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Published on October 13th, 2011 | by Greg

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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.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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