It's great that the new line Blu-ray players support BD Live and online content to compliment the movies. It's also great that their firmware can be updated over the internet. What I don't understand is why all the Blu-ray players I've seen rely on an Ethernet connection for internet access. I don't know of too many people that have Ethernet drops near their TV's. My bedroom is a perfect example. I have a Sony Bravia LCD TV and Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player connected to it. It's located in a nice wall unit and unfortunately there is no ethernet jack nearby.
The Solution: An Ethernet Wi-Fi Bridge
I've used D-Link Wireless Ethernet Bridges in years past to connect older computers that had Ethernet, but not Wi-Fi. Once again I was in need of one of these bridges. My old one only supported 802.11b and I can't find it. I at least wanted 802.11b/g support. So I started looking at newer models. I was floored by how much these things have gone up in price. It appears that they are now geared towards gamers. Most hardcore gamers want to play others online. This means that your game console has to be connected to the internet and we're back to the same problem that most people don't have Ethernet jacks near their TV's. The Wii and PS3 have Wi-Fi built-in. However, some of the older consoles do not. So companies like Linksys and D-Link have come to the rescue with "wireless gaming adapters." These "gaming adapters" (Ethernet Wi-Fi Bridges) now go for close to $100. I can remember when they were half that price.Â Well I needed one of these Bridges, but didn't want to pay top dollar for one. So off to eBay I went. I found a D-Link DWL-G810 Wireless Ethernet Bridge New in the Box for a winning bid of $51. This model is newer than my old one (which I can't find) and supports 802.11b/g.
How does a Wireless Ethernet Bridge work?
The concept is simple. The Bridge has an Ethernet jack on it and of course a power adapter. You plug it into your computer's Ethernet port long enough to set it up. This means setting it up to join your current wireless (Wi-Fi) network, network name (SSID) and network password. Once it's setup (about 5 minutes), you unplug it from your computer and plug it into your Ethernet only device. In my case this was my Sony Blu-ray player. That's it! Your Blu-ray player will connect to the internet wirelessly even though it only has an Ethernet jack. The Bridge will bridge your Wi-Fi connection to the Ethernet port on your player.
The Bottom Line
Blu-ray player manufacturers need to either build Wi-Fi in or at least provide a low cost Wi-Fi adapter like TiVo does for the TiVo HD. In the meantime if you want to connect your Ethernet only device to your network and don't want to run wires your best bet is a Wireless Ethernet Bridge. If you shop around you can find one at bargain prices. Check out the latest offerings from D-Link, Linksys and Netgear, but don't forget about eBay. Also to the Bridge manufacturers, why are these things designed to be so, um, ugly?
I wrote this 2 years ago and while not much has changed in terms of the need to put Ethernet devices on your WiFi network, the solutions have changed as well as my recommendation. Recently I've started using TiVo's Wireless N Network Adapter and while you would think that this is specifically for TiVo, the reality is it's NOT! It's a slick little 802.11n Bridge that connects to your device via Ethernet. The setup is simple and you first plug it into your computer to get it setup on your wireless network. After that is done (takes less than 5 minutes), you can then plug it into any device that has an Ethernet port to put it online via your WiFi Network. Once it's set up the TiVo Adapter has no idea whether it's plugged into a TiVo or Blu-ray player or computer.