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How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

Question: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

Hello, and thank you in advance,

I helped my visually impaired friend purchase a new Asus
X73E-BH51 17.3" Laptop with 2nd Gen Intel Core i5-2430M with Turbo
Boost 2.0 8GB DDR3 640GB HDD. She is happy with the purchase.
However, the wireless signal strength on her machine never seems to go
higher than three bars, while on my laptop (a different make) sitting next
to hers is up to five bars and working very quickly. I feel terrible
having recommended this laptop based on research done by another
friend the previous year.

Is there a way to make her laptop receive the wireless signal at a
higher strength? It would be so gratifying and it would sure help me
not to feel guilty about her purchase based upon my "words of wisdom."

This laptop should go like the wind with 8GB RAM and turbo boost,
but, it loads slow as molasses. She is able to Skype with folks, but,
often the video breaks up or is otherwise not clear. This also
troubles her a great deal with "a brand-new computer that doesn't
work!" Any help would be greatly appreciated, so that I can fix it for

- Submitted by Alida
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Wireless Strength

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

It appears you just bought the laptop? If so I recommend you return it to the dealer. It could be a bad network card in the laptop but that should not make it run exceptionally slow except for while you are connected to the internet. If
you have the slowness while not connected, it should not be all that slow. That laptop wont be a speed demon anyway.

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Wi-Fi Reception

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

Hello Alida,

This is a new laptop right? And hopefully it is still under warranty. If so I recommend taking it back to tech support and have them check the wi-fi card. As with any electronic device, even new ones, they can sometimes be faulty. Another thing you could try is connect via Ethernet cable to see if the page loads quickly. If this way works then go into device manager and uninstall the wireless card and then search for new devices and reinstall it. I hope this at least starts in the direction towards the resolution.

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Wi-Fi reception

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

Need more info. Is this outside Wi-Fi reception?? Is this inside with router?? Is this with Dial-Up??

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Coupla things

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

Just a couple of ideas. One is to make sure that you have the latest wireless network drivers for the laptop installed. This can make a big difference.

Another thought involves with checking/changing your router configuration around. This may help, or may not. I'd try different channels, try 1, 6, or 11, and see if the laptop does better with any of these. Make sure that the router's channel width is 20MHz., too (I assume we're talking about 2.4GHz. wireless). Oh yeah, and make sure the router and laptop are set for WPA2/AES security.

And if none of this helps, it may be a defect in the laptop...that's what warranties are for *smile*.

The last resort is to get a good external USB wireless-n network adapter. Just shop around some, Newegg or Amazon (my two favorite places), read the reviews carefully. The most expensive wireless-n adapter is not necessarily the best. You're looking for a 300 or 450Mb/s adapter with excellent reviews *smile*.

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Notebook wifi

In reply to: Coupla things

Sometimes its not the wifi...but the chip and software that the notebook uses for the wifi card that is built in...sometimes the software's overhead has a lot to do with it...poorly written drivers or just a cheap crappy chip is used. sometimes an external usb wifi adapter can solve the limitations in this case remeber to shut off the onboard wifi adapter when you do this

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What about the USB antennas to boost signal

In reply to: Coupla things

Do the USB antennas do any good for wireless signal improvement? It wasn't mentioned in the reply.

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improving wifi reception

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

I wonder where the wireless router is located? It is also very possible that the band that it is transmitting is also one that another router nearby is also sharing and thus interferring with the signal strength. There are ways to change to a different sub band using the router software setup . If the router is behind walls that absorb a lot of signal, it might be necessary to get a second router that costs like 35 dollars and have it act as ar repeater. I do that myself in fact. The worse scenario if none of this works which I think is unlikely is to use a direct ethernet connexion but before I went taht way, I would connect the laptop directly to the router and set the appropriate settings into the router and the laptop with a hard wired setup..this guarantees better connexions from then on....Many do not realise that that works the best way..good luck and is not the laptop. It is a perfectly good machine.

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LapTop WiFi reception

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

I agree with take it back to the dealer as soon as you can, if they want to send it out get your money back (well her's).
Other wise I would contact the maker ASUS and explain that the the WiFi problem, the rest of the information is not needed and could be confusing to them. Remember this is their product and she/you are not their friend, do not get personal (so much).

In the past I have contacted the maker for new and very old systems and found they were very helpfull. If they want it back or want to repair it or test it and repair. SEND IT TO THEM

JUST; be sure to state what problem is. " THE ONE problem ! "

Every time I do send something to the maker they want to fix something that workes fine. Also they will put some additional maintenance software of theirs in the computer, you do not need it.

You did buy a very good product, for sure. It should spin wheels around the place.

But BOTTOM LINE: If you are not happy with it get your money back and look elsewhere.
P.S. I live in Spain and do not know the language so the internet and the product maker is my best source even if they are a different Launage. They will come back in English, if I tell them my language. There is no need to install theirs on your computer even to communicate.

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The problem may not necessarily be with the wi-fi.

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

Firstly are you really sure that the problem is with the wi-fi signal.

The reason I say this is because if it's getting 3 bars on the wi-fi that is normally quite acceptable and shouldn't really cause that many problems. My main laptop regularly has 3 bars, and my PC sometimes goes down as low as 1 due to a lot of the radio interference we have in the area (we live right below one of the RAF monitoring stations in Shropshire so we get a lot of interference from that on all radio frequencies).

Wi-fi can be really funny, it's the same as with any radio technology - I completed my City & Guilds RAE and have a full amateur radio licence and due to this I know a bit about what can affect radio signals and believe me there is a lot, and also you can find that one device will get a perfect signal whilst another device can get a poor one, although I would hardly call 3 bars a poor signal.

The main things that will affect the receiver is the position and length of the antenna. In a laptop you don't normally see the antenna because it's normally run around the edging of the screen. Depending on where the antenna is it can affect the signal quality, for example if it's next to something that is giving out a load of EMF (electro-magnetic fields) that isn't probably shielded (like a hard drive, or CPU) then this can cause very severe problems with the signal - same as when you put a radio near a computer and you get that awful noise. Most computers should be shielded enough from the wi-fi to stop this from happening though.

The actual position - or polarisation of the antenna can also affect signal quality. Some antennas have vertical polarisation and others have horizontal, some are omni (both) and some can be turned to suite your needs. Polarisation works on the orientation of the antenna, if you think of a stick antenna, vertical is when it's straight up (the main way most people put their antenna) and vertical is when the antenna is sidewards. I presume that in the laptop you will not be able to alter the polarisation (it's most probably a vertical loop going round the inside of the screen), however on quite a few routers your can change the polarisation, if the router has antenna's on it, try turning them around and you should notice either the signal gets stronger or weaker depending on whether it's vertical or horizontal. This polarisation does have a very good use when you want to block unwanted signals. For example in some hilly areas you may notice TV aerials on houses some are one way round where as others look like they've been mounted on their side, this is not a mistake this is deliberate, in some hilly areas they have repeater stations set up to repeat the TV signal round the valleys, and by setting one repeater up as a vertical transmitter and the next up as a horizontal transmitter they can transmit the signal on the same frequency without interfering with the other signal, this also happens a lot on satellite TV when tuning in some channels are on vertical and some horizontal and the LNB turns the antenna to the correct orientation, this is so they can fit more channels onto the satellite bandwidth.

Finally an antenna has to be a certain length to be of any use, you have things like quarter wave, half way or full wave. The length is the length of the frequency you are trying to receive for example standard fm radio is about 100mhz which is about 3m so a full wave antenna for FM radio should be about 3m long (1/2 is about 1.5m and quarter wave is 0.75m), this gets shorter the further up the frequency you go - amatuer radio uses about 144mhz which is about 2m and wi-fi uses 2400Mhz (2.4Ghz) which a full wave is about 12.5cm. However in a laptop you really shouldn't have to worry about any of these measurements as the antenna wire should be pre-cut to them lengths, it could be that one laptop is closer to 12.5cm long antenna than the other and that may be why the signal is a little bit weaker, but the signal being only 2 bars weaker really shouldn't be causing the problems you are saying.

I would say that the problems you are having are possibly software issues, looking at the spec of the machine it certainly seems fast enough to cope easily with things like Skype, I know some of those "netbooks" certainly struggle with a lot of things and can be a nuisance, but looking at the spec I can tell it's certainly no netbook. There are a few things you can try to eliminate software issues which no doubt if you call up the tech company they will probably tell you one of the same things.

The first thing I'd suggest you try if your quite good with technology - download a Linux Live CD - like Puppy Linux, and attempt boot the laptop from that. Set Puppy Linux up to connect to the wi-fi (some tech knowledge may be required here) and try using it under Puppy, the wi-fi drivers in Puppy actually give you a number rather than bars as to how strong a signal it is receiving (at present in my house I have two routers - one is receiving at 39/70 (just over 50%) - this router is on the other side of my house and is my main internet router and my other router is getting 61/70 - this one is about 6ft from this laptop).

After testing it on a linux live cd for a while if it seems to work fine then it is most probably some kind of driver or software issue within Windows, if however it does the same in Linux it's highly likely to be some kind of hardware issue. If it is a hardware issue, shut Linux down - on shut down it may ask if you want to save settings to the hard drive - don't save the settings or anything, then remove the CD and get it fixed under warranty, although I highly suspect that you'll find it is software related rather than hardware. I've fixed numerous PC's over numerous years and a lot of the time I find it to be some kind of problem with Windows rather than the actual hardware.

Now if it is software I'll tell you exactly what the tech guys will tell you to do - Do a system restore. On the phone to them the first thing they will tell you to do is to do a system restore (this is even if you've tested it with Linux and found it to be a hardware issue - btw if you did test it with Linux it's never a good idea to tell them as they may try and say you've invalidated your warranty by running another OS or some rubbish like that - even though a linux live CD does not touch any part of the PC it's just their way of getting out of paying out). When doing a system restore ensure you backup everything from your laptop you wish to keep - photo's, documents, files, mp3s everything you don't want to loose put it on an external drive, and then remove the external drive and put it somewhere safe. When doing the system restore do not have any removable drive plugged into the computer at all (USB drives, flash drives, memory sticks, etc), you probably wont erase them but it's not worth the risk. Then just run through a full system restore to restore back to factory settings (normally to get into this you will probably have to press F12 when the computer is booting up, or sometimes it can be F8 - it depends on the computer and the instructions on how to do this should be in the manual).

After doing a system restore you should then find Windows has cleaned up any software issues it may have had.

If it continues to have problems though try updating the drivers, and if your competent enough with technology see if there is a BIOS upgrade - nb you should only ever do a BIOS upgrade if you are confident enough with technology, plus when doing a BIOS upgrade ensure your laptop is running on mains power with a charged battery and during the upgrade DO NOT attempt to use the computer, or switch it off, or disconnect it from the mains at all. A BIOS upgrade is the most dangerous thing you can do to a laptop, but sometimes it is necessary, if it does go wrong it can render the laptop useless as the BIOS is a tiny piece of software that tells the PC exactly what to do next when it's first turned on, so without that software the laptop wont do anything which is why it is so risky to do.

If none of the above solves your problem contact the manufacturer and describe the fault to them and see if they can help.

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In reply to: The problem may not necessarily be with the wi-fi.

Heads Up
In para 4 - you describe the vertical twice, when the second is for the horizontal alignment.
For clarification to other readers...

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Thanks for that correction...

In reply to: syntax

I always get my vertical and horizontal confused and this time I managed to type vertical twice - oops Happy - vertical is straight up (a vertex being the highest point) and horizontal is along the ground (along the horizon).

Thanks for the correction

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wi-fi reception-

In reply to: The problem may not necessarily be with the wi-fi.

Thanks for the info on "radio" interference. I start my mornings on the Patio with my lap top & portable "radio" for about 2 hours , no router , just wi-fi - E-Mail & delete is slow. I shut off "Radio" this AM , and ditto , normal speed.
Thanks for the info.

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Some more thoughts here

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

1. Not all WiFi cards work well with all WiFi routers, esecially if different brands. Theoretically they should, but they don't.

2. Consider the antenna (s) on the router and the laptop. (See darrenfoster99 - The problem may not necessarily be with the wi-fi). Try tilting over the router antena if it swivels to change the polarization. Also getting consider a 3rd party higher gain antenna.

3. Consider the router "channel change", especially if you have other 2.4 GHz devices around like cordless phones. As I recall channel 11 minimzes the overlap. Also move to something else besides channel 6 which is often set as a default.

4. Remember that signal straingth loss is based on the material (air, glass, wall board, steel, concrete). If the signal is passing through obliquely, the loss will be much greater than passing directly through (move the router or get a repeater).

5. Every wireless card manufacturer has their own management software that can "overlay" the Windows managment software. These are not the hardware drivers. They often have different display mechaisms (bars, numbers, etc.). To compare apples to apples, disable these and use the standard windows interface.

6. Last ditch - reinstall the entire OS, drivers, etc. from scratch without the "bloatware". ASUS is pretty good job keeping their drivers updated including the BIOS, and BIOS can change several times in the first year or two of production. As Mentioned elsewhere, be positively sure you have a fully charged battery and are plugged in when you do this. At itmes you may find newer versions at the OEMs download site than at ASUS who reposts them. But rarely all manufacturers have the drivers "modified" at the computer builder's site.

7. Since you have 8 GB RAM, I assume you have a 64bit OS. Make sure you find 64-bit drivers (not the older 32-bit) when you look for them (in some cases there are no differences).

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Router Antenna

In reply to: Some more thoughts here

WSalomon, while I go along with most all you have said, I'd like to point out, that in this case they were using two computers and got different strengths. The router ant. tilt would not make a difference here. That is, unless they were connecting from different locations in the house and not side by side. Then, it would/could make a differenct.

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This is a good one, and you can also try.

In reply to: Some more thoughts here

I would try to solve the "slow" situation. check your firewalls, antivirus programs, they can lock up a computer like a woman in a corset and a chastity belt... ask a geek friend if the proper ports are opened for the particular program you want to run. A good virus program can scan in real time any data coming to the computer. Scanning a Skype session would be unesscary. That would interfere with your "reception" as well. I think Skype uses a UCP protocol. have a geek friend make sure that antivirus programs and the laptop firewall are allowing the ports and protocol to "pass thru". Do you have a lot of programs that load up and are on "standby" for use? this can slow the computer down under any circumstances.. Need a good Geek buddy to look at it and tell you. You can Search "Skype Protocols" and it will give you good information. You may find others with similar frustrations. HP likes thier "Media Manager" running in the background, Windows bloat is cald that for a reason, a lot of unwanted programs waiting around checking for when they are needed to make feel better, and interfering with an excellent computer. Hope you can make sense of this, with a Geek friend..

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In reply to: This is a good one, and you can also try.

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In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

First, go into your "All Programs" which is usually on the start menu.
Next, DISABLE the built-in wireless that came pre-installed on your laptop.
Try a wireless-N USB adapter. Make sure your default wireless is disabled, or the 2 will "fight with each other." I love D-link adapter; I use it with the router (also D-Link) which is a wireless N router that is backwards-compatible with both b or g capabilities as well. No matter how many computers are on my wireless network at a time, there is never a lag in loading, booting up, etc. Even when my son, who is really a gamer, was using his Netgear adapter, the speed was still great. Also, if both adapter and router are D-Link, you can just push the button on first the adapter, then you have 2 minutes to go to and push the router button. They should automatically connect. I also know from personal experience that Asus' customer service, unless it's improved dramatically, leaves much to be desired. I wish you and your friend the best; I too am visually impaired, but thankfully computer literate.

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Most likely hardware issue

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

Try some troubleshooting steps, then contact the manufacturer if the issue is not resolved.
-Open the device manager in the control panel. Expand Network Adapters. The wireless network device usually has WLAN somewhere on it. Uninstall the wireless device by right-clicking on it and selecting "uninstall". Then restart the laptop.
-Not fixed? Again, in the device manager, right-click on the same wireless device and select properties. In the dialog box that appears, hopefully there will be an advanced tab. Here, you can try changing things such as the roaming sensitivity level, wireless mode, etc. Try changing the wireless mode from b/g/n to b/g, although this normally shouldn't affect signal strength.

Assuming that the problem is caused by faulty hardware, usually this is not too difficult to fix. In most laptops, the wireless capability is provided by a separate, small wireless module or network interface card(NIC). The NIC plugs into a slot, is held in place by a screw, and has wires connected to it which run to antannae on the top of the LCD back panel. Most wireless problems are fixed just by replacing the wireless NIC. On some models of laptop, you can very easily access the wireless NIC by unscrewing a bottom panel or door. But you'll probably want the manufacturer to replace the wireless NIC for you and TEST the wireless.

Best wishes!

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May not be WiFi.

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

You mention in the third paragraph that it loads slow. Plus even one bar will give you a fairly fast network speed, so it sounds more like the laptop is the problem. It may be running something taking all the processor up.

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New Computer overloaded?

In reply to: May not be WiFi.

They have in the past overloaded new PCs with a bunch of free programs. Task Manager should show what PROCESS(es) keep the CPU busy. [Sort by clicking 'CPU' until the high numbers come to the top.] You may have to look on the internet and see what a Process does (by its name). If you find one with a high number that belongs to a program (not part the Windows system) that you have no intention of using, then go uninstall it in Add or Remove Programs. I assume this is found in Control Panel in any Windows OS.

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Previously Used, New Computer?

In reply to: New Computer overloaded?

If the computer was previously 'owned' and had numerous installs and uninstalls or go mixed up with a hacking site and its cruddy hooks into the system (and possibly installs) then the Registery (if nothing else) has a bunch of directions that do not connect to anything and cause the system to search for a long time to try and find them. The largest company that deals with such concerns is Norton with its Norton Utilities. Otherwise, you may risk using one of those free registry scanning site's install and see what all might be wrong.

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Wi-fi inteference

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

Just something to check -- I was having an issue almost identical to yours, finally realized that a 2.4 GHz cordless phone was causing the problem. Affected some devices but not others. Replaced phone with newer 6.0 GHz model and problem vanished.

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yes a very good culprit

In reply to: Wi-fi inteference

some cordless phones even though they use 2.4 ghz...on a different channel than the network wifi have very broad frequency ranges and even off channel from the network do cause interference on adjacent and even sometimes on all the channels

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Wi-fi Interference

In reply to: Wi-fi inteference

Yes, good point. A wireless mouse, keyboard, and/or headphones can also interfere and cause connection drops. My son has problems with his PS3 wireless while using Sony wireless headphones.
Alida's laptop may be better at tuning out the noise than the new one.

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There are a couple of things you can do

There are a couple of things you can do:

I haven't had anyproblems with Dlink or Linksys modems. I would go out and buy a wireless N modem and they can be a card for a laptop or USB Wifi adapter. I bought a Netgear modem and it must have been a bad modem but I felt burned by the whole thing. The reason you want N is because it has the longest signal but I've experienced people at work who went out and bought something that was N that couldn't drop down to wireless G but I've never had that problem.

If you don't want to spend money, you can build your own antenna:

I have another link on how to build an antenna but Cnet might consider it a competitor to their business so I won't list it.

You can add a Wifi antenna like this one but you might be picking up Wifi connections from a mile and a half away but aiming them is trial and error and there is a lot of rf frequency in front of a 24db dish at 2.5 ghz so it is sort of like your microwave and you don't want to cook anything:

This link was given to me by an engineer and I'm guessing there are few engineers on Cnet.

Just remember that antennas have different types of connectors and they are RP SMA or PP TNC. But you would want a half watt usb adapter (they come with an rg8 cable) with rpsma jack for easy connection to the dish because that is the connector this internet link uses. Some of them come with a duck antenna and radio frequency can be tricky indoors so you might want to aim it up a little. If you use the antenna outside, you might want to mount the connections in a waterproof box.

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There IS another althernative....

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

I am surprised that this device has not been mentioned. Assuming you lack the signal strength when at home (and there is a nearby standard electrical outlet most anywhere else in the home), then you should consider buying a
"powerline network converter." They are sold in sets of two; one for the router's end, the other for your nearest electrical outlet to the laptop.

Plug one into the router and it's wall connection (NOT a power strip!), and the other device into your other outlet; then plug in a 6' Cat6 ethernet cable from there to your rig.

You will have a better, stronger connection that via wifi, and some models offer additional ports on both ends. Their costs vary, but range between $80 - $200.

Eliminates the need to be a computer tech just to get connected to the net!

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Weak WIFI reception

In reply to: How do I improve the Wi-Fi reception on a laptop?

Hi Alida: Many of us also have this problem, and here's how some solved it. First of all, find out how strong the received signal is by left clicking on the 5 bars icon in the tray on your friends computer.. This brings up the Wireless WLAN card utility which shows you lots of data about the signal. In the lower right corner is the signal strength meter which shows the signal strength number; write down what level the signal is. For 3 bars lighted it should be around -70 to -80 dBm, which may work OK for text but is not strong enough for graphics. Record the same strength with your computer when moved so only 3 bars shows; this shows you if both computers are about equal on WIFI signals, then measure the signal strength on you computer with all 5 bars illuminated.. Your friend will need a stronger signal, somewhere around -40 to -60 dBm for consistent reception.

Now, how to improve the signal strength? One simple way is to move your friend's computer, while looking at the signal strength meter, all over her house, moving it up, down, turning it 90 degrees clockwise and counterclockwise (as we don't know how the antenna is oriented) to the right, to the left and I hope that you will find a much stronger signal. If it works, email me at, I'd be happy to know.

Another simple way is to buy a WIFI signal extender, one that just plugs into the USB connector is the simplest. It both boost the received signal strength into your computer and the transmitting strength when you are sending.

As it is a new computer, all your drivers should be updated. If nothing works, take it back to the dealer and check another of the same model and if all are weak in WIFI get another computer make, but check out the WIFI reception before taking it home.

With my best wishes,

Joe D.

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Run on both laptops side-by-side and see if...

In reply to: Weak WIFI reception

Run on both laptops side-by-side and see if you really have a problem. The bars seem pretty subjective.


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Recommended why

There is so much information lacking from your question, Alida, that it appears you are probably the wrong person to recommend computer purchases. 8GB of RAM? Did it come with a 64 bit operating system so that could be used? Three bars? Of what, Dove? Turbo Boost? Like they used to do in the 1980s with routers? Who told you the Skype performance is related to the signal strength? What carrier do y'all use? Why is a visually impaired person using video? Return this equipment to the store, have your friend provide her requirements to them, have them install it and make it work properly, and stay away from making recommendations about equipment you aren't qualified to specify. You're one of the folks we end up having to pick up after, needlessly. Recommending something that doesn't work and then coming here with comments about bars is disingenious, at best, and you won't learn from it, as you do not provide information as to why you are unable to make this simple setup work.

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The Longest Journey

In reply to: Recommended why

The old saying "the longest journey begins with the first step" still rings true in this modern age we live in. We are all on the same journey, some of us have traveled further, and we can well remember the time when we took our first few steps, with trepidation and uncertainty, but there were others around to provide encouragement, not condescension. When we help our fellows, we help ourselves at the same time and in this way we grow towards our potential as human beings.

There have been times in my life when I have given out advice or recommendations where I was unqualified to do so. I have worked at it, but perhaps I am still unqualified even now, and depending on the situation my advice could be inappropriate or incorrect due to my mis-interpretation of the question, the situation, or the person involved. The most I can do is to offer suggestions intended to be helpful, uplifting, encouraging, but which remain open to argument and debate and criticism (the constructive kind preferably).

We are all subjected to judgment in this life, and I think we should endeavour to keep it to a minimum, keeping in mind that what comes around also goes around, as they say. None of us wants to be the proverbial "pot calling the kettle black" after all. I don't want to make any assertions about someone's qualification to offer advice, or someone's worthiness to make "disingenious" comments here in this forum. However, if I were to offer such an assertion, I would have to say that in my opinion, I would much prefer the company of people in this forum who are polite, helpful, non-judgmental, and can share some positive energy with the rest of us. But then again, sometimes a person can just be having a bad day, and I'm sure we all can understand this feeling.

Thank you for receiving my contribution to this most interesting discussion which started out as something technical and in my view has evolved into a matter of ethics and social science. Conversations about computers must also include the people who are using them, don't you think?

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