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As a way to improve reception to the occasional weak public wifi hotspot, I'm thinking of switching from the 802.b/g/n wifi connector embedded in my laptop to a USB connector with a big antenna like the TrendNet TEW-645UB or the Belkin N Wireless USB Adapter.

Before I go ahead, I'd like some feedback from users who have tried this type of external wifi connector, to check that it does improve wifi connections enough to make this purchase worthwhile.

Thank you.

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No need to use tags in your title :-) – Ivo Flipse Aug 26 '09 at 8:46
up vote 3 down vote accepted

that it does improve wifi connections enough to make this purchase worthwhile

Simply put, yes it does - BUT it depends heavily on the type of chipset you are using, and the strength of the antenna. Plus (and don't get me wrong) you can buy them cheaper then the ones you highlited. I would recommend an usb card with rt73 chipset and antenna plug, and a 10dBi antenna, and you can buy both for max 40 - 50 bucks.

Whichever your choice is, always take into account the strength of the antenna in dBi, and note if it's a omni-directional or directional antenna. Note -- 10 dBi antenna is approx 40 cm high (1 ft. 3 in.), so passers by could give you a funny look =)

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Thanks much for the tip. Would you happen to know what chipsets I should check before buying a USB key? – OverTheRainbow Aug 26 '09 at 20:49
Well, IMHO, Atheros and rt73 chipsets are the most reliable and have a high range of compatibility. Catch 22 is, that Atheros c.sets are sometimes hard to find, and can be somewhat pricey. Rt73 are more common, especially in Edimax and Ralink cards. Long story said short - if you need a wifi card for common, everyday usage, any c.set will do just fine, so I would recommend watching out for those cards which have an antenna plug (which is not a really common feature amongst usb cards), and attaching an antenna with high gain on it. For advanced usage, Atheros and rt73 are the best there choice – ivlBstard Aug 28 '09 at 13:31
Thanks for the pointers. – OverTheRainbow Aug 29 '09 at 5:04
Glad to be of service... – ivlBstard Aug 29 '09 at 14:06
the first link shows something that look like I can plug it into my laptop usb port. The second link shows something with a cable that does not look like a usb cable. How does one use the second one? Can I connect it to a laptop? – Le Curious Oct 20 '13 at 23:24

Why not just make a USB dongle waveguide to improve reception? Get a small piece of card and glue tinfoil to it. Then get another piece of card, fold it in half, splaying the ends. Curve the tinfoil card and attach it to the aforementioned splayed ends. Make a (slot) hole in the folded card and slip it over the dongle ~ voila! much better reception!

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You should link to something with a diagram or embed one. – dlamblin Sep 30 '09 at 3:47

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