Hey Dave! I have a Sony PSP and was wondering if I buy a wireless base station how do you set it up and are there any programs that i have to install?
There’s nothing you have to install, but you’re right in thinking that you need to buy something and do some configuration.
First off you really need to have broadband of some sort for this to work, whether it’s a cable modem connection or DSL from your telecom provider. Without that, most access points just can’t function (with the notable exception of the darn expensive Apple Airport base station, which has a built-in modem and can work with dialup services last I checked).
If you do have that higher speed network connection, odds are very, very good that you have it configured like this:
cable or DSL line into your house
your computer directly via an Ethernet cable
When we move into the world of wireless networking and wifi, you’re going to have to change that configuration because the access point / base station has to be in the loop too. Here’s how I have mine set up:
Wifi base stations (access points, they’re the same thing. Just multiple names to confuse us. “802.11” is the same thing too, for that matter) come with cables, so that’s not an issue. Further, you’ll find that the wifi base station will also likely serve as a DHCP server, so you’ll have a new level of protection from nefarious hackers trying to sneak into your computer with cracking software.
What I personally recommend is that you get a wireless access point that’s also a router so that you can plug more than one computer into it. They’re only $10 or $20 more expensive, but give you expansion space, the ability for friends to plug an Ethernet cable in and use your network while you are too, and generally improve the flexibility of the system.
I have an eight-port router built into my Linksys base station and I have eight different Ethernet devices plugged in, believe it or not. Three computers, a network-based printer, a VOIP interface that lets me use my Vbuzzer Internet-based telephone line with a regular phone, and more. Very helpful!
So what exactly should you buy when you’re ready to purchase a base station and set up a wireless network? I recommend that you get an 802.11g system, which offers much higher speed (and complete backwards compatibility) than the older 802.11b network. The latter is more common, but the “g” protocol is really the up and coming system and hopefully that’s what’ll be in the next generation Sony PSP when released later this year too. The 802.11b access points are probably a bit less expensive, however.
Digging around Amazon.com, here are a few exemplary units:
- Linksys BEFW11S4 Wireless-B Cable/DSL Router – Currently $47 with free shipping, this is a slower 802.11b access point device, but does include four Ethernet plugs in the back of the unit, which is good flexibility at a very low price.
- D-Link DI-524 Wireless 54Mbps High Speed Router – How about this? With the current set of rebates, this 802.11g higher speed access point is actually cheaper than the slower Linksys device. In fact, if you go through all the hoops, it should end up costing you a paltry $19.64 for this device. Cool! This unit has the same standard four Ethernet ports as the Linksys, a built-in firewall for security, and is small enough to tuck behind your desk and forget about.
There are, of course, a zillion different wireless base stations you can buy, these are but two. I have Linksys equipment and have had very good results with them, but there are definitely other vendors who have top-notch equipment on the market too.
Once you get hooked up, you’ll want to decide whether you want to leave your wireless network open and password-free, or whether you want to add a password. There are two basic types of password security for wireless networks: WEP and WPA. The former is less secure, but more commonly supported with older wireless devices, while the latter is still not perfectly secure but pretty darn good.
The advantage of a password is that neighbors and random folk driving past your house can’t suddenly pop on and be part of your local network (which is obviously quite dangerous). The disadvantage is that it’s a hassle and you need to remember your password, often a fairly cryptic 24 character or longer encrypted key. Further, if you want to add a password you’ll also need to install some admin software on your computer and fiddle with the new access point, which can be a hassle.
My recommendation nonetheless? Add a password to your new wireless network. The added security is well worth the extra effort.
Okay. So, buy the right device, hook it all up, set up a wireless password, and you should be able to get up and running with your new, modern network configuration, hook up your Sony PSP to the Internet, and simultaneously work on your PC or Mac without any conflict.
Note: This Q&A was written by Drew “flyboy” Crouch of the AskDaveTaylor editorial team.