EnGenius takes the practical road to WLAN performance improvement


At a Glance
ProductEnGenius EUB-362 EXT High Power 802.11b/g /Adapter (EUB-362 EXT)
SummaryHigh power 802.11b/g USB adapter with upgradable antenna
Pros• Enterprise-grade security and authentication
• Upgradable antenna
• Good balance of transmit power and receive sensitivity
Cons• No mounting features make it awkward to use for on-the-go notebook users
• Unfriendly client utility, especially for signal and throughput tweaking

EnGenius EUB-362 EXT product shot

To finish up the other half of this short series on range-extending 802.11b/g USB adapters (hField's Wi-Fire was the first review), we have the EnGenius EUB-362 EXT (362). EnGenius is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Senao International - a well-known OEM/ODM of telecom and wireless LAN products that positions itself as "The Leader in Long Range Data Communications Systems". The "secret sauce" of its long-range performance generally involves using higher transmit power (200 mW and above) and upgradable antennas.

EnGenius' long range cordless phones are a familiar fixture in many "big box" stores and its WLAN products are perhaps more familar to corporate users since the company doesn't strongly pursue the retail WLAN market. But its products can be found online with a little Googling, primarily at smaller e-tailers.

The 362 is an 802.11b/g adapter with a USB 2.0 interface for computers running Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP. With dimensions of 2.8" x 2.1" x 0.5" (75.2mm x 53.9mm x 14mm) and weight of 1.5 oz (40 g) it's small and light enough to be thrown into your travel bag without a care. I would have liked to have seen EnGenius include the retractable USB cable that came with the Wi-Fire, though, since the included 5 foot USB cable is kind of stiff.

There are no mounting features on the 362, so if you want to do anything other than let it sit on a table, you'll need to supply your own hook and loop tape or other improvised mounting system.

The adapter comes with a 2 dBi dipole antenna that is hinged and so can be positioned as needed. It connects via an RP-SMA connector and so can be replaced with a higher-gain antenna. There is also a single wireless Link / Activity LED on the top of the device.

Figure 1 shows the 362's board. The pictures taken from the FCC ID filings aren't clear enough to tell for sure, but I guessing that's an Atheros AR5005UG USB 2.0 chipset - since AR5523 drivers (the MAC / Baseband part of the AR5005UG chipset) are supplied. The 362's maximum transmit power is spec'd at 25 dBm (320 mW) EIRP, but I suspect that is taken care of by an external power amp vs. the AR2112 2.4 GHz Radio-on-a-chip.

EUB-362 board

Figure 1: EUB-362 board (click image to enlarge)

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