What is not to like about wi-fi? You get rid of all those wires and you can walk around your house or apartment and access your email or the internet. But there is one (1) very major drawback to wi-fi - poor signal strength. A Wifi laptop with limited range will often produce frustrating slow internet performance or dropped connections that take your laptop offline.
In order to experience all the great benefits of a wifi laptop you need to correct the poor signal strength problem. To do this and improve the signal range of a wifi laptop there are three options you should consider.
1. Read your laptop documentation to see if it supports add-on antennas. Visually check to see if "SMA jacks" are available. The jack will look similar in appearance to a headphone or microphone jack. Install an external wifi antenna on the laptop.
2. Check to see if the wifi laptop has an unused USB port available. If there is an open port try connecting a USB wireless network adapter with external antenna. It will mount onto the side or back of a wifi laptop via a short USB cable. The signal range will be improved by the external antenna on these adapters, and the antenna can be directionally positions for fine tuning. When using this solution other network adapter(s) on the laptop should be disabled to prevent interference.
3. Check the transmission power settings on the network adapter. Some support adjusting the transmission power. This setting can be adjusted through the adapter's driver interface program, and the transmission power should be set to "maximum" or "100%."
Check the wifi laptop's power saving mode. Sometimes they lower the power consumption at the expense of the network adapter's range and signal strength.
Many of the notebook computers being sold today already have a built-in wifi network adapter.
The FCC has said they don't know of any federal or state laws that make it illegal to log on to an open network.
Many retail establishments like McDonalds or Starbucks offer wifi hotspots. Also, many libraries and other public facilities will provide a hotspot. If you're willing to drive around, in the downtown area or the suburbs where the houses are close together a few minutes of laptop experimentation will most likely reveal a couple wi-fi networks.
If you are not near a hotspot and you want to see what networks might be available from your location do the following: First, sit near a window (Wi-Fi signals travel better through glass than through solid walls). Stay away from metal objects. Most importantly change your wifi laptop's orientation by rotating it. Just a few degrees could find a network that couldn't be seen before.
Raise the wifi laptop over your head, put it flat on the floor, tilt it sideways while leaning halfway out the window, stand on a chair, etc., etc. In other words, just like you have done many times trying to find a cell phone signal, do the gymnastics required.
Once you've located a signal you will need to determine if the network is password protected. Certain names are a giveaway that a network probably won't be password-protected. Look for "linksys," "default," "Wireless," "NETGEAR," "belkin54g," and "Apple Network 0273df." These are the default network names for the most popular wireless routers. It's a good bet that if a network owner hasn't taken the time to change the default name, they probably didn't set a password either.
Hackers love giving away Net access, an all-lowercase name like "hackdojo" is most likely an invitation to log on. On the other hand, a name in all caps is typically a network under corporate lockdown.
If prompted for a password, try "public"— which is the default on many of Apple's AirPort units. Or you can try common passwords like "admin," "password," and "1234". There is no specific law that makes it illegal to guess a network's password. As long as you don't crack an encrypted network and read other people's transmissions you should be within the limits of the law.
Check out this short video on how to set-up and configure a wireless network.