Monday, June 29, 2009

Alfa AWUS036H 500mw USB vs. Rokland N3 (Alfa killer?) PART II

We have conducted another head to head test of our N3 Wireless 802.11n USB adapter (street date July 1st) and the Alfa AWUS036H 500mW USB adapter.

The video shows the N3 picks up a few more signals than the AWUS036H. This was done on a different computer than the computer used in the previous test. Toward the end of the video is a back-to-back comparison from the screencast. While the N3 is a product made by Rokland, we are providing these tests to demonstrate how well it performs. When we launched the Rok500 500mW USB adapter earlier this year, while it got great range and is a great value, we were up front that it did not beat the Alfa 500mW USB adapter in head to head testing.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A look at the N3 802.11n Wireless USB adapter from Rokland (street date 7/1)

The N3 is set to launch July 1st. In this video you can get a look at the item next to the MSI Wind netbook. The surface of the N3 is polished and reflective, very similar to the Wind. It makes for a great looking accessory, but the N3 also packs a punch in the range department. Have a look at this video, and check back within a day for another range comparison test video between the N3 and the Alfa AWUS036H 500mW WiFi USB adapter.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Microsoft seems to take note of Apple's Snow Leopard upgrade offer

Earlier this month Apple announced that the new version of its Mac OS, called Snow Leopard, would be available as an upgrade for just $30. Microsoft is also launching a new operating system this fall- Windows 7. Previous Windows upgrades have been priced around $90-$100. This time Microsoft is offering an upgrade deal at a much lower price.

Over at the Microsoft online store (and a number of retailers according to Microsoft), you can upgrade to Windows 7 for as little as $50 if you pre-order it now. Microsoft says the promotion will run until a preset number of licenses have been sold. No word on what the official number is, but some analysts have predicted the upgrade offer should be available until sometime in July.

One nice thing about the offer is that Microsoft won't actually charge your credit card until the product ships in October, so you don't have to spend the $50 right now. No word on what their cancellation policy is in the event you change your mind about the pre-order come October.

What happened to the Alfa AWUS050NH 802.11n high powered wireless USB adapter?

As you may know, Alfa Networks manufactures the most popular and longest range WiFi product on the market- the AWUS036H 500mW 802.11g wireless USB adapter. Back in March they launched the 802.11n version, the AWUS050NH, to very good reviews. There was some discussion thereafter that while the AWUS050NH worked extremely well with 802.11n routers, the performance with 802.11g routers could be a little better. In June, Alfa discontinued the model in favor of a version 2 of the same model number, to be shipped to distributors instead. The new version has hit some setbacks and is not set to be ready for release until sometime in July.

If you are in the market for this model adapter, it is our understanding direct from Alfa that no retailers have the version 2 unit for sale right now. Alfa did ship a handful of test units to retailers (we did get some and all are gone). Some retailers still have a stock of the version 1 available. The version 1 works very well and is worth buying, but Alfa is touting improved 802.11g functionality on the version 2 model. We received about ten units of the version 2 (they worked great), and know they will be a hit with buyers when they are available in July.

As an authorized Alfa reseller, you can count on us to have the version 2 in stock and ready to ship as soon as Alfa launches them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

500mW amplifier pen boosters for 2.4 GHz wireless are here!

We now have in stock and ready to ship 500mW pen booster amplifiers for 802.11g wireless equipment. Our boosters have both an RP-SMA male and RP-SMA female connector, so you can immediately install them in between your existing WiFi adapter and antenna (use requires a WiFi adapter that has an RP-SMA external antenna connector).

The kit also includes a converter to RP-TNC if you want to use the device with your wireless router instead. These pen boosters are compatible with all types of USB and PCI WiFi adapters, including the very popular Alfa AWUS036H 500mW USB adapter. When using with the Alfa adapter, you can boost your total max output power up to 1000mW, that's one full watt!

Check out the item description we have for this product, we have a nice comparison graphic showing WiFi range with the AWUS036H adapter and a 2 dBi gain antenna compared to the same setup using this 500mW booster. It gave quite a range boost.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Video of Alfa AWUS036H 500mW USB vs. the N3 from Rokland

Per my blog post last night, yesterday I tested the forthcoming N3 adapter from Rokland for the first time against the Alfa AWUS036H 500mW adapter, and was surprised at the results. I threw together a quick video today to show the difference. I apologize for the quality of the video, we will have some better quality footage of the N3 and the comparison as the launch date nears (July 1st is the projected launch date of the N3). But about 1:03 into the video up until about 1:08 you can see the additional signals appear after the N3 is hooked up to the computer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is the N3 an Alfa 500mW killer?

The Alfa AWUS36H 500mW adapter is the king of WiFi adapters, ask anyone who owns one. When you need long range wireless capabilities, you get the Alfa, end of discussion.

We have been developing a high powered 802.11n standard WiFi adapter called the N3, and physically it is beautiful. The adapter is being designed as a "functionality meets form" type of product that will bring long range wireless to Macs (it also works with Windows and Linux though) and do it in style. I got my hands on one today for the first time and was stunned, completely stunned by the results. At best I expected the adapter to work as good as our Rok500 wireless adapter, which gets great range but not quite as great as the Alfa AWUS036H. I was completely stunned when I hooked up the adapter and picked up several access points I had never seen before. I quickly verified the results using Wireless Monitor, and then hooked up an Alfa AWUS036H to compare. The N3 picked up 13 networks to 10 for the Alfa. I redid the tests and saved the results as images. The N3 also had better signal strength to access points in the same and next room, although the adapters seemed to receive about equally on APs further away. The N3 was not a great deal better than the Alfa, but it was still better, and that says a lot (these tests were done using the factory 2 dBi antennas in each box, as the Alfa 500mw has a higher max output power I am guessing with much higher gain antennas the Alfa would do better, but I will confirm that in later testing). Here are the images. In the next few days I will work to get a video test up here. Click on the image to see it in full size.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Confirmed: Snow Leopard to require Intel Mac

We have confirmed from multiple sources that the new Mac operating system version 10.6, dubbed Snow Leopard, will require a Mac with an Intel processor. This had been rumored for some time, but is now (barring any changes at Apple) a reality.

Snow Leopard launches on September 19th and will be available as an upgrade for just $29.95. For consumers who buy a new Mac between now and then, the upgrade will cost just $9.95.

If you have one of our Mac compatible wireless USB adapters installed on a Mac with an Intel processor, please keep in mind that 10.6 drivers may not be available for your product on the Snow Leopard launch date. Apple does not distribute release candidates of its software to the general public like Microsoft does, and only works with select hardware developers before the official launch date. Therefore most manufacturers must wait until the official launch date of a new Mac OS version before they can begin to develop compatible drivers and work out bugs.

When 10.5 (Leopard) came out in 2007, drivers for most 10.4 compatible WiFi USB adapters were not available for approximately four months. Hopefully the turnaround will be quicker this time, but if you have one of our Mac compatible adapters installed on your 10.5 system and plan on upgrading to Snow Leopard in September or shortly thereafter, your adapter may stop working until 10.6 drivers are available.

It is remotely possible the 10.5 drivers available now may work in 10.6, but we will not know for sure until after the launch date when we have gotten our hands on a Snow Leopard system and get the opportunity to run some tests. As always, any information we have or find will be available here as soon as we get it.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Alfa AWUS036H 500mW Wireless USB adapter is Windows 7 RC compatible

Today we are beginning our Windows 7 Release Candidate testing project. In the coming weeks we plan to test many of our products on Windows 7 Release Candidate. It is important to note that because Microsoft may make changes to the final release of Windows 7, compatibility claims in this post are only for Windows 7 Release Candidate. While unlikely, it is possible a product will work in the release candidate, but not in the final version. We don't really anticipate that though given that Microsoft has said that for the most part any hardware that works with Vista will work with Windows 7.

For the first of our tests we hooked up an Alfa AWUS036H 500mW adapter. A popup window appeared on the screen saying Windows could not install the product because there was no driver. The only option given was to find out more information. We clicked on that option and it told us we could try installing software from the maker of the device, which we had planned to do anyhow.

We then ran the Setup.exe program for Windows Vista which is found on the Alfa factory CD inside the Vista folder. The program opened fine, and along the way Windows offered another popup explaining that Windows could not verify the maker of the driver package, and asked if we wanted to continue installing the driver or stop. We continued, of course, and the program completed. At one point it looked like it might have been in a loop, because we did get the same popup from Windows a second time saying the maker of the driver could not be verified. However we continued through the process, and the installation completed. We were then able to go online with the device.

Note: while this likely means that other adapters we have which use the same chipset and driver as the Alfa AWUS036H (such as the AWUS036E and AWUS036EH models from Alfa, and the RokOn, RokAir, and Rok500 adapters from Rokland) should be compatible with Windows 7 RC, due to possible differences in firmware we will test each model and let you know the results here on our blog.