USB dongle directly or, use the provided stand. Windows detects the device and offers to install the drivers for it. Choosing to find them automatically, Windows picks up the WiFi Max drivers, recognising the device.
According to the manual, all I had to do now was to run the WiFi Max configuration program, choose "Auto Setup" and that would be me. Things didn't quite workout that way, however...
Looking at the WiFi icon in the task tray, I found that the device was inactive. It seemed to have problems getting an IP address assigned to it so in an attempt to rectify the problem, I manually assigned one to it. This made the device active so immediately I connected to the internet.
Auto-detecting my new WiFi device on the DS, I tried connecting to Nintendo's WiFi Connection (WFC) network but, nothing happened. The DS wasn't getting through to the net and the little network icons in the task tray wasn't flashing. I went into the properties of my internet connection to check if Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) was on and it was. The WiFi Max should work with the DS with these settings but, then I noticed there was a box under the ICS checkbox that said "Local Network Connection."
Unchecking ICS, clicking OK and then going back into connection properties again, a drop down box appeared, allowing me to either share the internet connection through my LAN card or, the WiFi Max device. Currently it was set to sharing the connection with my LAN card. After choosing the new WiFi Max device from the drop down box, I tried connecting my DS to WFC again and this time it worked! I could now play some 4 player races in Mario Kart and have some crazy fights in Bleach DS.
Although the WiFi Max was working now and I could play DS games online, there was another problem. Now that ICS was configured to share the internet through the WiFi Max, my brother could no longer connect to the internet through the LAN cable. I could always disable ICS and re-enable it to work with the LAN card but, there must be a better solution.
After spending a few hours browsing the internet about how to setup two network devices with ICS, I finally found the solution; bridging. I had to bridge my LAN card with the WiFi Max so that the internet could be accessible from both adapters.
To bridge the two network adapters, all I had to was first disable ICS. Next, going into Network Connections, I selected both the LAN connection and WiFi Max connection. I then right-clicked on one of them and selected "Bridge". Sure enough, a new virtual network adapter was created linking both the LAN card and the WiFi Max together.
Returning back to the ICS option in my internet connection, no drop down box was available anymore. I re-enabled it and my DS could successfully connect to WFC again.
Features & Security
As you may know, it's a good idea to secure your wireless network for various reasons such as preventing strangers from getting free internet access, monitoring your activities, stealing files or, using your computer as a proxy for committing hightech crimes. With Nintendo's USB Access Point, it isn't really necessary because it only works with the DS. However, with Datel's WiFi Max, any computer within range can access your network because it's setup as an access point by default.
Fortunately, you can configure a WEP / WPA key and also maintain a MAC address filter using the utility that comes with the WiFi Max. The only problem is, the DS only supports the weaker WEP keys and as some of you may know, they can be cracked in less than 5 minutes with the right tools. Even so, WEP keys should be sufficient enough for home connections and the MAC filter will help back it up.
Datel's WiFi Max USB dongle is good value for money if you don't already have a wireless setup at home, allowing you to connect other wireless devices to it unlike Nintendo's NDS USB Access Point. This however, means it's open to access by any stranger with a wireless computer if not setup properly.
If you're not already using the Internet Connection Sharing feature on your computer then, the WiFi Max should be very easy to configure. On the other hand, if you want both a wired and wireless network to share the internet, you'll need a little bit of technical know-how.