If you have a PowerBook G4 or a MacBook Pro, then you know that their lovely metal cases are great to look at, but suffer from substandard wi-fi performance. There are some products that promise to improve upon this, but apart from an external PC or Xpress card wireless card, none of them have been worth the hassle in our opinion. So, when we were sent the Wi-Fire from hField Technologies with the promise of vastly improved Wi-Fi connectivity, frankly we were skeptical.
I’m happy to report that the Wi-Fire works, in fact, much better then we expected. On a recent visit to my mother’s house, the MacBook Pro’s built-in Airport reported two networks, none with more than 2 bars’ strength, and even then they were too weak to actually connect. With the Wi-Fire software installed the Wi-Fire antenna attached, this jumped to 9 networks, most of which were accessible with good performance!
The software, Wi-Fire Connection Manager, has a couple of steps. The first is to install, then do a restart, then plug in the antenna, which automatically launches the software. Then a trip to System Preferences to the Network Panel to approve the new device, and that’s about it. You can keep your Airport card turned on or off, the Wi-Fire software bypasses it. I turned it off just for clarity’s sake and to save battery power when not plugged into the ac adapter.
I had a few problems with the software refusing to quit, and a couple of kernel panics. hField confirmed the issue, and said that an update was on its way. But those were minor issues compared to suddenly seeing networks that even our trusty G3 PowerBook that has superb Wi-Fi reception couldn’t see. I’d like to see a dedicated little mount for the antenna for the lid of the MacBook Pro and MacBook, but the generic mount supplied works fine even though it can be a bit wobbly.
If you have struggled with a good connection using your built-in Apple-supplied Airport card, then take a look at hField Technologies’ Wi-Fire, you will be amazed at what networks are out there!
Harris Fogel, Posted 12/20/2007
For more information on the Wi-Fire visit: www.hifield.com