July 18, 2007 - With the exception of the Xbox 360, the current generation of game systems are all capable of going online wirelessly right out of the box. All that's needed is a wireless router and, honestly, a little bit of know-how. But even if you're a tech head sometimes a little plug and play is all you really want…and that's why we're really excited about what Buffalo's going to be releasing next month: the Wi-Fi Gamer.
Buffalo might be a familiar name to those already going online with the Nintendo DS or Wii using the Nintendo USB Wi-Fi adapter. That's because Buffalo worked with Nintendo on the USB adapter so that PC owners running Windows XP could get their Nintendo systems online as seamlessly as possible.
Buffalo has also established the AOSS (AirStation OneTouch Secure System) standard for its networking products, which allows for devices to link wirelessly and securely with a single push of a button. But the company's more successful in Japan than it is in the US - Buffalo counts for about 60 percent of the Japanese market when it comes to wireless routers, but it barely scratches the surface in the US.
Because the company is dominant in Japan, it has worked closely with both Nintendo and Sony on the Nintendo DS, Wii, Sony PSP and PlayStation 3 wireless connectivities - all of these systems feature the AOSS push-button connectivity.
To capitalize on this already inherent system capability, Buffalo will be releasing the Buffalo Wi-Fi Gamer device in the US next month, and the company stopped by our office to show how it works. This wireless adapter, about the size of a pack of cards, doesn't need a PC at all - it simply plugs into an available port on an existing LAN. Once connected, you just press the "connect" button on the unit, then the AOSS function on the DS, PSP, PS3 and Wii, and after about 45 seconds of syncing up the game systems are connected and ready to go online.
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Looks big up close, but it's only about the size of a deck of cards.
The Nintendo DS system works right out of the box with the device since the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection interface was built with it from the start. The PSP firmware has been supporting the AOSS standard since February 2007, and the PlayStation 3 began supporting it more recently, so as long as you're up to date you're ready to go. Otherwise, you'll need to get online in a more traditional way and download the latest system software. Currently only Japanese Wii systems support AOSS, but all that's needed is a firmware update for non-Japanese systems - Buffalo hopes that Nintendo will push that firmware update in the US by the time the Wi-Fi Gamer's ready to ship.
The unit will ship in August for about $49.99 to $59.99, which isn't a bad deal at all considering the Nintendo USB adapter currently retails for $39.99 and only supports Nintendo systems…and requires a Windows PC with Internet Sharing active. It will support multiple connected devices (trackable via a two-line LCD screen) and have a range comparable to most 802.11g devices.
We'll have a full review of the device when it ships.
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