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Increase Wireless Reception

...with Whip Pro antenna

Reviewed by Daniel M, East

For those frustrated by the reception problems on their 15"/17" Powerbooks, the lip biting can now stop and no more will you find yourself in an airport or coffee house sitting in a seat somehow on the fringe of their wireless signal, watching the number of bars go up and down as you desperately wait to download that must-have file or to watch your favorite Mac-friendly QuickTime broadcast (can you tell that I have dealt with this once or twice?). QuickerTek does it again by introducing their latest high gain Whip Pro antenna for Apple Powerbooks.

Whip ProPeople have come up to me for several years to ask about my previous generation QuickerTek antennas and I always say the same thing, "if you go online when you're on the road, you have to get one of these things." The Whip Pro is more than an update to the +2dB whip - actually, it is an option to it. Depending on your specific need(s), Rick Estes, the RF wizard at the helm of QuickerTek, has put a great deal of time into very specifically tuning the reception of his products to address some very specific needs of his customers. According to Estes, "the main concern is the rad pattern relative to the phyical layout of the installation. if the base station and the PB are on the same horizontal plane than get the 5.5 if trying to go up stairs then get the 2.0."

"There was a lot of attention going toward antennas for the base stations, but that is really one component of creating your own network whereas the antennas deal with those people who don't always know what type of wireless router they might be dealing with," reports Estes. He summed up the principle behind the antennas this way, "imagine being on a cruise ship out in the beautiful Carribean and knowing that there is this huge ocean out there; so, modifying the base station gives you a bigger ocean. The antenna built-in to your Powerbook is like looking at that ocean through a porthole, but placing an antenna on your Powerbook is like having a huge panoramic window that let's you see the whole view."

In comparison, my 15" aluminum Powerbook was showing two wireless networks near my office, my 2dB antenna from QuickerTek currently shows five networks and the new Whip Pro shows eight. I don't know where they might be or to whom they belong, but I see them and they almost all show signal strength of over 20 with three over 30 using MacStumbler with at least a 5% increase in reception over the same visible networks on my Powerbook with the 2.2 dB model. In other words, it sees more networks and sees them with better reception in a very normal environment. I found that one network was even on the same channel as my AirPort base station and changing that proved to be very helpful with reception on my own network. Interesting to see just how many people surrounding my own office never checked competitive networks on their frequency.

On the down side, installation is still not for the timid; although, it is not quite as tough as one might think. In fact, this model was designed to make the form meet the function and the aesthetics actually make installation easier in terms of mounting and assembly. First timers may wish to see the help of an certified technical consultant or reseller. Once the jumper cable is installed, the antenna's cable connects easily and you will notice immediate results. Another issue I have with the external antennas, as a whole, is the need to use adhesives and other materials to properly mount these antennas onto the Powerbook. What I have done is to leave the antenna as a tabletop item since the corner mounting hardware is stable enough to stand the antenna upright. A nice touch is that the jumper cable which connects to the AirPort Extreme card is small enough to be fished through the PCMCIA card slot without interfering with the actual card installed (if/when one is).

Further, I do wish that the antenna had some kind of logo and/or branding imprinted on it as it does raise some eyebrows when traveling in this day and age. Usually, I have the manual with me so that security people can actually see that it is a commercial product for use with wireless networks. I'd like to see a little marketing flair come to QuickerTek, but what's in a name? It works and that is my first concern with a product of this type.

For the road warrior or the coffee house hang time, if you use WiFi on the road, QuickerTek has you covered. You might even find yourself online when the random passerby will ask "how do you have wireless reception? I can't find any." Congratulations to Estes and QuickerTek for, yet again, amazing me with the outstanding results from the use of their products.

QuickerTek Whip Pro


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