With time off from work over the 2014 holiday season, I had too much time on my hands. I'm one of those people that can't sit still for 5 minutes. I want to, I just can't. If you have tips for doing so, please let me know. And, when I'm feeling antsy, I usually take a run or two. I did that. I ended up capping my biggest mileage month ever, but still had plenty of time to spare. So, I started to dig into doing other things.
One of the things I had been planning to do was to move one of our larger screen TVs to the basement. The project included hooking up one of our Xbox 360's in the workout room to finally have enough area space to do workouts using Kinect or to stream Netflix during exercise routines. The one piece I was missing was network connectivity. I could have just run another new network cable from one of the home routers, but decided instead to see if I could find a cheap, wireless network adapter for the Xbox 360. What I ended up with is the Vonetx VAR11N Mini Wifi router.
During my research (mostly Amazon.com), the VAR11N seemed to me to be an unsure bet, but the reviews were glowing. Except for a few folks hung up on poor instructions and a company web site that is hard to navigate, most shared positive feedback. So, I took the plunge. I've always had trouble with non-Microsoft WiFi adapters for the Xbox 360, but for just $16.50, I was fully willing to give it a go.
Despite a horrid set of instructions, clearly written for Engrish people, I was amazed at the depth of function and reliability of the Vonets VAR11N Mini Wifi router. Just like any network device on the market today, there's a web-based login where you can configure the VAR11N for your various needs. It can act as either a full WiFi router or as a WiFi bridge, supplying a WiFi network connection to computers and devices that are not already WiFi capable.
Altering the settings to Bridge mode and providing my home network credentials, the connection was instantaneous and the Xbox 360 was on the network. I was completely shocked and surprised at how well it actually worked, so I tested it against other devices and it proved equally stellar. In fact, I was a bit ashamed that it seemed to outperform the built-in WiFi capability of my Surface Pro 3.
The VAR11N is small and light. Shown just below, it's no bigger than a tin of mints.
The unit has a button on one side that allows you to either reset the device back to defaults or quickly change the operating mode. An AC power port is supplied (but no power adapter included), but works best when powered by the USB port (labeled LAN).
As you can see in the following photo, the cable supplied allows you to simply connect to the LAN port on the VAR11N and then connect to the USB port (for power) and network port on the device you want to give WiFi capability.
Maybe it's my shock at how such a cost-worthy device soundly beat my expectations, but the VAR11N is a solid device and I'm truly happy with it. So much so that I bought a couple more to keep around. The size and weight make for a travel-worthy companion and I could see keeping some on hand for those times when a laptop's WiFi is buggy or broken by a driver update.
For around $16.50, you can't go wrong with this one.
It's available on Amazon.com: Vonets VAR11N Mini Wifi Bridge Dongle Wireless Access Points AP
There's also a VAP11N model that does a bit more by adding repeater capability, increased connections, and improved distance. The VAP11N is only around $22, so I'll probably end up trying this one out, too.