Friday, November 16, 2007

Wi-Fire Range Extender

For the last six months, I've been using this small, directional USB adapter to hit marginal hotspots when parked. I'm traveling full-time now in a big bus/RV, so I've been everywhere and anywhere, and it really does work. One example: I was in a remote Alabama campground and their little access point was perhaps a few hundred feet away. With the internal Wi-Fi adapter in my Thinkpad (it's Mac/PC compatible), no go. With the Wi-Fire aimed carefully I got a solid, workable signal. I just rotate it around until I get the best signal. It does seem highly directional, too: an eighth-turn can make a huge difference and it's much, much stronger than with the internal adapter (the company claims up to 1000ft.). The big advantage, aside from the price, is that it uses a standard USB cable, so it can easily be extended and moved around unlike a Wi-Fi antenna which needs special cabling, connectors and isn't compatible with all Wi-Fi adapters. I keep dreaming up ways to do the ultimate, automatic long range communications antenna on the bus, but until then...