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Wi-Fire – Long-range WiFi Adapter – Review

19 Sep 2010
Wi-Fire
Long-range WiFi Adapter
hField Technologies
www.hfield.com
Review by Ed Danley

I recently had the opportunity to test a new product (new to me at least) called Wi-Fire. It is a long-range WiFi adapter that connects via USB. It’s not really new, Wi-Fire has been around since 2007.

The first thing you notice when you open the box is a little note for Mac users. It says the software on the CD is outdated and you must go online to get the latest version. Generally not a problem. Everybody has access to the Internet these days. If not personally, you know somebody who does. Downloading and installing the software was simple and easy.

I then plugged in the adapter and nothing happened. Rebooted. Still nothing. I looked around and found and new app called Wi-Fire Connection Manager sitting in my Applications folder. I started that and still nothing.

Step back and take a deep breath. Dumb little me. Up in the Menu Bar is a new icon: . Had I gotten past downloading a new version of the software in the manual, I would have known that. The new icon is to the left of the Airport icon. Airport is showing me 3 networks. Wi-Fire is showing me 9. I’d call that more power. Three of the network names are as expected 2WIRExxx. One is a neighbor’s last name. Then there is Moo, ungas, and even a “Wireless”. (Surprisingly there are none named Linksys.)

Unfortunately all of my neighbors are knowledgable WiFi citizens and their networks are all secure, so I can’t really test connecting to a previously unknown network. Obviously my own network is still the strongest.

But here is where I got to test support for the Wi-Fire. Personally I have one internet connection but two wireless networks. One private, WPA2 secured that all of my computers are on and one public network that people who visit can use. The Wi-Fire could connect with no problem to my public network, however it refused to connect to my secured network. A couple of go-arounds with Wi-Fire support came up with a solution (and one that I’ve seen before). Open the network (remove the password), connect with the Wi-Fire. Then secure the network connection again and reconnect. As I’ve said, I’ve seen this before with Apple networks. I had just forgotten about it.

Another benefit (although not unique) is that the Wi-Fire software shows me the channels the other networks are using. Using my Airport and a free program called iStumbler, I made sure my network was not on the same channel as others. When Wi-Fire showed me 3 times more networks, now I was clashing with other networks. I changed my WiFi channel and my overall network strength went up 5%. Why the network that is 10 feet away from me is 90% instead of 100% signal strength I’ll never know but that is a totally different issue.

Wi-Fire requires 10.4 or higher on a Mac. It also support Windows and Linux platforms.

If you don’t have a wireless connection or you want more power (who doesn’t), this is a great choice.

But wait! There’s more!

They are offering a special for members of Apple Users Groups. Visit http://appleusergroupresources.com/?p=1133 and the price is 20% off so instead of $49, it is $39.20.

Please mention that you heard about them at the DAUG web site.

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