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Wi-Fi or Powerline?


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#1 of 27 MattPeriolat

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Posted January 04 2010 - 04:44 AM

I find myself in a bit of a pickle. I got a new Blu-Ray player for Christmas, but not my family is debating if we should upgrade it to a Wi-FI version and get a wireless router for the internet to access Blu-Ray or stick with what we have and get a powerline converter kit to send the signal through the existing electrical outlets.

I've been told wireless is not all it's cracked up to be with signal loss, plus it could be expensive, given we'd be talking about replacing the player, getting a wireless router and the fact that the system will be in two different rooms about 24 feet apart. Powerline seems better, given at the most it would cost me (if I understand this correctly) three Ethernet cables, a router to split the signal between my existing router/modem and the powerline converter kit.

So... honestly, which is better? This is all about having it set up so I can both get firmware updates for my Blu-Ray (Sony BDP-BX2) and doing Blu-Ray live, but both require a stable signal. Oh and the powerline kit would need to be Mac compatable, as would the router.

Suggestions?

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#2 of 27 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted January 04 2010 - 05:14 AM

Caveat 1:  I've never used powerline networking and know nothing about it 

Caveat 2:  I get my broadband service from the phone company, so I didn't need to buy a wireless router to get wireless networking.  Wireless is built into the DSL modem/router/gateway/firewall.

I have an Insignia (Best Buy's house brand) player with built-in wireless.  No dongles, routers, external switches or other optional equipment required.  I got it for Netflix and BD live, because I prefer using a USB flash drive or burned CD for firmware updates.  I get excellent signal strength on my wireless network have never had a single "real" problem with it.   However, I have noticed that 90% of the time when I first fire it up, it will display a message showing that I don't have a network connection and telling me to press the red button for the network setup wizard.  This is because the device needs time to detect the network connection, just as it needs time to detect the USB drive I leave connected for BD Live.  (Usually the USB drive is detected, and a few seconds later the "Connected" symbol appears as the network is found.)  Sometimes it detects both so quickly that I never see any messages. 

On very rare occasion, the "no network" message remains on the screen.  Now from what I've seen on the Insignia message board, this leads an awful lot of people to panic and run the network test, which naturally shows no network and 0.0.0.0 for the IP address, default gateway, DNS source, etc.  Then they run the network wizard, manually re-enter all the values and complain that the Insignia won't retain the wireless network info.  In my experience waiting for a maximum of 2 minutes will generally produce a connection automatically.  And if that doesn't work, rebooting the player has always restored the connection.  I have never had to redo the network setup since I've had the player, and I've never had the connection drop once it was established.  I suspect that a lot of the reputation wireless Blu-Rays have for connection issues comes down to impatient users who are used to everything happening instantly.  But that's just a theory. 

BTW, the Insignia lists for $179.99 and has been sold for as little as $119.99.  (I paid $129.99 the day before Thanksgiving.) 

Regards,

Joe

#3 of 27 MattPeriolat

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Posted January 04 2010 - 05:38 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph DeMartino 

Caveat 1:  I've never used powerline networking and know nothing about it 

Caveat 2:  I get my broadband service from the phone company, so I didn't need to buy a wireless router to get wireless networking.  Wireless is built into the DSL modem/router/gateway/firewall.

I have an Insignia (Best Buy's house brand) player with built-in wireless.  No dongles, routers, external switches or other optional equipment required.  I got it for Netflix and BD live, because I prefer using a USB flash drive or burned CD for firmware updates.  I get excellent signal strength on my wireless network have never had a single "real" problem with it.   However, I have noticed that 90% of the time when I first fire it up, it will display a message showing that I don't have a network connection and telling me to press the red button for the network setup wizard.  This is because the device needs time to detect the network connection, just as it needs time to detect the USB drive I leave connected for BD Live.  (Usually the USB drive is detected, and a few seconds later the "Connected" symbol appears as the network is found.)  Sometimes it detects both so quickly that I never see any messages. 

On very rare occasion, the "no network" message remains on the screen.  Now from what I've seen on the Insignia message board, this leads an awful lot of people to panic and run the network test, which naturally shows no network and 0.0.0.0 for the IP address, default gateway, DNS source, etc.  Then they run the network wizard, manually re-enter all the values and complain that the Insignia won't retain the wireless network info.  In my experience waiting for a maximum of 2 minutes will generally produce a connection automatically.  And if that doesn't work, rebooting the player has always restored the connection.  I have never had to redo the network setup since I've had the player, and I've never had the connection drop once it was established.  I suspect that a lot of the reputation wireless Blu-Rays have for connection issues comes down to impatient users who are used to everything happening instantly.  But that's just a theory. 

BTW, the Insignia lists for $179.99 and has been sold for as little as $119.99.  (I paid $129.99 the day before Thanksgiving.) 

Regards,

Joe
My connection service is run through AT&T, so it's through the phone line, so same deal of having a router/modem all in one. Just have little adapters plugged in so my phones will work. Asked them about adding another connection port, but they said that would require a whole other phone line.

As I said, I'm a complete networking neophyte, so whatever advice is offered is under consideration. Just gotta make sure it's all Mac compatable and I'll eventually dig my way out of the hole it's going to blow in the wallet.


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#4 of 27 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted January 04 2010 - 05:42 AM

Check your current service plan and see if AT&T can switch you to a modem with a wireless router built in.  The plan I was paying for included this and they just shipped me one at no charge when I asked.  They did the same for my sister.  Now here's my problem - I'm an IT guy but my entire professional career has been spent in 100% WinTel shops.  I've only played around with a Mac a few times and know nothing about Mac networking.  But as far as I can tell both the AT&T stuff and most wireless networking options support Macs with little or no trouble. 

Regards,

Joe

#5 of 27 Stephen_J_H

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Posted January 04 2010 - 06:03 AM

My basement's undeveloped (where my HT is), so I solved the problem by swapping out the phone jack plate next to my router for one that included an ethernet jack, then running a 30ft cable across the ceiling to my HT. I then plugged a 3 ft cat 5 cable into my wireless gateway (modem+wired/wireless router/switch) and ran that to the wall plug. Total cost? About $40 Cdn, and that was paying The Source (former Radio Shack) prices. If you have access to your wiring in a similar fashion to what I have, this may be the way to go.
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#6 of 27 Scott Merryfield

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Posted January 04 2010 - 06:40 AM

Stephen's suggestion of running a Cat5 cable, if you have a cable path available, is definitely the simplest. Also, if you need to expand the number of devices requiring network access from your home theater at a later date, you can always purchase a cheap ethernet switch ($20) to attach to the Cat5 cable at your HT end.

In my case, I went the wireless route. However, (1) I already had a wireless router/firewall installed for my wife's PC (it's upstairs and would have been a pain to run cable), (2) data networking is my profession, so I am very comfortable with the technology, and (3) I found a Netgear wireless print server cheap ($30) that functions perfectly as a wireless bridge, allowing me to have four ethernet ports available in my home theater rack. I am using one port for the BD player, and a second for the Pioneer Elite receiver.


#7 of 27 MattPeriolat

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Posted January 04 2010 - 07:33 AM

Well, waiting for AT&T to get back to me and know my options. I have to know if whatever they provide for networking will be compatable with whatever I plan on doing. Once I know what those choices are, then I need to save up the money, since either way, this is going to hurt a bit financially.

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#8 of 27 Adam Gregorich

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Posted January 04 2010 - 07:51 AM

Thankfully when we built our house a few years ago we put in enough network jacks everywhere, and I haven't had to put in any additional switches beyond the 48 port one in my wiring closet. I would have no problem using wireless for BD-Live or other streamed content, but I would be really leery about using it for firmware updates.



#9 of 27 mylan

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Posted January 04 2010 - 08:52 AM

I like Joseph's idea about using a burned CD or a usb drive for firmware updates, that would negate the need to network anything unless you want BD live and would most certainly be the least expensive way to go.
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#10 of 27 MattPeriolat

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Posted January 04 2010 - 09:05 AM

True, a 2GB drive costs 10 dollars versus a setup that could run much much higher.

Surprised to hear that no one else has tried doing it through the power lines. Love to hear some reports on how that has ended up working out. For now, this is not something that needs to be done posthaste, but I'm licking my finger and trying to see which way the wind is blowing.

Another suggestion I've heard is just doing a hardwire ethernet line from the router the 25 feet from my office to the blu-ray player either along the ground or under the house. Not too crazy about that option since cable can be expensive and I have a cat who might take a liking to the cable.

Keep the suggestions coming, I'm considering all options at this point.

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#11 of 27 mylan

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Posted January 04 2010 - 09:16 AM

You are correct in that it isn't something you need to do right away, I hate to admit this but I've had my Sony S350 since last Christmas and have not updated the firmware yet!

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#12 of 27 Michael Reuben

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Posted January 04 2010 - 11:17 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by MattPeriolat 

Surprised to hear that no one else has tried doing it through the power lines.

 
You only started the thread seven hours ago. /img/vbsmilies/htf/smiley_wink.gif

Anyway, now you've heard from someone who does powerline. But that's because I was already doing powerline networking long before a Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player entered the picture. I live in an old building that isn't wired for ethernet and that has walls too numerous and too thick for reliable wi-fi from one end to the other, at least without a lot of access points. So I've been using powerline units to get internet access to various rooms, and it's an acceptable, if occasionally quirky, alternative. But a lot depends on the wiring in your home, and you just don't know how it's going to work until you try.

I'm currently using Netgear's HDXB111 units. I'm not sure whether they still make them, but I'm sure they have an equivalent. I've generally found Netgear's stuff to be the most reliable and easiest to use. I currently have four units: one feeding off the DSL modem, one connected to the Blu-ray player, one connected to the HD Tivo, and one at the far end of the apartment providing internet access via a secondary router.

I've done firmware upgrades with no problem, and the only troubles I have with BD-Live are caused by the content providers, not by the connection.

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#13 of 27 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted January 04 2010 - 02:14 PM


Quote:
 I would have no problem using wireless for BD-Live or other streamed content, but I would be really leery about using it for firmware updates.
I wouldn't be any more concerned about a wireless than a wired firmware download (or one via powerline, for that matter.).  In both cases the update file is downloaded completely before it is installed, so there is no danger of the connection dropping while the update itself is in progress.  And with error correction it is unlikely there will be a problem with the file.  I just prefer going the USB route because I like to be extra careful.  /img/vbsmilies/htf/biggrin.gif  It removes the act of downloading the file from the device to be updated and I generally find that to be the best way to go.  (And it lets me have the player boot off the USB - again, by-passing its own networking because the USB loads before the network does.  The network doesn't engage until the next reboot, after the firmware is updated.) 

Regards,

Joe


#14 of 27 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted January 04 2010 - 03:07 PM

Unless you've already tried BD-Live and like it, IMHO, there's definitely no rush to get that set up for your Sony player.  Having BD-Live enabled will probably just make load times intolerably slow for quite a few titles w/out offering a whole lot in terms of quality features.

I recently picked up a Panny BD60, set it up w/out internet access, and have not missed BD-Live access at all so far (after spending 2 years using a PS3 w/ WiFi setup).  In fact, I'm very glad that load times are quite reasonable even for certain notoriously slow loading BD-Live titles.  And IIRC, your Sony performs similarly to the BD60 in terms of load times and such.

I will probably just use a USB drive, CD or similar to do firmware updates for my BD60 in the future.  No desire to go thru the hassle of setting up network access for it at this point.

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#15 of 27 Scott Merryfield

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Posted January 05 2010 - 12:05 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by MattPeriolat 

Another suggestion I've heard is just doing a hardwire ethernet line from the router the 25 feet from my office to the blu-ray player either along the ground or under the house. Not too crazy about that option since cable can be expensive and I have a cat who might take a liking to the cable.

 
That is exactly what Stephen suggested in post #5, and this would certainly be a less expensive solution than using power line adapters.


#16 of 27 MattPeriolat

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Posted January 05 2010 - 04:09 AM

Lots of great suggestions so far, guys. I'm very grateful.

As to the powerline adapters, I assume they're going to work regardless of what I'm using since all they do is work as access points for ethernet, not working with the Mac. Unfortunately, the only one I'm seeing that looks "good" is the one provided by Monster and I know people already HATE how much they charge for their cables, so I'm assuming this is overpriced as well (250 dollars for the two access points).

As to routers, what is the reputation for D-Link routers, since, aside from an Mac Airport, I'm not sure what else would work with my Mac.

I will say, as a stopgap, I'm looking at a Sony 2GB Flash Drive. Costs like 10 bucks and I'll need it for the eventual networking anyway.

Anything else you got, I'm still listening.

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#17 of 27 Scott Merryfield

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Posted January 05 2010 - 04:33 AM

Wi-Fi is just a catchy name for the 802.11 wireless standard. Any wireless router should support your Mac. I would get at minimum an 802.11b/g router (802.11n is nice, but not required) with WPA/WPA2 authentication support. I am not a Mac person, but I assume Apple supports the industry standard WPA/WPA2 for authentication.

I recently purchased a Netgear wireless firewall/router with the above features for about $30 (my old Dlink died).


#18 of 27 Parker Clack

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Posted January 05 2010 - 06:55 AM

Matt:

I have an XBox upstairs that I use as a Media Center Extender. I also have a wireless D link router and wireless hub. I tried using a wireless connection for the XBox but got a really poor connection no matter what (both the transmitter and the router are wireless N). So I got the Netgear powerline system and it works without a hitch. The speed I am getting is about a good as having it hooked up directly via Cat 5 and couldn't be happier. If your router from AT&T has any ethernet connection on the back you just plug in one powerline into a wall socket and an ethernet cable from it to your router. Then plug the other powerline into an electrical outlet near your Blu-ray and connect the two via an ethernet cable. Wa la. Nothing to set up or configure.

Having said that I would just keep what you have an save your money. Firmware updates can be done via CD and BD Live isn't all the great for me. You might get more mileage out of it but I personally have no use for it. If you decide to upgrade your Blu-ray player get one with an ethernet connection so it can connect to the web and then get a powerline device like the Netgear. Here is a link at Best Buy for the Netgear.
 
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#19 of 27 DavidJ

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Posted January 05 2010 - 09:04 AM

As a user of powerline adapters, I thought I'd chime in here.  In my case, they have worked very well and provided an easy and more cost effective solution than running cables.  I'm using Netgear XAV101s and they work great, but as was pointed out a lot depends on your house wiring.



#20 of 27 Michael Reuben

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Posted January 05 2010 - 10:11 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by MattPeriolat 

As to the powerline adapters, I assume they're going to work regardless of what I'm using
Why would you assume that? It's certainly not been my experience.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MattPeriolat 

Unfortunately, the only one I'm seeing that looks "good" is the one provided by Monster and I know people already HATE how much they charge for their cables, so I'm assuming this is overpriced as well (250 dollars for the two access points).
 
What looks "good" about the Monster unit? What possible reason would you have to go with a company that doesn't specialize in networking hardware?

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