Netgear WNCE3001 Wireless Internet Adapter Review

AVForums looks at a way to turn older devices wireless

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10

Recommended
Netgear WNCE3001 Wireless Internet Adapter Review
SRP: £55.00

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We’ve recently tested a few wired solutions for creating a network in your home and despite their overall effectiveness, the chances are that most people will be using the wireless variety instead. The almost ubiquitous nature of WiFi means that more and more applications use it and most new devices have it built-in. But what do you do if you have an older TV, Blu-ray player or games console that has internet or streaming capabilities but no built-in WiFi. Well you could go the wired route but that would involve more cables and we all know how unpopular they can be. Besides, the chances are that you’ve already got a wireless network in your home and want to take advantage of it. Luckily there are plenty of companies offering wireless adapters that can give your slightly dated tech a whole new lease of life. One such example is Netgear’s WNCE3001 Universal Dual Band Wireless Internet Adapter for TV & Blu-ray and if you’re wondering what it does, the clue is most definitely in the title. The WNCE3001, to use the device’s shorter if rather bland name, is a wireless adapter that you connect to the Ethernet port on your internet device (TV, Blu-ray player, games console etc.), thus providing wireless access to your network. That all sounds great in theory but how does it work in practice? Let’s find out...

Styling and Design

Compared to a standard WiFi dongle the WNCE3001 wireless adapter is quite large, measuring 8cm x 6cm x 2cm. It’s wedge shaped and made of gloss black plastic, which immediately reminds you of the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey”. In a strange design choice, Netgear have decided to put the connectors on the bottom which precludes you from standing it upright, unless you use the provided stand. However this stand just makes the adapter even bigger, now clocking in at sizable 10cm tall but due to a lack of weight, this configuration makes it rather unstable.

At the top, behind a grille, there is a LED light that is used to indicate the adapter’s status and, as mentioned previously, at the bottom are the connections. There is a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port for connecting the adapter to AV devices, as well as a mini-USB connector for providing the adapter with power. If the AV device that you are connecting to has a USB socket, you can power the adapter that way or alternatively you use a provided USB plug. Finally, at the bottom, there is a pin hole for performing a factory reset and the WPS select button.

Setup

There are two ways of setting the WNCE3001 up and whilst one is simpler than the other, they are both very straightforward. The first option involves using Netgear's Push 'N' Connect feature which uses WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) which, if your router supports it, makes setup a matter of just pressing two buttons. All you need to do is connect the Ethernet port on the adapter to the corresponding port on your AV device and if possible connect the USB socket on the adapter to the USB socket on the AV device. If the device can’t provide power via a USB socket, then there is a USB wall plug that can be used instead. Netgear include both an Ethernet cable and a USB cable with the WNCE3001 but with both just under a metre in length you might need to invest in some longer cables. Once everything is connected, wait until the LED light is blinking green and then press the WPS button on the WNCE3001 and then push the WPS button on your router.

Netgear WNCE3001

Once you have done this, the WPS is in process and the LED light turns green for 500ms, then off for 500ms, the amber for 500ms and the off for 500ms continuously. When the WPS process is done, the LED light displays the link rate quality - if the LED is a solid green then the quality of the connection is good, if it is a solid amber then the quality is fair and if it’s a solid red, then the quality is poor.
If your router doesn’t support WPS, then the process is a little more complicated but not too onerous. You will essentially need to install the WNCE3001 on your computer by first disconnecting it from the router and removing any existing Ethernet cable. Then connect the WNCE3001 to your computer using the provided Ethernet cable and attach the other cable to a USB socket to power the adapter. Wait until the LED light is flashing green and then make sure the computer reads the IP address. Open your internet browser and it will automatically take you to the setup page, where you just follow the SmartWizard and connect the WNCE3001 adapter to your router. When this is complete you can disconnect the adapter from your computer and connect it to your Ethernet device. If the device doesn’t have a USB port you can use the provided plug to power the adapter.

Netgear WNCE3001
Netgear WNCE3001

The SmartWizard not only allows you to setup the WNCE3001 but it also gives you access to a fairly useful web-based user interface (WUI). You can use this WUI for setup of both the adapter, as well as a static IP address. There is also a very useful page that shows you the current status of the device, including the hardware and firmware versions and the link rate. Finally there are pages for backup settings, firmware updates and some advanced wireless settings.

Netgear WNCE3001
Netgear WNCE3001

The LED light at the top of the WNCE3001 adapter indicates a number of different conditions as well as the link rate quality already mentioned. If the LED light is off, the unit is obviously not powered and if the LED light is blinking red, it means the firmware is corrupt. If the LED light is blinking amber, then the system is booting up, has been reset or the firmware is being upgraded. Finally, if the LED light is flashing green then the boot up is complete but no wireless connection has been established.

Performance

In terms of specifications the WNCE3001 is a Dual-Band Wireless Internet Adapter that uses the latest 2.4 or 5 GHz standards to deliver the widest working range. It will work with either a single bank or dual-band wireless network and uses the IEEE 802.11n v2.0 standard, which provides you with networking speeds nearly six times faster than 802.11g and is backward-compatible with the 802.11b/g networking standard, allowing you to implement faster wireless technologies in combination with existing 802.11b/g Wi-Fi networks. The WNCE3001 adapter can work with any network enabled device with an Ethernet port and it is compatible with Internet Explorer 6.0, Firefox 2.0 or Safari 1.4, or higher, for software configuration. The included Ethernet port is 10/100 Mbps and the WNCE3001 includes WiFi Protected Access (WPA2-PSK and WPA-PSK) and WEP data encryption.

We connected the WNCE3001 to our wireless network and began running some tests and overall the adapter performed very well. Whilst it can deliver speeds higher than 100 Mbps, it’s worth remembering that the WNCE3001 only has a 10/100 Ethernet port, so its maximum speed will be limited to 100Mbps. To be honest this shouldn’t be a problem because the devices you will be connecting the WNCE3001 to are probably going to be TVs and Blu-ray players that don’t have built-in WiFi. These devices don’t tend to use a lot of bandwidth so 100 Mbps should be more than sufficient. The only exception might be game consoles and especially online gaming, although even then 100 Mbps should be sufficient given most people’s internet speeds. We tried using the adapter on devices in various places around our home environment and never had any problems with the integrity of the connection or the connection speeds. Overall we found the WNCE3001 to be a capable performer and a great choice for anyone looking to connect an older Ethernet device to a wireless network.

Verdict

7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Effective performance
  • Flexible power options

Cons

  • Quite large, especially with stand
  • Connections are on the base
  • 10/100 Ethernet Port might prove limiting

Netgear WNCE3001 Wireless Internet Adapter Review

The WNCE3001 wireless adapter is a glossy black wedge shape and quite large when compared to a normal WiFi dongle. It also has its connections on the bottom which seems a strange place to put them and requires the addition of an included stand if you want to use it upright. With the stand attached, the adapter is even bigger at 10cm high, so it isn’t very discrete and due to a lack of mass is a bit unstable. The connections are a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port, a mini-USB socket, a WPS button and a pin hole for performing a factory reset. At the top under the ventilation grille is a LED status light and the adapter comes with a USB and a Ethernet cable included, both of which are just under a metre in length.

As with a lot of Netgear products, set up of the WNCE3001 wireless adapter is simplicity itself, especially if your router supports WPS (WiFi Protected Setup). It is literally just a case of pressing the WPS button on the adapter and the WPS button on your router and leaving the two to pair up. If your router doesn’t support WPS then the setup is a little more complicated but thanks to the SmartWizard it is still very straightforward. The SmartWizard also provides a useful Web-based User Interface (WUI) that provides details on the status of the adapter, additional set up features and firmware updates.

In terms of specifications the WNCE3001 is a Dual-Band Wireless Internet Adapter that uses the latest 2.4 or 5 GHz standards to deliver the widest working range and uses the IEEE 802.11n v2.0 standard. The adapter can work with any network enabled device with an Ethernet port and it is compatible with Internet Explorer 6.0, Firefox 2.0 or Safari 1.4, or higher, for software configuration. The WNCE3001 performed very well when connected to our wireless network but whilst it can deliver higher speeds than 100 Mbps, it only has a 10/100 Ethernet port, so its maximum speed will obviously be 100Mbps. To be honest this shouldn’t be a problem because the devices you will be connecting probably won’t use a lot of bandwidth. The only exception might be game consoles and especially online gaming, although even then 100 Mbps should be sufficient given most people’s internet speeds. We tried using the adapter on devices in various places around our home environment and never had any problems with the integrity of the connection or the connection speeds.

Overall we found the WNCE3001 wireless adapter to be an easy to set up and capable performer, that makes a great choice for anyone looking to connect an older Ethernet device to a wireless network.

Recommended

Scores

Build Quality

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
.
7

Connectivity

.
.
.
7

Ease of Use

.
.
8

Connection Speed

.
.
.
7

.
.
.
7

.
.
.
7

Value for Money

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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