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We sometimes get so caught up in the excitement of the “next big thing” we throw the baby out with the bathwater. Based on the performance of the Wi-Fire Wi-Fi adapter, that might just be the case with IEEE 802.11g wireless routers.
If you value range over throughput, this is the Wi-Fi adapter for you. This ungainly device doesn’t rely on MIMO or IEEE 8011.n; heck, it doesn’t even require a PCMCIA slot. When we plugged it into our notebook’s USB 2.0 port, it delivered unbelievable range with a year-old Asus WL700gE router equipped with a single antenna.
Indoors, the Wi-Fire performed no better than Linksys’s WPC600N adapter, and no 802.11g router can match the maximum throughput of an 802.11n model. But the Wi-Fire lived up to its name when we moved the notebook outdoors, delivering TCP throughput of 15Mb/s (compared to just 2.7Mb/s for the Linksys).
Our jaws really dropped as we moved the notebook ever further away: 350 feet from the router, with the signal passing through an insulated, double-thick interior wall and a steel garage door, the Wi-Fire delivered TCP throughput of 14.5Mb/s. Maximum range dropped to 135 feet on the other side of the house (which added four insulated interior walls, a set of plywood cabinets, and an insulated exterior wall with fiber-cement siding), but throughput remained steady at 13.2Mb/s.
The antenna is extremely directional, which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t mounted so loosely to its plastic stand. You can set it on a tabletop or clip it to your notebook screen, but after you’ve painstakingly located the reception sweet spot, the simple act of breathing is enough to move it out of position. We completely lost our connection only when it pivoted at extreme range, but at no point was the fit sufficiently tight to keep the antenna stationary.
Unbelievable range. Best through-put at range, bar none.
Very directionally-finicky. Can't compete with Draft-N at short range (obviously). Flimsy base denies it a Kick Ass.
WCP600N/ Linksys WRT600N
WCP600N/ Asus WL700GE
|Wi-Fire / Asus WL700GE|
|Home Office, 5 feet (Mb/s)||129.0|| 20.9 || 20.8 |
|Kitchen, 20 feet (Mb/s)||117.0 || 20.9 || 21.0 |
|Patio, 38 feet (Mb/s)||114.0 ||20.8 || 20.8 |
|Bedroom, 60 feet (Mb/s)||117.0||16.9|| 18.4 |
|Media Room, 35 feet (Mb/s)||117.0||13.0|| 15.8 |
|Outdoors A, 90 feet (Mb/s)||2.5||2.7|| 15.2 |
|Outdoors B, 85 feet (Mb/s)||1.1||3.4|| 15.1 |
|Outdoors C, 130 feet (Mb/s)||no connection || no connection ||13.2|
|Outdoors D, 350 feet (Mb/s)||no connection || no connection ||14.5|
Best scores are bolded. See here for detailed test criteria.