Wi-Fi has been standard issue on laptops for many years now, but the internal antennae used to connect to a network (usually built into the laptop lid) are seldom sensitive enough to latch onto a weak signal — which is often the only kind available on the fringes of a campsite.
One solution for a weak Wi-Fi signal is an external antenna mounted to the side or roof of the van, but few laptops have the necessary antenna socket to connect this to. Which is where the new Solwise NET-WL USB Catcher comes in.
The USB Catcher consists of a USB Wi-Fi adapter ‘dongle’ that connects to a laptop’s USB port and is used instead of its onboard Wi-Fi (and works in essentially the same way). The adapter supports 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi for faster connections than 802.11b/g adapters, though it will still work with those slower networks.
The key, however, is that the dongle also has a connection for an external Wi-Fi antenna and comes with a 4.5m lead with a weatherproof N-type connector that attaches to an antenna outside the van.
A Wi-Fi antenna isn’t supplied, but Solwise has a range of models with prices starting from under a tenner. The USB Catcher costs £32.44.