Sony PCWA-DE30 wireless Ethernet converter review: Sony PCWA-DE30 wireless Ethernet converter

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MSRP: $169.99

The Good Easy setup; versatile design; automatic MDI and MDI-X switching.

The Bad Weak performance; limited range; short, one-year warranty; no full manual.

The Bottom Line Sony's converter makes it easy to add Ethernet-enabled devices to a home wireless network, but its performance was disappointing.

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7.0 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Support 7

Sony's PCWA-DE30 wireless Ethernet converter connects anything with an Ethernet port--such as a print server, a video camera, or a gaming console--to your home's wireless network. Setup is easy; in fact, it's practically automatic if you already own Sony's PCWA-AR300 wireless router. The converter's two-part design gives you a lot of flexibility in locating and positioning the all-important antenna. Unfortunately, the converter's throughput was disappointing in our tests. If performance is as important to you as ease of use, we recommend the more capable Linksys WET54G.

The PCWA-DE30's unique two-part design consists of a square radio that's connected by a 10-foot Cat-5 cable to a power unit that has a 2-foot AC cord. This separation lets you set the power unit next to the device that you want to connect and place your radio and antenna up to 10 feet away, to optimize signal strength, reduce desk clutter, or satisfy aesthetics.

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Use the Setup button to automatically clone network settings from a Sony router.

If you already have a Sony PCWA-AR300 router, setting up the PCWA-DE30 is nearly effortless. Connect the two with an Ethernet cable, press the Setup button on each device, and the PCWA-DE30 clones the settings. The PCWA-DE30 also conveniently senses and switches between MDI (straight-through) and MDI-X (crossover) cable modes; on other products, such as Linksys's WET54G, you have to flip a switch.

Connecting it to another vendor's product is just slightly harder; you must install the included Setup Utility on a connected PC and configure the converter manually. We'd prefer a browser-based configuration tool that requires no installation and can be accessed from other PCs on the network.

The Sony wireless Ethernet converter offers most of the same features and security options you'll find in comparable devices, but it generally falls short of providing the most advanced options. The most noticeable example is the single, large, hypnotically pulsing indicator located on its front panel. It turns blue to show signal quality, red for failure, and pink to indicate the peer-to-peer mode. Unfortunately, it doesn't communicate additional information that advanced and professional users would want, such as traffic level or collision activity. The utility has handy features, such as a pop-up signal-strength meter, and it's easy to access its configuration tools for network settings such as SSID, IP address, and security. However, it lacks more advanced features that you'll find on some competitors, such as the Linksys WET54G, including the ability to add multiple WEP keys.

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