Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Hawking HSB2 HiGain Signal Booster
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on October 29, 2008
I want to start by qualifying my comments - I'm a 16-year IT professional. I'm an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) certified from Windows NT 3.51 up to present (Windows 2003). I am also an MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) had have taught Microsoft technologies for over 12 years.

The first thing to understand about the product line from Hawking Technologies is this: these are not Fischer Price toys. When you get into the arena of boosting signals of your wifi network...or extending...or repeating the wireless signals of your wifi network....you are dealing with intermediate to advanced technology implementation.

I am reading through the reviews on this product and there seems to be this recurring "expectation" by various people....that they are buying a fool-proof product that will install itself. Well.....that's not the case and these people bring on their own frustrations.

Hawking Technologies offers this signal booster product so that you can add it to your existing WIFI router. As such there is ALWAYS a chance of compatibility issues. There is no "magic way" to make a third-party product compatible with every vendor's router. That's just not realistic.

Still, I have recommended and installed this particular booster product for at least three dozen SMB clients (small-to-medium-sized businesses) throughout NJ and NY. I have had fantastic results with each application and have not seen a SINGLE INSTANCE where the product failed after a short time period (something I've read from some reviewers).

I have been recommending, installing and supporting this product for approximately four years now (beginning with the company's first version and now their revised implementation; which is almost identical).

Furthermore, my experience with Hawking technical support has been very good; compared to that of much larger companies (such as Dell....whom I believe have the worst technical support of any large technology vendor).

Perhaps Hawking has "outsourced" their customer service to a third-world sweat shop in India just as every other medium or large IT vendor has in the US. Don't get mad at the vendor for that, people.....get mad at your politicians and our country's legislation; which makes it profitable and financially practical for this scenario. Yes, I absolutely HATE IT when I have to deal with broken-English, non-professional and disgracefully underqualified customer support people in sweat shops. These people are earning ten cents an hour with no bathroom breaks....so what can we expect?

And with regard to the inaccurate owner's manual....well.....that is valid but NOT MAJOR!! Yes, Hawking needs to revise their installation manuals such that they are accurate and easily digestible. It's silly that they haven't remediated that problem yet; considering that the paperwork is for a best-of-class product. Still......this is ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY and people can't rely on a manual in order to make this product work for them. You may need an SMA to TNC adapter; depending on your application. Any local Radio Shack should have in stock what is needed to make it plug in. I suggest packing up both the router and the booster and bring it right to your nearest Radio Shack. Have the counter guys and gals gather up for you the couplings and cables that you need for connectivity.

What matters most of all is that this product is the best booster available for the price range and for the class of application (home usage). I have installed MANY of these into mission-critical business environments and have enjoyed outstanding results EVERY TIME.....WITHOUT EXCEPTION.

Additionally....someone mentioned a health risk associated with using this product at the maximum setting. RUBBISH!!! IN A PIG'S EYE!!! People really make me laugh. As one of my mentors once said....."The Internet is a cesspool of misinformation so beware". True indeed!

I have installed industrial, omnidirectional WIFI towers that emit a hundred thousand times the radiation as this product. These towers are only dangerous when a human stands right in front of them. From five feet away....there is no health risk. Thus, the notion that this small device is a health risk is complete made-up nonsense. Go ahead and put the device in the cage with your gerbil and it will live a long, healthy life.

Lastly....the noise that this device creates is so insignifigant....I can't believe how many people are complaining about it. You can only hear it when you're right on top of the unit so it will only be an issue if you intend on strapping the booster to the side of your head. If not (hopefully NOT!!!) there is no concerns about the noise. Put it in the corner next to your WIFI router and it won't bother anyone...I PROMISE!!

I do not give up five-star recommendations easily but Hawking Technologies is one of those companies that excels infinitely at their specialized market nitche. This signal booster is the "only show in town" and I whole-heartedly recommend it above all others. When you receive it and open the box, you will be immediately impressed by the obvious workmanship and engineering that went into it.

Not only will it improve signal strength throughout your home or office but it will improve your wifi throughput SUBSTANTIALLY in every way.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you use a signal booster, you increase your SECURITY RISK enormously. Your neighbors may pick up on your boosted signal even stronger than their own indoor wifi router signal. You will have effectively offered your WIFI network to an extended and unwelcomed audience. Accordingly.....be SURE to revamp your wifi router's security. Use WPA instead of WEP if all your machines are compatible (WEP is, for all intents and purposes....fairly hackable). Use STRONG passwords for wifi access to your network. Be sure that your firewall is properly setup. Exercise as much security as is possible without compromising your network's functionality.

And stop thinking about it and buy this product. You'll be GLAD that you did (believe it).

PS: This is a purely objective review of Hawking Technologies' signal booster product. I'm not affiliated with the company. I simply call 'em as I see 'em.
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on January 22, 2007
Ok, my network was perfect and then FiosTV came along. The mandatory Actiontec Router, would not play well with my Linksys range booster. So, I figured I would give this a try. It works! My signal went from 1 to 2 bars to 3 to 4 bars.

Only 4 stars, because for some reason the instructions don't mention hooking this up to a router. But another Amazon reviewer did it and I also saw a review on CNET where it says that this product is designed to be hooked up to your router. So why don't the instructions say that? Anyway hook it up to your router, especially if it's the FiosTV Actiontec router.
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on December 16, 2006
For me, this is truly a plug and play device that delivers the goods...set up was done in literally two minutes. I simply needed more signal strength, as some my machines suffered from a marginal signal. Now, all of them receive an excellent signal. For signal strength needs, I really think this device is something that should tried first before going to the alternative--wireless range expanders/extenders.

Wireless range expanders, which require configuration with routers, can work very well once set up correctly. But many people I consider tech-savvy (including myself) have pulled their hair out making them work.

Bottom line, this did the trick for the Actiontec router that came with my FIOS service. At $90, it is pricey, but the time savings is well worth it. And think of the additional time saved if you ever change your router or network!

Some people here mentioned problems with this booster, but I still think that this is the first method to try...worse case scenario, you can always return it :)
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on November 18, 2008
Was super easy to hook up as long as you don't let the enclosed manual confuse you. I simply unscrewed the antenna on the Verizon Router and hooked up the enclosed cable in it's place. One end of the cable screws onto the router, the other screws onto the Hawkins Booster. The booster comes with an antenna but it's quite short so I decided to put the antenna that was on my router onto the Hawkins Booster and the signal strength was greater than using the antenna that comes in the box. You then connect the power supply of the booster and you're good to go. I'm using the booster in a 2600 square foot house with the booster on the first floor towards the center of the house. I checked signal strength on two HD Tivos and noticed that the upstairs Tivo went from 45% signal strength to 60%. My downstairs Tivo went from 55% signal strength to 80%. I'm happy with this result but thought that perhaps I'd get even more signal strength thus my 4 stars. I realize that everyone's home is different and that your results could vary. Also the placement of the booster makes a big difference. Sometimes just moving it a few feet can cause movement up and down. My booster is on a shelf approximately two feet above the router. If you have the Verizon Fios Router and want to boost your signal in an easy way, I highly recommend this booster.
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on January 7, 2011
Ignore the install directions. They wrote the instructions for install on a computers network card with attenna. Most computers don't have attennas on the network card anymore. If you do, then follow directions. Keep in mind if you install the HSB2 on a single computer (instead of router) you will only gain on that single computer.

I installed on my router so all my devices gained signal strength.

Step 1: unplug your router (as precaution)
2: unscrew routers existing antenna
3: connect provided cable to routers antenna port and the HSB2 (you might need an adapter the provided cable is SMA)
4. Screw provided antenna into HSB2
5. Plug in router and HSB2
Optional: select switch on HSB2 for mW output, up to 500
You are done.

I have my router in the basement but get perfect signal two stories up and outside. Prior to installing I would drop signal in certain rooms and outside.

My HSB2 has a slight "electrical" hum. No big deal to me because it's in the basement. It is so faint you need to get your ears about 2 feet away to hear.
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on April 5, 2010
Although I'm not an engineer and while I appreciated his review I feel the Hawking HiGain Signal Booster HSB2 deserves my additional review. The short version is that this signal booster really works. As someone who has a DSL wi-fi modem that is located several very solid walled rooms away from my main living room/entertainment room I needed a stronger signal than the one that I was getting. While my laptop had very good speed, my Xbox 360 and PS3 systems had an indicator of only 1 blinking bar of signal strength. Contributing factors included the fact that these systems are shelved in a large wall unit and have their wi-fi antennas located on the rear of these consoles. After calling Verizon for help and being told they have no way to provide additional equipment to increase or relay the signal I resorted to researching the many computer mags trying to get a consensus as to the best product to remedy this issue. Not knowing what products would definitely be compatible with my existing equipment didn't help either. I wanted something that was fairly simple and that would work. I researched signal boosters on Amazon and after reading the product information and the reviews I decided to give the Hawkins HSB2 a shot. I was a little apprehensive because of the less than sensational reviews.
Now after a month or so after installation and use I can honestly say I don't fully understand their less than enthusiastic opinions. This signal booster was not only easy to install, about 20 mins. including moving my computer desk, the immediate results were very impressive. The aforementioned barely blinking less than one bar of signal strength went to an outstanding 3 to 4 solid bars, with 4 bars in this case being the maximum signal. The laptop signal is now completely maxed out. As for the humming sound others have noted, it can be barely heard in a completely quiet environment if you also hold your breath. As a precaution I initially installed my HSB2 just outside a room door in a hallway however I don't think that's needed with the exception of the unit being placed in a bedroom of a quiet sleeper. Overall this product is outstanding and has done everything that I hoped it would.
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on September 19, 2012
Even though this is a 802.11b/g booster and the MI424WR Rev I is 802.11 b/g/n, it works. I just plugged it into my actiontec router and it doubled the signal strength in the farthest part of my house. I called Hawking to find out if I should get the 802.11n booster, and was told not to; the actiontec is finicky and doesn't play well with others. I was further told that if I wanted an 802.11n booster, to get the HW2R1 which is twice the price of this one and is not plug and play.
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on November 13, 2012
I purchased this item in order to expand my signal throughout my entire house and apartment, as I have a large home with concrete walls (earthquake building code). Super strong house, but wireless really suffers due to all the concrete and steel in the walls.

Sadly the Hawking HSB2 did nothing for me. My signal footprint remained exactly the same. I tried the device on an Asus Router, as well as a Buffalo router.

Regardless of the power setting switch, my signal range remained exactly the same. The installation is idiot proof, almost impossible to install it incorrectly. Simply remove the antenna from your router, and attach the unit to the router with the supplied RMA cable....and you're good to go.

Perhaps I got a faulty device....impossible to tell. In the end I went with a Zyxel Range Extender kit which worked perfectly. So if this device does not work for you.....try this:-

Buy yourself an ethernet range extender kit, and another router...of any sort...it should not matter. Connect one of the range extenders to your primary router's LAN port. Plug the new router into the other Range Extender ethernet port (you can use either the WAN or LAN port on the second router, depending on if you want the second router to establish a subnet). The second router should be installed in the part of your house that suffers from low signal....obviously.

You will be pleased with the result. I only wish I thought of this solution before....I could have saved myself $50. Good luck to all.
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on June 14, 2007
Increased my signal from 20 to 41% on a 500 foot connection thorugh a few trees using a pair of 14 dbi antannas (building to building). This is using wireless mixed b/g mode
The previous power output of linksys router and linksys access point on each side is about 90 mw. Used the 500 mw setting on the signal booster.
(the second antanenna on the wireless router is a 7 db ominidirectional antenna and this works well for connections in the house)

So far have only used one on the base station --14db directional antenna and it seems to work well.

I cannot give the same recomendation for the linksys wireless router and access point, which every once in a while looses the plot and has to be manually reset. From what i have read on the forums all consumer level wireless access points and routers appear to suffer this fate for a sagnificant number of users once more than one or two devices are in operation. I have found that setting static ip addresses for devices reduces the problems to about half, but still not perfect.
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on February 22, 2012
Hawking makes good products and this is no exception. I have used this to find signals I otherwise could not. I have used this to boost weak signals. I have owned this since 09' and it works as advertised. Three separate levels to boost. The only issue I have is on the higher boost, there is a faint whine. It is very faint but I can hear it if it is kept close. Put it further away and you wont' hear a thing. I would rather have a completely silent product but I guess that is a trade off when boosting the signal to the maximum level.

Please click YES if my review have been helpful to you, it will encourage me to continue writing and updating my reviews, and leave a comment if you have any questions, I will be more than happy to answer if I can be of help.
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