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Reviews

WiFlyer Mobile Wireless Router

By Legacy May 2, 2005, 12:00 am

IINTRODUCTION

     Have
you ever wanted wireless internet access from a hotel room, dorm room or library
but were stuck plugging your laptop into a phone jack or LAN port instead? Or
maybe you carry a bulky WiFi base station with you because you simply cannot
be without the wireless net, and wish for a more portable unit. If either is
true, Always On Wireless has created a very elegant solution to your problem:
The PDA-sized WiFlyer wireless access point, capable of broadcasting wireless
internet from either Ethernet or Dial-up sources. Read on to learn more about
this compact, extremely functional piece of hardware.

Photographer:
Brian Forman

WHAT’S
HOT

     Wireless internet
is becoming extremely popular, if not commonplace.
Companies like Apple computer and Linksys have made
wireless networking simple enough for the common
consumer, and the conveniences ushered in by wireless
networking access have been embraced by the full
spectrum of consumers. So the next logical step to
the technology is to make it smaller and more portable.
This is exactly what Always On Wireless has done.

PRODUCT
FEATURES


     WiFlyer
is an 802.11b wireless device. It is compatible with
802.11b- & 802.11g-enabled PCs, Laptops and PDAs.
Range is given at 200 ft, with a network speed of
11 Mbps. WiFlyer supports industry-standard 128-bit
WEP encryption and is compatible with Windows, Macintosh,
Linux and Unix systems.

WiFlyer
works similarly to other popular base stations.
When the unit is connected to an Ethernet network,
it auto-detects the necessary settings and in seconds
is up and running. If the connection is to be made
via a dial-up service, then there is a simple GUI
onboard WiFlyer that allows the user to enter all
the relevant information (phone number, password,
etc). Just click ‘connect’ and the modem does its
thing.

WiFlyer
comes packaged with a standard RJ-11 phone cord
and a very slim & lightweight power adapter. The
power adapter is a nice touch because it is significantly
smaller than the WiFlyer unit itself. If the charger
were a standard size it would almost negate the
hard work that went into making WiFlyer itself
so small. Another great touch is the antenna port
on the side of the unit that allows you to attach
an external antenna to boost the unit’s range significantly.

Without
the additional antenna, I was able to get range
similar to that of my Apple Airport Base Station,
and a bit shy of my antenna-clad Linksys wireless
router. The unit was able to broadcast a sufficiently
strong signal to reach every corner of my (albeit
small) concrete-walled apartment. Always On claims
that line-of-sight broadcast lengths of up to 200
feet can be achieved. If you find yourself needing
added range, the Hawking Hi-Gain 6dBi Omni Antenna
is available from Always On for $48.95. This unit
plugs directly into the antenna port on WiFlyer’s
side to give you improved signal strength, signal
distance and data transfer performance.

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OPTIONS

      The WiFlyer Unit
may be used in conjunction with Always On Wireless’s
WiFlyer Accelerator, a high speed web page compression
software package for enhancing the perceived speed
of dialup Internet browsing and email up to 6x times
the normal experience. At $29.95 for 6 months, subscriptions
are fairly priced, especially if you spend a lot
of time on dial-up connections downloading large
files.

BUGS
AND WISHES

      While I can find
very little to dislike about the little unit, It
would be nice if each WiFlyer purchase came with
a free trial subscription to the download accelerator
software. It’s an intriguing program and I think
that allowing customers a free test period would
convince many to subscribe full-time.

PURCHASING

      WiFlyer can be purchased
from the Always On Wireless Inc. Online
Store for $149.95.
      WiFlyer Accelerator can be purchased from the Always On
Wireless Inc. Online Store for
$29.95 for a 6-month subscription.
      The Hawking Hi-Gain 6dBi Omni Antenna can be purchased from
the Always On Wireless Inc. Online
Store for $48.95.

PROS


  • Compact


  • Very
    good range


  • Simple
    to set up for both Ethernet and Dial-up applications


  • Small
    charger compliments unit

CONS


  • No
    trial subscription to WiFlyer accelerator


  • Only
    available in (admittedly nice) grey color

Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean?

OVERALL
IMPRESSION

      I used to carry
my Apple Airport Base station with my Powerbook to
just about any place I went because I love the convenience
of wireless. Unfortunately, the airport was roughly
the same size as the Powerbook and so was rather cumbersome.
Now I get all the functionality of the Airport from
a device no larger than my iPAQ. It’s smaller than
any of my portable drives, even. And for me, the added
convenience is worth the price of admission. I would
recommend this device to anyone looking for a wireless
access point that may EVER desire to travel with it
at some point. You will have to spend a bit more to
buy the small model, but should you ever need to bring
it with you, you will no doubt be glad you did.

 

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