SUPER USB Wi-Fi Antenna 3….
Extend Wi-Fi reception up to one-mile
© 2011 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This is probably one of the most useful accessories you could add to your laptop. Although, not limited to laptops, and compatible with MAC’S and PC’s (Windows 2000™ - Windows 7™, Mac® 10.3 – 10.7, Linux, USB 1.1 – 2 interface), the SUPER USB Wi-Fi Antenna 3 offers an alternative to the short-range antenna supplied with your computer. Perfect for all types of travel applications!
(TIP: Some versions of MAC 10.6 & 10.7 may require a slightly different install. Refer to the manufacture’s web site for a special download.)
The antenna comes with software, custom cable and various mounting options. The software provides a driver for PC use and a wireless utility for either platform. This utility is used in conjunction with your network selection option found in your applications folder.
Once you install the software you are ready to plug in the antenna. A mini USB connector plugs into the antenna base. The other end of this cable offers two standard USB plugs, with one cable being thicker than the other. If you have two USB ports available, plugging in both connectors offers maximum reception possibilities since more power is applied to the antenna.
(TIP: U. S. government regulations restrict the amount of power emanating from a USB port. European connections are much less restrictive resulting in even more power being applied thus further increasing the range. Range can be up to one-mile, or even further under European conditions.)
If only one USB connection is used, select the thicker cabled one for insertion. Now, mount the antenna. I tested this device in a fourth floor condo with plenty of windows, so the suction cup option was my best choice. If, however, you were outdoors you would want to use the supplied cable ties around a stake or pole. The antenna has a 360° pickup pattern, perfect for outdoors, but somewhat restrictive indoors.
(TIP: The antenna receives encrypted and open signals. Naturally, only the open selections will be of any use to you unless you have the required password. The use of open, or unlocked, signals may only be used if the provider of such signals authorizes their FREE use. The fact that no password is required does not automatically mean you have permission to use it. Many public locations such as restaurants, pubs, etc., do authorize FREE use.)
As previously mentioned, my tests were conducted on the fourth level of a concrete building using a MacBook laptop with the antenna affixed with suction cups to the glass. Since no obstructions were present, I had the benefit of a 180° pickup pattern. Here are the results: Built-in Apple antenna – 10 channels; One USB plugged in (thicker cable end) – 37 channels; Two USB’s plugged in – 41 channels. I’m told it’s not unusual to see 100 or more channels, conditions permitting.
As noted, the results were outstanding. The software installation was easy. While there is lots of supporting technical documentation included, which looks intimidating and you probably won’t need, the computer completed the install automatically after a few moments. Engaging the antenna simply requires you to select it from a list of wi-fi sources in your computer and opening the wireless utility you just installed. This utility will show you all the channels being received and you simply click on any OPEN one that you feel you’re authorized to use. The rest is magic!
(TIP: Avoid the use of USB hubs as they may not supply adequate power.)
Available on line at: ccrane.com/antennas/wifi-antennas/super-usb-wifi-antenna-3.aspx
GADGETEER’S RATING: H H H H H
Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.