CenDyne Takes Wireless to the Game Console

CenDyne of Santa Ana, Calif., a maker of connectivity products for items like portable CD-RW drives, is releasing its first 802.11 products next week. The company concentrates on the home market, but its first Wi-Fi products won’t be the standard PC Cards and access points. Instead, they’re releasing two 802.11b Ethernet-to-Wireless adapters that are specifically for getting a Microsoft Xbox or Sony Playstation2 game console online.

“It’s a real rigmarole when you do networking to hook them up,” says Paul Goldberg, vice president of marketing at CenDyne. “None of the other products have very specific instructions for hooking up the game consoles.”

The other products he’s referring to are Ethernet-to-Wireless adapters from companies like D-Link, SMC, and Linksys. While most of these products will work with a game console — the are configured using a PC with an Ethernet jack, then plug into the embedded Ethernet jack on the console — they’re also meant to work on any product with Ethernet. CenDyne’s products, the CenDyne Wireless Xbox Network Adapter and CenDyne Wireless PS2 Network Adapter for PlayStation 2, target the game consoles exclusively.

The company, which resells in stores such as Circuit City, Costco, Fry’s, Radio Shack, and others, expects to sell the product in the same areas as the consoles themselves. Instructions in each will also be specific to the consoles.

Setup will require a Windows PC (with Win98 on up to XP) or Macintosh with an Ethernet card, and, of course, the presence of a wireless LAN on the network. The cards can get their IP address via DHCP . Configuration is actually done by connecting to a Web site set up by CenDyne. Goldberg says the Web-based Wizard takes about five minutes to run through. After that, plug it into the console using the included 10Mbps Ethernet cable and it should go online. The adapter uses separate AC power, and has a power button on the front so users don’t have to accidentally connect to the network if just playing a one person game.

PlayStation 2 games each have their own individual online components with their own individual monthly costs; Xbox users must sign up for the $50 Xbox Live program to go online with any games that support it. Xbox Live registration lasts for one year. Nintendo’s GameCube doesn’t come with a built-in Ethernet port.

CenDyne expects the shelf price of its wireless game console adapters to be $99.

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