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Why Your Wi-Fi Sucks And How It Can Be Helped, Part 1

Why Your Wi-Fi Sucks And How It Can Be Helped, Part 1
By
Please Power Down

“All you bloggers need to turn off your base stations,” an increasingly annoyed Steve Jobs told the crowd at the June 2010 iPhone 4 demo. “If you want to see the demos, shut off your laptops, turn off all these MiFi base stations, and put them on the floor, please.”

In a crowd of 5000 people, roughly 500 Wi-Fi devices were active. It was the wireless apocalypse, and not even a fleet of Silicon Valley’s finest backstage engineers could do a thing about it.

If this example of 802.11 extremity sounds inapplicable to your everyday world, refer back to August 2009, when Tom’s Hardware took its first look at Ruckus Wireless's beamforming technology in Beamforming: The Best WiFi You’ve Never Seen. In that story, we introduced the concepts of beamforming and examined some competitive test results in a big office environment. As enlightening as this was at the time, there is clearly much more of the tale to be told.

This literally came home to me a few months ago after setting up a nettop for my children and using a dual-spectrum (2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz) Linksys 802.11n USB dongle to connect to my Cisco small business-class 802.11n access point. The wireless performance was horrific. We couldn’t even stream YouTube videos. I assumed the problem was the nettop’s feeble processing and graphics capabilities. One day, I tried substituting the 7811 wireless bridge kit from that previous piece. The difference was instantaneous, and video looked perfectly fluid. It was as if I had plugged in a wired Ethernet connection.

What was going on here? I wasn’t in an auditorium filled with 500 live bloggers crushing my connection. I was using supposedly best-of-breed small business Cisco/Linksys gear that I’d personally tested and knew had higher performance than most competing brands. It wasn’t enough to have switched to the Ruckus-based wireless bridge. That left too many unanswered questions. Why was one product performing better than the other? Why had editor Chris Angelini himself observed in our original article that not only did the up-close proximity between his client and the access point impact performance but so did the shape of the AP itself?

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Top Comments
  • 64 Hide
    iamtheking123 , July 6, 2011 5:18 AM
    Really TH, you think I'm going to click next 27 times and Read more another 27 times? Sorry, but I'll read this when it is put on one huge page.
  • 29 Hide
    bellman80 , July 6, 2011 8:00 AM
    *Why Your Article Layout Sucks And How It Can Be Helped*

    Just read all the comments above. I know it's free content and I actually like the article, but you should really take a look at all the feedback you are getting.
  • 22 Hide
    Anonymous , July 6, 2011 6:21 AM
    Why does every page require us to hit Read more to see the full text? Do you think most people who read this article will prefer to only read the first 1/3rd of every page?
Other Comments
  • 64 Hide
    iamtheking123 , July 6, 2011 5:18 AM
    Really TH, you think I'm going to click next 27 times and Read more another 27 times? Sorry, but I'll read this when it is put on one huge page.
  • 16 Hide
    lunyone , July 6, 2011 5:30 AM
    Where's the usual "jump to this section" that usually is with Tom's articles/reviews? I have a hard time clicking for 27 times too, but would prefer a click down menu to select the topics that most interest me or to at least have the option to jump ahead, if I so desired.
  • 5 Hide
    nekoangel , July 6, 2011 5:35 AM
    Use the pictures to jump, sadly there are no caption on them.
  • 11 Hide
    cmashwin , July 6, 2011 5:46 AM
    Dear THG.. it really is a big hassle clicking 10 buttons dat dont load fast enough to read five lines.. R u worried abt copyright thingy? pls pls give us an easy to read comprehensive page to read ur wonderful articles and dont make it difficult.. As an eg, to read dis article, I had to load it in 2 different browsers n click 54 times!! come on give us a break!!
  • 2 Hide
    proxy711 , July 6, 2011 6:08 AM
    Really? hes just trying to avoid a wall of text. i don't see the big deal. Thanks for the article.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 6, 2011 6:10 AM
    i gotta say the thumbnail gave me a laugh
  • 22 Hide
    Anonymous , July 6, 2011 6:21 AM
    Why does every page require us to hit Read more to see the full text? Do you think most people who read this article will prefer to only read the first 1/3rd of every page?
  • 8 Hide
    nativeson8803 , July 6, 2011 7:45 AM
    I'm not reading this.
  • 4 Hide
    openi3 , July 6, 2011 7:51 AM
    I believe I know why this article was written like this... the salesmen that need to know this need you to draw them a picture....
    Hang around the wireless router/dsl section of your local PC hardware store and listen to the stories...
    My favorite one was where two kids persuaded their mom that they needed a $120 wireless range booster for the grandmother's notebook which was in a tricky part of their property to reach. How about giving them a $5 phone cable and a better access point for $30...
  • 29 Hide
    bellman80 , July 6, 2011 8:00 AM
    *Why Your Article Layout Sucks And How It Can Be Helped*

    Just read all the comments above. I know it's free content and I actually like the article, but you should really take a look at all the feedback you are getting.
  • 10 Hide
    Fokissed , July 6, 2011 8:06 AM
    Quote:
    Sometimes he sends in a beach ball or a dog.

    ROFL! But seriously this layout sucks.
  • 5 Hide
    Haserath , July 6, 2011 8:15 AM
    Very nice article! It was very informative. I didn't mind having to mouse click 27 times...I don't get what their problem is about that though I think the "read more" should be replaced with loading the full explanation. I can't wait to read part 2.
  • 10 Hide
    tacoslave , July 6, 2011 8:18 AM
    Never do this again toms. But something tells me your not going to listen to us.
  • 5 Hide
    madscrilla , July 6, 2011 8:19 AM
    In what way does the huge pictures help in understanding the point of the text?
  • 1 Hide
    openi3 , July 6, 2011 8:32 AM
    Quote:
    In what way does the huge pictures help in understanding the point of the text?


    Have you ever read a book to a 4 y o?
  • 21 Hide
    cangelini , July 6, 2011 8:41 AM
    bellman80*Why Your Article Layout Sucks And How It Can Be Helped*Just read all the comments above. I know it's free content and I actually like the article, but you should really take a look at all the feedback you are getting.


    We do, regularly. This one ended up in a picture story; the next one will go into a regular review format!

    Thanks for the feedback, guys.
    Chris
  • 0 Hide
    opmopadop , July 6, 2011 8:51 AM
    This was a hard one to read William. Im not too sure what you could have changed (as this stuff is very technical). Regardless Im eager to read your conclusion.
  • 0 Hide
    winner4455 , July 6, 2011 8:55 AM
    I don't have any problem with the way this is set up - and I do have to say this was a great read. I learned a lot, thanks for the article!
  • 4 Hide
    DavC , July 6, 2011 9:05 AM
    very thorough article. skimmed through most of it, but still learnt quite a bit.

    But please Toms, as everyone else has said, sort out your format. its a simple thing, but spoils the reading.
  • 19 Hide
    Anonymous , July 6, 2011 9:54 AM
    Not only is being FORCED to click ~27 times completely wasteful of your readers' time, it is also nonsensical to have a "Read more" and "Read less" option that hides 3 sentences. You literally have to click over 50 times (half of those in different locations since the text is always different) to read this article.

    Seriously, 4 year olds are not reading your articles. If someone DOESN'T want to read more, why on Earth would they not just STOP READING. Do you have an option that says "Stop looking at pictures"? How about an option that says "Stop having ADD and being illiterate"?

    Are you afraid that 15 sentences might entice readers but 18 sentences are going to scare them away? What planet are we from that this makes sense...as a scientist and computer programmer I always try to be as skeptical as possible that I am wrong and think of ANY possible mistake or oversight that I have made, but I cannot think of ANYTHING that would explain these ludicrous layout choices.

    If I have clicked "Read more" 15 times, maybe just maybe you should keep track of that and not force me to click ANOTHER 15 times? Do most readers have such an attention deficit that they have to reconfirm to you their intent to read your article every 30 seconds?!
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