[Review] Wi-Fire WiFi adapter

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Those of you who live in an apartment in or major city know that at any given point, firing up the wifi on your device will hook you at least half a dozen different networks. But, not everyone has the convenience of being around a handful of networks. For some, they have to make do with a solitary network and often have to deal with weak signals and poor link quality. I live in a house in northern Indiana where I have room to roam with my laptop. Obviously, the signal deteriorates pretty quickly the further from the router I move. There are some days I would like to sit in the deck or even on in the yard and enjoy some nice digital surfing on the internet waves. Just using the integrated wifi card in my laptop will net respectable distances. However, to truly venture into the outside world with laptop and internet in tow, a more beefy adapter is needed. Today I will be reviewing the Wi-Fire Long Range Wi-Fi adapter.

 

**Update: After upgrading to OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, I’m sorry to say the Wi-Fire no longer works. I have contacted hiField and will update you once I receive a response.

**Update 2: The Wi-Fire is now compatible with OS 10.6

If you just want some raw numbers to munch on and then be on your way, more power to you:

  • 802.11b/g (N.A. channels 1-11) (Rest of the world: Channels 1-13)
  • Maximum Power: +27db
  • Security: WEP, WPA
  • OS support: (Windows: XP and Vista), (Mac: OS X 10.4 TIger and 10.5 Leopard), (Linux: kernel 2.6.24 and above)
  • Package Contents: Wi=Fire adapter, universal mount, 4-foot USB 2.0 cable, quick setup guides, Wi-Fire connection maanger CD, license and limited warranty

For those of you who would like to learn a little more, continue on.

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Now for many types of reviews, a long and length review is needed to fully discover every nook and cranny of the device’s hardware and if applicable, software. Starting with the hardware side of things, the Wi-Fire is a simple antenna with a clip that can be clipped to the top of your laptop screen and attaches with a supplied USB cable. The unit itself isn’t anything special though does appear that it will stand up to heavy use on the road. The clip doesn’t feel particularly that sturdy, but does get the job done. No more. No less.

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Moving over to the software side of things, installing the needed drivers for the device is painless. On my Macbook Pro running 10.5.8, installation of said drivers took less than a minute. After installed the drivers, plugging the adapter into a USB port will bring up the adapters setup box allowing you to search for wireless networks to connect to. Once your network of choice has been located, simply choose either WEP or WPA for the password type, enter in your password, and hit connect. If all goes well, within seconds you’ll be enjoying a newer, further reaching wireless freedom. Feel free to feel the grass between your toes, read on the dangers of skin cancer while tanning yourself, and whatever else it is you want to do in the outside world.

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After using the Wi-Fire for a couple of weeks now, while I wouldn’t exactly claim 1,000 straight feet from the router as my neighbors are close meaning extra walls get in the way, I must say that it extends my range from any given router an extra 2-300 feet further than I would be able to venture from my router without the Wi-Fire. Impressive feat to say the least. As you can see from the picture above, the signal may register as a rather low *** , however, I was browsing flash and javascript heavy sites without noticing any lag at all.

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If you spend most of your time within a 4-5 bar range of your router, you won’t notice any difference in browsing. However, if you’re constantly on the edge of the universe, hovering between 0-2 bars, the Wi-Fire will give you 3-5 bars you so desperately crave for! It really does work and it’s really simple to use. If you’re one of those edge dwellers, I highly recommend the Wi-Fire as it will as promised, increase your range without fuss.

**Notice in the last picture just how far behind my house I am. I’m roughly 3-400 feet. Not to mention, there are two walls, a refrigerator, some cabinets with dishes, part of the garage, and some greenery in the way. So far, the Wi-Fire has allowed me to drastically increase my range from the router while still getting a reliable connection. Also worth noting, I would watch the signal strength bar constantly fluctuate from 100% down to 60% while sitting still sitting next to or in the same room as the router. Whether its a software glitch or because of interference in the room (there are a lot of wireless waves pulsating through my humble abode) I’m not sure. Still, the Wi-Fire was steadfast. Not bad I say. Not bad at all.