hField Technologies' Wi-Fire Long-Range WiFi Adapter

hField Technologies' Wi-Fire Long-Range WiFi Adapter

hField Technologies' Wi-Fire Long-Range WiFi Adapter

Pros: Inexpensive, well-engineered wi-fi antenna brings your laptop closer to harder-to-reach wi-fi access points. Although only tested on a 15” PowerBook G4 running 10.5.8, hField Technologies says the Wi-Fire will also work on Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP as well as Linux. Works with Mac 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6 and supports the IEEE 802.11 b/g wireless protocols, and allows the end user to utilize WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security protocols. Included 4' (122cm) USB 2.0 cable is long enough to for all laptops as well as accommodating for use with desktop computers. Although intended for laptop use, the feet on the Wi-Fire can be positioned flat and the unit can be used on a flat surface making it ideal for use with desktop computers as well. The software (Mac version tested) was intuitive and functioned similarly to Apple’s own Airport.

Cons: The Wi-Fire is rather large (see photo below – mounted on a 15” PowerBook G4). The Wi-Fire measures 4” L x 2 1/4” H x 5/8” T (10.2cm x 5.7cm x 1.4cm) and weighs 2.8 ounces (80g). No support for the 802.11n protocol. Aesthetically, the Wi-Fire looks ungainly mounted atop any laptop with a screen size smaller than 17” (43.2cm).

Comments: According to hField Technologies’ documentation, the Wi-Fire “provides access to a wireless Internet connection from up to 1,000 feet (300m) away – three times the range of your internal wireless adapter!” Although not scientifically tested in terms of range, anecdotally, this claim seems reasonable given the amount of local networks at known distances that were viewable when the Wi-Fire was attached and powered on versus when the Wi-Fire was not attached.

The company’s website claims that the Wi-Fire will maximize your 802.11 b/g data throughput. This claim was not supported by the testing performed with local wireless networks that were close by the laptop (less than 100’ or 30.5m). Multiple testing sessions during different times of day and different days showed no difference in terms of throughput for close wireless networks. It can be said, however, that at distance, the throughput was, in fact, maximized given the user was able to access networks not otherwise accessible without the use of the Wi-Fire.

All-in-all, the Wi-Fire is a very handy and useful wireless adapter for people who frequently travel and find themselves supposedly in a wi-fi hotspot but with spotty signal strengths (i.e. hotels, convention centers, airports, marinas, colleges & universities, coffee shops, truck stops, and rural areas).

For more information, click the link below:

hField Technologies

hField's wi-fire antenna shown mounted on top of PowerBook G4 screen