Review: hField USB WiFi Extender – Conclusion: HOT

hField Wi-Fire Review hField sent their latest WiFi signal boost device the USB Wi-Fire for product review. Below are the details from our Wi-Fire review. Wireless Local Area Networks are by far the least expensive and most convenient way to stay connected. However, using WiFi technology means we live with limitations. The biggest limitation, and most obvious from the term “wireless local area network” is the distance between access point and receiver. To that end, hField develops WiFi extenders to boost signal strength, increase connection speed and improve reception. The hField Wi-Fire is a directional antenna with a highly sensitive receiver designed to increase signal strength and connection speed. hField includes their proprietary software which also aids in the optimization effort. It’s important to understand the Wi-Fire is not a wireless router, but rather an add-on device to boost signal strength on a laptop or workstation which is receiving a wireless router signal.
hfield wi-fire review
The Review:The hField Wi-Fire is a USB based device with thoughtful design for portability and performance. The Wi-Fire is well made, light and extremely easy to install and operate. In addition, the software is license free thus making the portable antenna ideal for home and office computers.
wi-fire open box
Set Up / Installation: Setup and installation was easy. hField includes a large quick start guide which is easy to read and insures correct installation for a trouble free experience (view now). The primary goal with the Wi-Fire is increase or improve WiFi signal to a specific computer and maintain or sustain that WiFi connection during use on the computer. It’s important to note: the Wi-Fire is both Windows and Mac compatible. The latest release of the Wi-Fire from hField includes Windows Vista support. In addition, once the hField signal boost software is installed on either/any computer system(s) the USB WiFi extender is 100% transportable and compatible. Physical setup is a breeze. The Wi-Fire may be placed on a desktop or connected to a laptop monitor. Using the laptop setup you position the clamp/stand to “set” on top of the laptop screen.
wi-fire laptop setup
I would like to see a more secure method of securing the WiFi extender. Picking up the laptop with slight movement caused the Wi-Fire to fall off. Considering the mobility concept behind this product this could become annoying for those moving around in the home or office.
wi-fire desktop setup
Software: The hField software has four tabs; Main, Advanced, Profiles and About.
Main: This shows a list of available networks, the signal strength and whether the network is secure. The screen also provides a refresh button and connection button. Advanced: This provides specific details of a selected network such as theoretical transfer speed, encryption type, MAC, IP, Mask and Gateway information for a selected network (provided you have access to obtain some of this information). Profiles: This tab allows you to establish profiles with names for frequently accessed networks. About: You guessed it! You do see a web link and toll free phone number for quick reference.
wi-fire main tab
wi-fire advanced tab
Performance: Signal strength remained the same as with my laptop connection when less than 10 feet from the router location. However, pulling further away you see increased performance of the Wi-Fire.
wi-fire desk
I did several distance experiments. First location was 50 feet from access point down the hall of the office building, second location was 200 feet from access point, third location was about 600 feet from access point in the parking lot. Location 1 – 40 feet: The best signal strength I could obtain from the Wi-Fire was 89% signal strength quality. Although I did see signal strength spike to 95% and 100% from time to time during the connection. The transfer rate remained the same at 820Kbps as with my built-in receiver. Location 2 – 200 feet: The signal strength obtain at the 2nd location was 37% and appeared to be stronger than my built in adapter. The transfer rate dropped to 722Kbps with the Wi-Fire and even lower with the built-in adapter to that of 397Kbps. Location 3 – 600 feet: The signal strength from the furthest location was 10% on the hField software. The transfer rate using the Wi-Fire dropped to 487Kbps and I was not successful on getting the built-in adaptor to establish a connection.
wi-fire in parking lot
Conclusion and Summary: The hField Wi-Fire is a good product which performed well during tests. This WiFi extender is perfect for home and office use where signal strength is poor or you have obstacles which greatly diminish the WiFi signal strength. Cost / Warranty: Currently the hField Wi-Fire WiFi USB extender is $79 and carries a full 1 year warranty. Buy Now page. Working Environment: The Wi-Fire is compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms. The Wi-Fire supports Windows XP and Vista and Mac OSX. Comments:
The Wi-Fire review showed me the product is well built and reasonably priced. I would like to see a clamp of some sort to secure the WiFi extender to a laptop screen. Although it’s easy enough to set back on top – it would become annoying. It was also interesting to cruise through my neighborhood to see which networks where available…which brings me to this friendly reminder: SECURE YOUR WIRELESS NETWORK!

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Rich Gates

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