Wi-Fire Review

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

22 Comments

  • Plugh says:

    Omni-directional means it would increase range in every direction. This is a directional antenna, since it needs to be pointed at the WAP. 1000 feet is a little disappointing, since cantennas tend to work up to 10 miles, but the more portable design may be a fair trade-off for range.

  • Eugene says:

    I think it is not useful, if I don’t know where AP is.

  • Tim says:

    Be careful when purchasing the Wi-Fire, it didn’t work for me and I have sent them 4 emails and left 2 phone messages (no one ever answers the phone) trying to get a return number and they won’t respond. It’s starting to look like this is a “Fly by Night Outfit” at best.

  • kzai says:

    very good ! i like it

    • Makay6 says:

      I love this gadget. It works well with my computer both at home and when I am traveling. I take it everywhere I take my laptop and I am always pleased with the results.

  • Darren says:

    The software for Leopard is not really functional it often causes kernal_task to eat up all my cpu cycles and nothing but restart will fix the issue. Great idea, but useless without functional software. Still no sign for their improved Version 2.0 software either even with a Summer 2008 release date.

  • Red says:

    This piece of crap is worst than my internal antenna.

    Even when I’m sitting right next to the router, and have it pointed right at the router I only get 80-90% signal VS my internal 100% signal.

    Then there’s the speed issues–
    Download speeds with Wi-fire were about 20-30 kb.
    Internal 300-500 kb.

    Yes it can see AP farther away than an internal antenna, BUT the connection goes in and out, or it doesnt even connect to the AP.

    Dont waste your time with this shit, its just a cheap usb wifi with a cheap directional antenna.

    • david says:

      I just recently acquired a Wi-Fire unit.

      A few notes on this one. For starts, I don’t think it’s worth $80. The third party wireless software bundled with this unit is a choppy hack at best; it consistently crashes. The hardware mount is crap, and the unit really isn’t that powerful. I honestly doubt it’s using 500mw.

      I was able to get the item to connect on both my Macbook, my Macbook pro, and my 1.67ghz pb G4, but not without frequent restarts/reinstalls/forced quits. My longest stretch of connectivity was roughly 5 hours. On my Macbook and G4 pb, I did notice an increase in signal strength. However, on my Macbook Pro, signal was slightly weaker than what the stock Airport card achieves

      I was unable to see a reduction in either latency to my game servers, or an increase in total bandwidth using the Wi-Fire. In fact, most of my ping times increased by 20-30ms. I suspect this is due to the crappy drivers. I would recommend a Hawking product instead. DO NOT BUY

      • snowbird says:

        Wi-fire is garbage. I bought one – it shows the networks fine – but if they are encrypted good luck at logging in if your getting low-medium signal. Even at 20 percent, Wi-fire refused to log in and got stuck on (acquiring,,,,,,) forever. Garbage

    • ejg says:

      It makes no sense to criticize this antenna by saying “my internal shows 100% but the wi-fire shows 80-90%”. Note that Wi-fire was made to better your connection distance by supplying a very sensitive antenna combined with a very small reflector focused in a specific direction. The oversensitive antenna over saturates close in which is why you see erroneous measurements for your closeby/home network. I question the credibility of some of the negative tests reported here.

      I myself am able to connect to a neighbors network and speedtest shows 7Mbps down, 3Mbps up. The network is about 300 yards away. Signal strength is 50% whereas I could not see the signal with my laptop. Great antenna except the clip-on really is a joke. Better to set it on a flat surface.

  • LS says:

    Thought I was the only one with lousy experience with this adapter
    I see I’m not alone! A couple years ago I bought a Wi-Fire that did manage to improve the signal a little bit from my wireless router 300 feet away. I wish I had a dollar for every reinstall of the buggy WiFire drivers I had to do to get the thing even to work somewhat reliably. Technical support was very poor, delaying an entire month with slow email runaround excuses before finally and begrudgingly replacing the dead-on-arrival unit I received.

  • eceplayg says:

    Check out this review, its recently done (couple months ago) and its with the new redesigned Wi-Fire which looks MUCH better! http://eceplayground.com/2010/07/28/featured-wi-f

  • eceplayg says:

    Check out this review, its recently done (couple months ago) and its with the new redesigned Wi-Fire which looks MUCH better! http://eceplayground.com/2010/07/28/featured-wi-f

  • Roseanne says:

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  • repeater says:

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