There's nothing worse than network cables trailed all around your room, yet alone around the house and across the living room, and because of this it's no surprise that the popularity of wireless networks is on the rise.


Photo showing the four Wireless Adapters tested


We've taken a look at some of the leading wireless adapters currently on the market, in a group-test which has seen the devices in use with the Xbox and PlayStation 2 during several weeks of testing.

Netgear WGE101
Netgear's WGE101 is considerably more expensive than some options, with an RRP of just over 100, but when you consider that it's got support for both 54mbps 802.11g and 11mbps 802.11b - although if you are limited by the speed of your broadband connection then just 11mbps is plenty enough.


Inside the box and photo of Wireless Adapter


The device has a good sturdy feel to it and is finished to a very high standard, looking the most stylish of all the wireless game adapters that we've seen. It is however quite large - as big in fact as the fully featured Netgear Wireless Access points and routers.

Buy the Netgear WGE111 from Amazon.co.uk (updated model)

Asus WL-330
Small doesn't really describe the WL-330 well enough - it's absolutely tiny when you consider that the device isn't just a wireless adapter, but it's also a fully featured access point and bridge/repeater. The whole unit is designed for portability and comes complete with a small-form power adapter, velcro tie to keep the power and ethernet cables tidy, and a case to store it in when you're on the move.


Inside the box and photo of Wireless Adapter


Despite only having support for 802.11b at 11mpbs and not 802.11g it's an absolute bargain at only 30. However we're disappointed with the seemingly cheap feel which the device has due to the very lightweight plastic casing which it is housed in - no doubt this was designed to be how it is to help with the portability, which the WL-330 is unrivalled, but it all feels a bit too delicate compared with some of the other adapters we tested.

Buy the Asus WL330 from Amazon.co.uk

Linksys Wireless-B Game Adapter
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Wireless-B Game Adapter is a walkie-talkie at first glance, as it's got some similar looking features in its rugged design, such as a push button on one side, and an LED display showing you which channel number it's tuned to. Despite appearing toy-like, it is actually a very impressive adapter which stands up well against any of the other device that we tested, and because of the channel selection button and display it's a breeze to get working.


Inside the box and photo of Wireless Adapter


There are two small plastic "feet" included in the box with the Wireless-B adapter, although it's not really too clear if they're anything more than a bit of styling to make it look like a PlayStation standing vertical - it certainly wouldn't matter if the adapter fell over on it's side, so the feet seem like an un-necessary addition, as does the unidirectional aerial, which considering the Asus adapter has it internally, it'd have been nice for the Linksys product to do the same.

Buy the Linksys WGA11B from Amazon.co.uk

Linksys Wireless-G Game Adapter
Looking somewhat more stylish than its chunky little Wireless-B brother, Linksys' 54mbps adapter has all of the features of the earlier device but at a much higher speed. As with the Netgear's WGE101 it supports both 11mbps and 54mbps, although with your home broadband connection being nowhere near that fast, it's debatable if you really need a 54mbps wireless adapter.


Inside the box and photo of Wireless Adapter


The Wireless-G certainly looks more business like, and wouldn't look out of place alongside other electrical equipment in the livingroom. Configuration didn't seem quite as easy as the cheaper 802.11b adapter, but with both of the Linksys options it's clear that the gamer has been the main consideration when developing the products and lots of technical know-how isn't expected, or really required.

Buy the Linksys WGA54G from Amazon.co.uk

Verdict...
For simplicity of setting up, the Linksys Wireless-B Game Adapter stood out as being the best option for gamers wanting hassle free configuration of an adapter for your console - and don't we all? But of course you'll still be stuck with setting up a wireless access point which might take a bit more effort in comparison. For the extra money and possibly future-proofing the Wireless-G adapter might be a better move, and the ability to direct the aerial on both the more advanced Linksys and Netgear adapters may come in useful in certain locations.

Overall the Asus WL-330 wins in terms of value for money and features - the fact that it's not only a wireless adapter but also a full access point and repeater makes the device really stand out as being a handy piece of kit to own, at a reasonable price. What does let it down however is that it's only 11mbps (but that's still 22 times faster than most home broadband connections) and the fact that the included ethernet cable is ridiculously short.