Hawking Hi-Gain USB Wireless-G Dish Adaptor review

Price when reviewed

Hawking Technology specialises in performance-enhanced wireless networking. However, rather than using proprietary adaptors and routers, it employs optimised antennae to improve signal reception for regular 802.11g connections.

Hawking Hi-Gain USB Wireless-G Dish Adaptor review

The Hi-Gain USB Wireless-G Dish Adaptor sits on a chunky stand, upon which it can swivel and tilt. Hawking claims that careful positioning of the 8dBi Directional Dish can increase connection distances by 300 per cent over a standard 802.11g adaptor.

Once you’ve installed the utility and drivers and rebooted, you simply plug into a USB port and your wireless connection is ready. Hawking also supplies Hot Spot Locator software, which is kept up to date via regular automatic downloads, and you can search by postcode or address.

To test the Hawking’s range characteristics, we tried copying a 119MB file to a Dell Centrino notebook from a desktop PC attached via wired Ethernet to a Linksys wireless broadband router. First, we used the Dell’s built-in 802.11g WLAN adaptor and then the Hawking. To show optimum performance, we began the test in close proximity. Here, the Dell’s integrated wireless achieved 15.1Mb/sec, and the Hawking just 12.9Mb/sec.

But the Hawking isn’t meant for short hops, so we decamped to a shed 30m away with numerous walls in between. From here, the Dell’s built-in WLAN dropped its nominal connection speed as low as 5.5Mb/sec, which resulted in an average real-world throughput of 2.6Mb/sec in our file-copy test. Once we’d positioned the Hawking correctly, it managed a healthier 7.1Mb/sec, although it did occasionally drop the network connection and abort the file copy.

Our tests show that Hawking’s claim of 300 per cent greater range isn’t particularly exaggerated, as the Dish Adaptor was 2.7 times as fast as regular 802.11g. Considering the reasonable price, and the fact that you don’t need a matching router on the other end, it beats MIMO for flexibility. So if you do need to extend the reach of your WLAN without having to buy a completely new suite of wireless kit, this could be just the ticket.

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