Friday, August 20, 2010

What’s in a number? Rampant inflation of output power numbers among Wi-Fi vendors…

Many buyers come to us looking for the best available Wi-Fi adapter. One spec used to determine performance is RF output power, measured in both mW and dBm. Often potential customers believe the higher the output the better. This is not always the case, but output power is important. But how do you really know the true output power of the Wi-Fi product you are buying?

This month we completed a study of various high power Wi-Fi products being sold online at several market places and found there was rampant inflation of the output power declared for many items. For legal reasons we cannot name specific web sites or brand names at this time. What we can say is as follows:

1. Output power inflation was most common among generic Wi-Fi adapters. Because output power cannot be easily confirmed by the consumer, we found several online places that sold products advertised as 1000mW max output when in fact they were really 500mW or less.

2. If the product is advertised as having a brand name, it is a good idea to check with the manufacturer’s web site to confirm advertised specs. One brand name we can mention is Gsky- a maker of 500mW USB adapters. We obtained Gsky units from several vendors that advertised them as 1000mW when in fact they were really 500mW units. We also found that in many cases the specs of these products listed the dBm as 27 or 28 (which as any mW-to-dBm calculator confirms, is much less than 1000mW) even though other places in the descriptions referenced 1000mW.

3. Beware of those who advertise radiated output power. This is a trick whereby sellers can use a figure like 2000mW of 3000mW in the product title without actually claiming that it is the maximum RF output power of the product. This is done to confuse buyers and make a product appear more powerful than it is.

4. Beware of counterfeit products. When buying, if the product is brand name, check with the manufacturer to see if the seller is an authorized distributor of the brand. Just because they are not does not mean the product is counterfeit. We are not an authorized distributor of every brand we sell. But it does help narrow the chance. Some companies such as Alfa Networks sell only to authorized distributors. We are an authorized Alfa distributor and buying from an authorized Alfa distributor ensures you are getting a genuine product and also that your warranty is valid.

5. Always remember output power is only one specification. Other important areas to consider include the receive sensitivity of the chipset and the brand or seller of the product. A seller may advertise a product as coming with a 5 year warranty, but if the item is coming direct from China, are they really going to be there when the product breaks? Getting products such as Alfa Networks brand, which have been well reviewed online for several years, is a good way to ensure you are getting a quality product from a vendor with a good reputation.

A testament to the quality of Alfa Networks products

The other day one of our people here (we won’t mention any names) mistakenly plugged a 19v power supply into a USB hub we have instead of the correct 5v power supply. As you can imagine, the results were not good. The error fried the major brand hub, as well as a major brand (expensive) keyboard connected to the hub.

Not affected at all was an Alfa AWUS051NH wireless USB adapter that was also connected to the hub. It continues to work great.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Alfa AWUS036H, AWUS036NH and Kaspersky Antivirus

We have received a couple of reports from Kaspersky Antivirus users of difficulty installing their Alfa product. We have confirmed with Alfa that in rare cases, having Kaspersky installed on your system may prevent a successful driver installation for your Alfa product. The solution is usually to just disable your antivirus software before doing the installation of the Alfa software, and then enable it again when installation is complete (a process very commonly recommended by various hardware and software providers to avoid conflicts).

In the case of Windows Vista, you may need to take some different steps:

1. Plug AWUS036NH and install IS_AP_STA_RT2870_D-
2. Open properties of the newly installed wireless connection
3. Disable (uncheck) the Kaspersky Anti-Virus NDIS 6 Filter (see image below)
4. Reboot PC with plugged AWUS036NH
5. Open properties of the wireless connection (go to Control Panel > Network Connections and locate the adapter, right-click and select Properties) and enable the Kaspersky Anti-Virus NDIS 6 Filter
6. Open Ralink Connection Utility, problem solved


Friday, August 06, 2010

Rok500 wireless adapter discontinued, we recommend Alfa AWUS036H 1000mW

Our Rok500 500mW USB Wi-Fi adapter has been discontinued. The product launched on March 27, 2009. As newer, better, and more powerful products are developed, it is necessary to discontinue older models. Any Wi-Fi product model you see on a store shelf will likely be discontinued by the manufacturer within 1-2 years of release date depending on what it is (accessories that can be used with various products have a longer shelf life). It does not mean there is anything wrong with the product, it is just time to make room for the next best thing.

We will continue to offer support for any owner of the Rok500 for one year from the original purchase date.

If you ended up here in search of a Rok500, we recommend getting the Alfa AWUS036H 1000mw USB Wi-Fi adapter. This is a well reviewed product that gets great range and strong signals.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

2.4/5 GHz Wireless USB adapter for Apple Dual Band Time Capsules

If you own a dual band Time Capsule from Apple, you may have noticed that you have the option to run your 802.11n signal over the 2.4 GHz band, or have it run over the 5 GHz band while having a separate 802.11g signal broadcast over the 2.4 GHz band.

The latter option is the desired one, because 802.11g devices bring down the performance of an 802.11n network a little bit. So if your dual band Time Capsule is configured for both G and N to run on the 2.4 GHz band, while performance will be good for 802.11n devices, it will not be maximized. Therefore, when possible, if you have both 802.11n and 802.11g devices in your home, you want to have your dual band Time Capsule broadcast an 802.11g signal over 2.4 GHz, and an 802.11n signal over 5 GHz. This will allow your Macs with internal dual band Airport Extreme-N cards to utilize your optimized 5 GHz 802.11n network, while any 802.11g devices in your home can still connect to the time capsule over the 2.4 GHz band.

The problem many Time Capsule owners encounter is getting a dual band Mac compatible wireless device for Macs that don’t have an internal dual band Airport Extreme-N card.

The solution to this problem comes from Alfa Networks in the form of model AWUS051NH, a new dual band 802.11a/b/g/n long range wireless USB adapter. This Wi-Fi device is Windows compatible as well, but comes with Mac software (Mac users note that the CD in the retail box is a mini CD, so if you have a slot loading drive, you will need to contact us when purchasing to obtain a current driver link for the Mac software).

Once you install the device and set it up per the instructions, you can use the utility program that gets installed to scan for and detect wireless networks. You will need to take the one-time step of clicking on the Advanced tab in the utility program and change Wireless Mode from 2.4G to 2.4+5G so that the device will be able to detect and connect to 5 GHz 802.11n networks.

The best part about the AWUS051NH? It’s price. Click here to see our current price.