EnGenius takes the practical road to WLAN performance improvement


I've tested a number of "high power" or "high gain" solutions for wireless LAN improvement over the years, but I keep coming back to the same conclusion: high power alone doesn't solve WLAN connectivity problems. Using a " high power" adapter or AP/router without a similarly-powered partner at the other end of a connection won't provide reliable WLAN improvement because of the mismatch in power. "Shouting louder" also increases the chances of your WLAN interfering with someone else's. And while you may think "tough nuts" to the other guy, all I can say is that Karma will get you eventually.

I've always been a fan of "listening better", either by using WLAN gear with superior receive sensitivity or using higher-gain antennas. The better antenna approach has an additional benefit of providing more gain on both receive and transmit, which is exactly what's needed for improved two-way performance. While EnGenius appears to take the "high power" approach to WLAN range improvement, their use of an Atheros chipset in the 362 shows that they also understand the value of having good receive sensitivity.

All things considered, the 362 has a good combination of elements (higher-than-normal transmit power, good receive sensitivity and the ability to add a higher-gain antenna) that can improve your chances of getting better WLAN performance under low signal conditions. And, unlike the Wi-Fire, it does it at a price of only 2-3X the going rate of an 802.11b/g USB adapter instead of 4-5X.

As I've said before, these products generally won't perform miracles and take a poky, intermittent 1-2 Mbps connection and turn it into a solid 20 Mbps link. But the EUB-362 EXT just might give you what you need to get by.

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