I want a Wi-Fi dongle that, besides acting as an ordinary Wi-Fi client, could change its mode to work as an Access Point too. Should I get a dongle with SoftAP or should I get one with Wi-Fi Direct? What is the difference (if any) between these two concepts?

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SoftAP en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Direct Realtek and Ralink are manufacturers, they make several chip sets. Anyhow, shopping recommendations are off-topic for SuperUser as per the FAQ. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Sep 7 '12 at 4:29
  • @techie007 I think he has a worthy question right there in his title, so I took out the shopping-recommendation-y parts of his question, leaving behind the worthy part of his question. – Spiff Sep 7 '12 at 7:51
  • @Spiff More power to ya. ;) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Sep 7 '12 at 11:33

Any Wi-Fi client can join an AP (including soft APs), but Wi-Fi Direct is a new thing as of roughly this year, so there are lots of devices that don't support it yet. So if compatibility with the largest array of client devices is a goal, go with SoftAP.

Wi-Fi Direct is a way for Wi-Fi devices to talk to each other directly, without the need to get them both associated to the same AP (or multi-AP network). If all the devices you cared about supported Wi-Fi Direct, then you could probably use it in lieu of SoftAP.

One additional advantage to Wi-Fi Direct in some scenarios is that you can use it even while each of your devices are connected to different wireless networks. Let's say you're at a conference chatting with a colleague, and each of you has his laptop associated to his own smartphone's personal hotspot or MiFi. Now you want to send a large file to your colleague (too big for email), and neither of you wants to lose his Internet connection during the file transfer. With Wi-Fi Direct, your two machines could establish direct Wi-Fi communication with each other without losing connection to the personal hotspots.

  • Thanks for the explanation. Sorry for a late read of your answer. I would like to give a vote to your answer. However, in this mean time, I could not do that as I do not have enough reputation. In fact, I have a DLink DWA-140 rev. B2 Wifi dongle (using the Ralink RT3072 chipset) in a Debian environment. Running "iw list" says that this dongle has AP capability, but I am not sure this dongle could act like a Wifi-Direct device. After reading the explanation, I now think AP mode may be just enough for me. – user1129812 Sep 8 '12 at 14:24
  • @user1129812 If you feel my answer correctly answered your question, you can click the checkmark outline to accept this answer. – Spiff Sep 28 '12 at 3:25

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