Recommended Wireless USB Dongle?

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luger Offline
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Post: #1
Hey, I've been running XBMC Live (or XBMCbuntu now, I should say) for a few years with my network adapter plugged directly into my Acer Aspire Revo 1600. We're moving to a new place where that won't be possible so I'm looking into a wireless USB networking solution. I've seen some posts about models that people have had trouble with so I was wondering if there were any particular recommended models I should be looking for? Any recommendations on ones that work quickly out of the box would be great!

Thanks in advance...
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lrusak Offline
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Post: #2
I don't have any recievers to recommend but I can say that if none are available to use a powerline product such as these Link

or you can create a wireless bridge using DD-wrt firmware on routers but this is a more involved process

"PPC is too slow, your CPU has no balls to handle HD content." ~ davilla

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luger Offline
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Post: #3
Oh wow, I had no idea such technology existed. That's pretty awesome. I may try that.
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godfreydanials Offline
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The manufacturer and model number are not really important. The thing you need to find with the usb dongle is the chipset. I am running a Jetway nettop pc with an Atheros internal wireless N adaptor, advertised to run at 150 MbPS. I could only get maybe 70 MbPS with it. I bought a cheap ($9.50 with free shipping) 300 MbPS N adaptor from Newegg. I blacklisted the internal wireless chip and was able to get this new one working with no conflicts. It has this chipset:
Realtek Semiconductor Corp. RTL8191S WLAN Adapter

It was a pain to setup and I got acceptable performance with XBMCbuntu 10.10. I had occasional buffering (maybe once per movie), and the link quality averaged 82/100. I installed xbmc Eden RC2. After blacklisting the internal wireless chip, RC2 found the usb wireless and it was a breeze to configure. I now have an average link quality of 96/100 and no buffering.

I am sharing, via nfs, music and video over this wireless link. My thumbnails are on another wireless nfs share. I also have the music library and video library running on a remote mysql server over this same wifi link. All is well.

I recommend you read the specifications while you shop for a usb N dongle. From experience I can highly recommend the RTL8191S usb dongles.
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.:B:. Offline
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Post: #5
There's nothing better supported on Linux than the Atheros AR92xx chip (ath9k driver). TP-Link has a few sticks that use them, but you should always check the revision you're getting, since chips can change between revisions (different chip or even different manufacturer).

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luger Offline
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Post: #6
Thanks to you both. I'll see what I can find with those type of options.
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rodalpho Offline
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Post: #7
You're very unlikely to be happy with wireless streaming HD video, except maybe 5Ghz N with no major obstructions. You really want MOCA (network over coax cable) or powerline (network over your power cables).
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FishOil Offline
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(2012-03-23 05:57)rodalpho Wrote:  You're very unlikely to be happy with wireless streaming HD video, except maybe 5Ghz N with no major obstructions. You really want MOCA (network over coax cable) or powerline (network over your power cables).

I dont have 5Ghz N and stream 1080p bluray over wireless with no issues. Works fine. Nothing special.
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jw15851 Offline
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Post: #9
If you want to bridge, monoprice sells two very well reviewed wireless routers that also have bridging functionality. For those that don't know... The router is placed in bridge mode, and can join a wireless network just like a laptop would, and then the network is fed out the ethernet ports. The device (such as HTPC, Receiver, BluRay player, etc.) doesn't know the difference, it just sees a working network connection, when in fact it is passing over the WiFi network.

I use DDWRT at home, and it's great, but if you are only after bridging functionality, those devices I mentioned above are the cheapest I've seen it for (even considering the dedicated bridge hardware for xboxes, etc.) and you get multiple ports for several devices in your entertainment center. ($19 : 150Mbps or $24 : 300Mbps)

Hope that helps

-Jason
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rodalpho Offline
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(2012-03-23 14:07)FishOil Wrote:  I dont have 5Ghz N and stream 1080p bluray over wireless with no issues. Works fine. Nothing special.
I said unlikely, not impossible. If you live in a rural or suburban area without much interference and you get a clean signal, 2.4Ghz N can work.

The problem is that 2.4Ghz service is highly variable. In an apartment building when your neighbor uses his microwave, or answers a call on his cordless phone, etc, your wireless can step way down in speed or even drop out for a couple seconds. Same deal with overlap, with 5 or 6 other networks on the same channel, your signal strength can vary from second to second. I can ignore that stuff while web browsing, but watching a video, the constant buffering drove me crazy.

It's always better to go wired when possible.
(This post was last modified: 2012-03-23 18:34 by rodalpho.)
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.:B:. Offline
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Post: #11
If the original poster wants to stream Full HD Blu-Ray rips, then there's only one sane solution, and that's a wired network. Powerline might work, but you have to be lucky with the adapter and the electric wiring; same goes for wireless - all your devices have to support the full 802.11n spec (be it 2,4 GHz or 5 GHz) and signal conditions have to be excellent.

* Netgear WNDR3700, OpenWrt Attitude Adjustment 12.09.1 :: HP Procurve V1410-8G switch
* OpenELEC 4 b3: HTPC Zotac Nano AD10 with Pulse-Eight CEC adapter, Sony KDL52-NX800 :: Desktop Phenom II X4 980 BE / AMD HD6950 / 23" Dell Full HD
* Debian Jessie x86_64: Celeron G1610, HTTP/NFS/MySQL/ZFS server
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nooryani84 Offline
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Post: #12
(2012-03-23 18:33)rodalpho Wrote:  
(2012-03-23 14:07)FishOil Wrote:  I dont have 5Ghz N and stream 1080p bluray over wireless with no issues. Works fine. Nothing special.
I said unlikely, not impossible. If you live in a rural or suburban area without much interference and you get a clean signal, 2.4Ghz N can work.

The problem is that 2.4Ghz service is highly variable. In an apartment building when your neighbor uses his microwave, or answers a call on his cordless phone, etc, your wireless can step way down in speed or even drop out for a couple seconds. Same deal with overlap, with 5 or 6 other networks on the same channel, your signal strength can vary from second to second. I can ignore that stuff while web browsing, but watching a video, the constant buffering drove me crazy.

It's always better to go wired when possible.

In any case you can reduce the transmit power for the wireless to reduce the overlap, change the channel, use 5 Ghz, move your router etc. There's plenty you can do to enhance even a poor signal. I have probably about 10 networks in my apartment and don't have any buffering issues with wireless N really. 300 Mbps \o/
(2012-03-23 23:40).:B:. Wrote:  If the original poster wants to stream Full HD Blu-Ray rips, then there's only one sane solution, and that's a wired network. Powerline might work, but you have to be lucky with the adapter and the electric wiring; same goes for wireless - all your devices have to support the full 802.11n spec (be it 2,4 GHz or 5 GHz) and signal conditions have to be excellent.

You'll have to use expensive powerline adapters, in which case it might be just as cheap to pay someone to do the internal wiring for your network.

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(This post was last modified: 2012-03-24 01:39 by nooryani84.)
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rodalpho Offline
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Post: #13
5Ghz maybe, if it's not too far away (5Ghz has much less range). 2.4Ghz is very unlikely to work streaming HD in an urban area with lots of other transmitters in range.
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luger Offline
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Post: #14
(2012-03-23 23:40).:B:. Wrote:  If the original poster wants to stream Full HD Blu-Ray rips, then there's only one sane solution, and that's a wired network. Powerline might work, but you have to be lucky with the adapter and the electric wiring; same goes for wireless - all your devices have to support the full 802.11n spec (be it 2,4 GHz or 5 GHz) and signal conditions have to be excellent.

Well, I don't do any heavy streaming. I use Transmission WebUI to download torrents directly onto the computer (Revo 1600) and I understand this may cause a drop in speed. Aside from that, I only really stream baseball games from the MLB.TV app and that's it for streaming.

I've looked for some adapters with the chipsets that others have recommended but can't find anything. Is there anyone who is using a wireless adapter that they can tell me works well? I'd do the powerline option but my wife isn't keen on spending $100+ to get this working so I'm really hoping I can find a USB wireless adapter that is fairly inexpensive and fairly easy to set up.
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vikjon0 Offline
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Post: #15
1) Find random USB adaptor
2) Google: <random adaptor> works on on Ubuntu?
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