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Going Wireless

I'm lucky to have a network drop located behind my entertainment center, but I suspect that's a bit rare. Fortunately, the MP115 supports 802.11 b/g wireless capabilities as well as wired. This allows you to put the device where you need it, without regard to network cables. To try this out, I disconnected my network cable and cycled the power on the box. When the box came up, it scanned for wireless access points. In my case, it found three (Figure 7).

Wireless Network scan results
Figure 7: Wireless Network scan results

I selected my access point and the MP115 brought up a configuration screen. My access point is configured using 128 bit WEP encryption, so I used the remote keypad to enter the key cell-phone style. It was a bit awkward, but it shouldn't be a daily experience. I did notice that the box would forget my wireless settings when switching back and forth from wired to wireless, so in my case, at least while I was testing, it was a common experience. Note that the device does not support the more secure WPA encryption, which is a serious omission.

My access point is in a bad location for best range, being located in my basement furnace room because that is where cable comes into the house. My entertainment center, where I used the device normally, is directly above the furnace room, so there was a wood floor between test AP and the MP115, but only about 6-7 feet of distance.

With this setup, I was able to watch a couple of full-length movies ripped from my DVD library over the wireless link without problems. At one point, I was even watching one while transferring another over the wireless link and I saw no glitches or artifacts!

For a range test, I moved the MP115 to a spot about 30 feet or so away, but with a floor and a couple of sheetrock walls between it and the basement AP. Note that the furnace room also has a lot of metal ductwork that was probably blocking and bouncing the wireless signals around.

In this location, I found that sound would stutter, and finally stop and quit to the selection menu. I also sometimes found menus to be non-responsive, as if no content could be fetched from the server. I tried a DVD-quality movie, which started to play, but then stopped and locked the box solid, requiring a power cycle.

In all, I judge the range of the MP115 to be comparable to other wireless devices I use in my house. It worked where I needed it, but had problems in locations in the remote corners of my house where I usually have signal loss. So if you want to run wirelessly, choose your location carefully. By the way, it would have been nice to have a detailed signal strength display during this testing or as an aid in determining AP / MP115 placement. The only signal strength display is in the initial access point selection menu (Figure 7) that only had rough signal quality settings.

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