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Wireless internet connection
Old 08-16-2008, 10:26 AM   #1
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Wireless internet connection

Just finished a 5 week trip and stayed in hotels/motels every night,it was the rare hotel/motel that didn't advertise free wireless internet however while some had a very strong signal others were virtually useless as my lap top could not pick up the signal unless i walked to the front desk,so i got to wondering if there was anything i could do to my laptop to increase its wireless reception capability.And why do some places have strong signals while others do not?
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Old 08-16-2008, 10:49 AM   #2
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I have been thinking of buying one of these.

Spungle: WiFire (Verdict: Unbelievably Powerful!)
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Old 08-16-2008, 04:55 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by jambo101 View Post
Just finished a 5 week trip and stayed in hotels/motels every night,it was the rare hotel/motel that didn't advertise free wireless internet however while some had a very strong signal others were virtually useless as my lap top could not pick up the signal unless i walked to the front desk,so i got to wondering if there was anything i could do to my laptop to increase its wireless reception capability.And why do some places have strong signals while others do not?
The signal strength or lack thereof may be partially do to the number of walls, and the construction of those walls, that the signal has to pass through to get to your room. Or some hotels might just have better equipment to start with.

We stayed at a hotel (i don't remember which one) out in Ft. Collins, CO a couple of years ago that had pathetic free wireless internet. The signal was extremely poor, even in the lobby, and it was non-existent in our room on the second floor. Fortunately, I was easily able to grab a strong signal from the hotel next door......it lit up all of my signal bars on the wireless interface! Both hotels were name-brand outfits, but the other one definitely had better internet.
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Old 08-16-2008, 07:09 PM   #4
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I have been thinking of buying one of these.

Spungle: WiFire (Verdict: Unbelievably Powerful!)
Sounds interesting. Do you know of any 3rd party reviews? Most of the googled sites seem to be from those who are selling this item.
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Old 08-16-2008, 07:35 PM   #5
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I carry a 25 foot cable with me. I have found most rooms have a connection. If I have a bad connection on wifi I just plug in.
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Old 08-16-2008, 08:15 PM   #6
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This seems like a fair, independent review.

Review: Wi-Fire

All this really is is an external wireless adapter with a larger, directional antenna than whats embedded in your laptop. Which is not a bad thing. But it seems large and clunky and every review I've looked at said it didnt clip onto the laptop very well.

At $79, I'd look at other usb and pcmcia wireless options including wireless-n adapters. Not a whole lot of hotspots and open access points are using wireless-n at this point, but that'll change over the next few years.

Another option is simply a wireless cardbus card with a better chipset than what came in your laptop. A lot of the broadcom and other el cheapo integrated wireless cards arent that good. A card based on something like the Intel 3945 would be a good upgrade.

You may also be able to upgrade the internal minicard in the laptop. These are usually under a little door on the bottom of the machine. For Dell's, a lot of the cheapos include the 1390 or 1490 chip set. Okay but not as good as the 3945 and you can get an upgrade from Dell. Its not as easy as plugging in a USB device, but its about the same difficulty as changing memory in a laptop. Open a door, push a tab aside and take out the old card, reverse the process to install the new.

You're not going to get a 2-3x improvement in range or throughput with a new internal/cardbus card, more like 30%. But that may be all you'd get with an external USB device like the wifire...
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Old 08-16-2008, 10:16 PM   #7
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This seems like a fair, independent review.

Review: Wi-Fire

...

Thanks, CFB. It does sound fair and independent.
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Old 08-16-2008, 10:16 PM   #8
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Thanks, CFB. It sound like a fair and independent review.
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:44 PM   #9
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Just one other data point ... I bought one of these units and found it didn't give any better range than the internal WiFi card in my Toshiba laptop. It *did* find many more networks than the internal card, but I couldn't get a decent connection to any of them.

Now, I have to say, that the internal unit in the Toshiba does seem to work very well, compared to other laptops I've used. So whether or not you see any benefit from the WiFire unit may depend on how good your internal WiFi card is in the first place.

Peter
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:57 PM   #10
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Dell 1330M Laptop uses INTEL: 4565AGN. I am currently sitting at home and can "see" 4 other (total of 5 WiFi locations, including my own). 2 of the other 3 are 4 out of 5 bars. I have a built in "snooper" on the laptop and was really surprised how many "hits" I can get just driving around - what really surprised me was the number of "open" connections there are. People really need to read those "read me files" and secure their systems.
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Old 08-17-2008, 01:04 PM   #11
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The signal strength or lack thereof may be partially do to the number of walls, and the construction of those walls, that the signal has to pass through to get to your room. Or some hotels might just have better equipment to start with.
At my holiday place, which is concrete construction, the resort's WiFi signal can only be accessed on the balcony. So all suites have broadband.
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:51 PM   #12
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Just ending a 7 week trip and tried to connect with many a wifi, no way to figure out what will work. I have an old mac with a 'b' internal card. Works most places, then my wife has a very recent iphone with a 'g'connection. Sometimes one or the other or both would or would not work. Best thing we found is going to libraries they always worked with what ever we had. New servers were usually worse than older ones. Our saving asset was the iphone running off its regular phone connection in emergencies, it is enough to be able to check email and bank accounts.
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Old 08-17-2008, 10:40 PM   #13
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I use an external USB adapter for wifi (when my internal laptop is too weak) - Newegg.com - LINKSYS WUSB300N IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, Draft IEEE 802.11n USB 2.0 Wireless-N Network Adapter 256-bit WEP, WPA and WPA2 Encryption Security - Wireless Adapters I also have a 25' USB extension cable so i can put it out on the patio or by the window when im desperate.
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