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How do you boost wireless reception?


The EN World kitten
A friend of mine still uses his laptop of five years, something I hadn't thought possible. However, its ability to pick up local wireless signals is, in a word, poor. It can only find the strongest, closest signals in an area.

He wants to know if there's some sort of peripheral or device that he can purchase so as to boost his computer's ability to pick up wireless signals, without actually buying a new computer. I don't know, so I'm asking you guys - is there such a device?
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First Post
Well, yes and no.

There are a few options:

A) Purchase a new wireless network adapter for the laptop. They do come available in USB compatible formats, where he just plugs it into a USB port. This may, or may not improve the reception....depending on whether or not it's a good adapter, and whether the issue (in the first place) is because the computer's onboard adapter is weak, or because the signals broadcast from nearby routers is.

B) Set up a wireless repeater. This could either be a separate device, or a second router set up in repeater mode. In a bigger house, it could extend the range of your main router.

C) Some routers might allow you to change their range settings.

I'm no pro at this....I'm sure a networking guru could figure out better solutions than I've suggested.



First Post
Getting an USB Wireless Adapter is surely the easiest way.
Those things are also quite inexpensive.

Of course, the laptop needs to be able to handle it (considering it's 5 years old, so USB speed might be an issue (does it have USB 2.0 ports and an updated Windows XP (SP2 is sufficient, IIRC), that can handle USB 2.0, for example; otherwise it should be one that works with USB 1.1))?



First Post
Get a new wireless card. Newer cards are much better at picking up signals. A PCMCIA card is also an option if he doesn't have USB 2.0. If you get one with an external antenna, you can modify it to pick up signals better. And by modify, I mean attach a curved piece of paper with some tinfoil on it. Looks lame, but it works.


First Post
5 year old laptop isn't that old. I have my Toshiba Satellite purchased in 05; more than 4 years old.

I know you can buy the high gain antennas for the Linksys brand router for home.

The second option for outside the home is USB wi-fi adapters, they are much smaller than they used to be.


They also make some USB wireless adapters that are tethered to a short (or long, if you prefer) USB cable. This may enable you to position the adapter into a better spot than your laptop for improved reception.

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