Published on October 13th, 2011 | by Greg0
Tall, Dark, And Adventuresome: C. Crane’s Super Antenna
In a perfect world, our cities would be blanketed by strong omnipresent wifi signals right now. Municipalities and governments and corporations would have teamed up to realize the dream of wireless internet everywhere- which of course would disrupt the powerful service providers and the many locations that make money charging for the privilege. So, for now, access is far from universal, but that doesn’t mean you need to worry when you end up in a place without a solid internet connection.
When you’re stranded, or simply don’t have the time or money or patience to deal with the ISP, C. Crane’s US3 Super USB Wifi Antenna 3 is just the ticket. It won’t necessarily help folks with only a tablet or smartphone- you might be able to wrangle sharing the connection, but you’ll need a laptop or desktop to use it. Most operating systems are supported- Windows XP and newer, as well as Mac OSX users will be fine, and it even works on Linux (though it is unsupported officially). Installation is theoretically simple- plug in the antenna via USB, and you’re more or less set. We found it well worth the time to tweak the setup though, by using extensions to get the antenna located in a higher, less blocked location. Suction cups are provided to help mount the antenna, and though it is lightweight, the size makes it fairly conspicuous (hard to get away with using at a coffee shop or cafe).
Once we had it setup, our busy section of the neighborhood became almost overwhelming with available spectrum. Where normally we’d have seen 12 or so networks, instead we found closer to 40! This was an urban location, and several of them were not password protected, meaning that we could have jumped on to free access immediately. We also ran some tests in areas with less density and fewer obstructions, and though we never reached the theoretical mile-long distance that they claimed, we were able to connect to networks about half a mile away on a regular basis. Signal strength on closer networks improved dramatically, often going from 2 or 3 bars to full 5 bar rates. This antenna supports 802.11 B, G, and N, and though it’s limited to 150 Mbps, we didn’t notice any major speed difference versus antennas that supposedly offer double that rate (uploads were slower, but not significantly).
They pitch the item to farmers and ranchers, as well as RV owners, but we certainly can see applications for it in more urban environments. At $100, it’s a great deal for those who need it- more effective than uni-directional competitors, it’s also more durable thanks to the weatherproof construction. Bottom line: it’s the best antenna we’ve tried, and looks pretty futuristic as well.