1,000 feet you say? That’s the claim made by hField Technologies, makers of the Wi-Fire; a wireless device that extends the reach of a standard Wi-Fi signal. Big question is does it work?
In a nutshell yes, it really works but with a few caveats. The biggest one being it’s a uni-directional antenna – that big square thing you see clamped to the laptop. You have to turn it towards the location of your wireless hub. The good news is that’s about as hard as it gets. Everything else seems to work flawlessly.
The unit is USB powered and doesn’t seem to affect battery life or performance on my Macbook. My apartment is 800 sqft. and I’m only about 100 sqft. from my wireless hub at any point in time but I wanted to test the extremities and see how far I can move away before the signal dropped. To my surprise I was able to leave my apartment and go all the way across the street. Mind you the street in front of my apartment has a total of 4 lanes. It was only then that I noticed my signal had dropped below half but I was still surfing the net, checking email, and IM’ing. Of course this is with the antenna having a clear line of sight of my bedroom window which is where my wireless hub sits. I then decided to test the signal from my parking garage which is underground. As expected it could find no signal but not to the fault of the Wi-Fire. All wireless signals dramatically fade when concrete is in the way.
My only big gripe is the design. It’s hideous and makes my pristine white Macbook look like a Borg assimilation. It comes with a plastic clamp which securely holds it to my screen but I found myself constantly checking if it had marred my casing. After a few weeks of use I’m glad to report no damage was found.
Although the Wi-Fire is small, it’s by no means compact. I’m sure hField Technologies could have created a sleeker unit but I suspect they were more concerned about function than form. The good news is it works and rather well too. It’s compatible with both Macs and PCs via a simple driver install but the $80 price tag may drive some people away. If you live in a home larger than a 1,000 sqft. a wireless repeater can be had for the same price but then again you wouldn’t have the mobility afforded by the Wi-Fire. With that being said it’s a solid deal and gets a recommendation from me.
One note to hField, get to work on a smaller version!
Buy It Here: Wi-Fire