If you live in a built-up area and suffer from a weak wireless signal on your home network, the Hawking Hi-Gain 12dBi directional window antenna is worth a look.

The rectangular antenna, which is styled like a socket extension, can either be attached to your window using suckers, or to your wall by screws, and offers a much stronger signal over standard 802.11b/g routers.

Improved Wi-Fi

Unfortunately, you'll also need an external USB Wi-Fi stick - even if your laptop already has a wireless capabilities - as the Window Antenna has to be connected to the adapter's aerial. For this review, we used Hawking's wireless 108G USB adapter (£18 inc. VAT).

It needs to be connected to the Windows Antenna with the provided cable. It's a simple case of unscrewing the aerial from the USB stick and connecting the wire, but this approach stops you enjoying the freedom found when using a regular wireless network.

Configuring the device to a network can be tricky for first-time users. This is due to the drivers being hidden on the supplied disc. Once up and running, we found wireless performance was greatly improved.

We tried using the laptop in a different room from the router, with several walls in the way, and at a considerable distance.

Strong signal

Using our regular Wi-Fi adapter, signal strength was low, showing up to only two bars and occasionally encountering network problems. Using the external Wi-Fi adapter and Windows Antenna, we had no such problems.

Signal strength was excellent, maintaining a stable connection and showing up as five bars on the Windows Wireless Connection manager.

If your router is stored in a separate room and you need a stronger signal, Hawking's Hi-Gain Windows Antenna is a potential solution. It's not without problems, however, and it's frustrating that you'll also have to buy a plug-in wireless adapter.