by Mielle Sullivan, Janus Networks
In today’s wirelessly networked world, connection is effortless only in areas where you can get a reliable signal on your computer. If you live or work in place where your connection leaves something to be desired, or if you travel frequently, you can spend a lot of time trying to find a good network. Once you have found one, all too often it can sputter out the minute you connect. In those moments, all the technological wonder of the internet is worthless to you and if you depend on cloud applications, your fancy laptop is all but a brick. Enter the hField Wi-Fire, a relatively new $59 adapter that can help keep you connected to everything you need.
The Wi-Fire is easy to set-up. Install their software on your Windows 7, Vista or XP, Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5, or Linux kernel 2.6.24 machine, plug it into your USB hub, clip the adapter to your monitor and you are ready. Reportedly, the device can boost wi-fi range by up to 1,000 feet. It draws power directly the from the USB port, but it uses a small amount of energy, so the drain on your battery is minimal. Once the software is installed and the device plugged-in, you can pull up a connection manager window that displays all available networks, the strength of each network in a clear percentage and the speed of any network you connected to.
Knowing the strength of a given network in a precise percentage is very helpful when determining which network to choose. While the network list detected by your computer will display signal strength in three or four bar increments, there is a lot of variation within a given bar that you are blind to without a tool like the Wi-fire. With an accurate idea of how strong a network is and how much it is fluctuating, you can minimize the need to switch networks in the event of signal loss. With the Wi-fire, you can also point the “antenna” towards the strongest signals and boost reception further.
If you travel frequently for work or if the signal strength in your office isn’t particularly stable, the Wi-Fire could be a real productivity enhancer. And at $59, it is affordable to most small business owners.
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