Which is Best?
We chose four different WiFi boosters both for our survey and our technical testing. Each booster had slightly different characteristics and features making the results very interesting. What was of particular interest to me with the survey was the following: What was the main purpose of the boosters? How would they be used? How did people (and in particular RV'ers), view their various features and benefits?
Let me first share with you a summary of the feedback, after which we'll drill down more on their technical performances before we get to our conclusion.
Typcial WiFi Problems That People Have
What do they say, misery loves company? Well it's nice to know that you're not alone in struggling to try to find a good WiFi signal. Here's some of the comments on the biggest problems:
So it looks like there are several problems here. Not only getting a stronger signal, but getting a steady, solid signal, as well as having a fast data rate. We'll cover how our boosters perform in these areas later.
- Lots of times I can show a signal but can't connect to the internet
- The need to drive 1/2 mile to office for service. No phone service at some parks makes connecting impossible.
- Seems like several locations we've been in you have to be "right there" at the antenna, or at least within 100' to do any good. Otherwise we're constantly dropping off the network or it's very slow.
- Slow transfer rate.
- Was on the fringe of the rv parks WiFi, needed booster to receive.
- I am always the one stuck in the laundryroom looking for signal. A booster would mean I could check my e-mail without freezing in the laundry room.
- Had to move outside the motorhome whenever I want to connect, then slow connection.
- Low signal strength resulting in extremely slow and or frequent drop outs.
- Where we live most of the year, the WiFi signal seems to drift. Sometimes it's relatively strong, then moments later, it disappears, dropping our connection. This drives us crazy!
- While my MiFi aircard works in many locales, it is totally worthless where there is no cell access such as between mountains and at extensive distance from metropolitan areas. A dependable WiFi backup would be worth about $50, since most RV parks supply a semblance of WiFi, though it's usually weak and overly in demand by other campers.
- One campground I attend yearly tells us to stand under the shed near the pole..........in January. dah!
What Factors Are Most Important?
To be honest, I'd expected Price to be the No1 factor, but I was pleased to see that for many people, having a system that would REALLY work, was easy to use and was portable was more important. The results from the survey were, in order of importance:
Some of the comments that I thought were interesting related to the issue of installing an external antenna (not wanting to drill holes in the roof), the possibility of velcro'ing the unit to a window to get better reception and increase the dekstop space, having a unit from a reputable company that stands by their product, the health aspects of having a 1W transmitter up close, and the multi-platform (Mac / PC) capability.
- WiFi range (4.7 / 5)
- Ease of Use (4.6 / 5)
- Portability / Technical Support (4.2 / 5)
It's hard to rate a system without seeing it or using it, but based on our description, we did get some excellent feedback. It seems as if results fall into two groups. One favoring a higher power, external based antenna. The second favoring a smaller, desktop model. For the later, a couple of people had tried the High-Gain Directional model and were not very satisfied. Here's some of the feedback:
course, no one wants to spend more than they have to, but there was a
pretty consistent theme that people are willing to pay to solve the
problem, and that you get what you pay for. A price point of $50 - $100
seemed to be about what most people were willing to spend.
- Don't the idea of having to find which direction I have to face it each time I camp at a park and trying to keep it pointed
- The 1.2W High-Power External booster seems like it would be the best solution as it could be mounted on my flag pole for better reception
- A directional antenna may not work as I would have to change it to pull in different hot spots
- I have tried the directional booster and mini antenna with little success
- Think the 1W High-Power Desktop would free up precious counter top space by attaching to a window
Click on the chart to take you to the article on the detailed Product Test of the various boosters. The bottom line is that the High Power External and the 1W Desktop Antenna fared the best. But how would they stack up when we add in the other criteria from our survey such as price, ease of use, etc?
Each of the factors from the Product Testing Feedback were incorporated into the test and then rated. More important factors were weighted higher than less important ones. Here's a summary:
The bottom line? If you want the ultimate in range and speed, it has to be the High Power External Antenna. Even though it is best mounted on the roof or ladder, the benefits are immediately apparent. If you need something more portable and affordable, then the 1W Desktop Antenna is a great all round performer and offers exceptional value for money.
Both of these WiFi booster solutions are available from TechnoRV. Call or email and ask for Phil.