My 93 year old mother lives about 2000 miles away, so I don't have a lot of access to the setup for experiments. She is on dial-up, and doing anything but text based email is painful, if not impossible. I can read my web-mail faster by driving 5 miles to the library and back.
She has some wonderful neighbors, who have offered the use of their wireless network IF we can get a decent signal. The Mac Mini she has contains another piece of Apple's crap antenna engineering, and it can't see a thing. My cheapo netbook can get one & sometimes 2 bars in the same room. The room the Mac lives in is on the side of the house facing the neighbors, and there is a window out of which you can see their house, maybe 60 feet away.
So, the plan is to get a range extender or its functional equivalent. I figure the best bet is to get a dual antenna box (for multipath mitigation) with removable antennas. That way if the box won't do it by itself, we can upgrade the antennas for more gain.
The info I've found from a cursory search is pretty vague. From a theoretical standpoint, I can see two options:1) Get what amounts to a wireless adapter that I can plug into the Mac with a long enough cable to get across the room to the window. That would have to be Mac compatible.
2) Get a box that communicates on one channel with the neighbor's wireless system, and then talks to the Mac on another channel. That's what I would consider a "repeater", and presumably it wouldn't require anything Mac specific to get it up & running.
The two brands I've found with upgradable dual antennas so far are the Amped R10000, which as gotten a lot of good reviews on Amazon, and the Hawking HWREN2, which has a lot fewer reviews, several of which are pretty scathing.
There is also an upgradeable single antenna box specifically for Macs:
It connects via USB, and is presumably just a highpower wireless adapter.
Can anyone clarify exactly what is meant by a "range extender" (i.e. are they all basically just repeaters?)?
Any specific suggestions about good boxes to get or avoid would also be appreciated.