When I think of an antenna, the first thing that pops into my mind is an image of the old rabbit ears that used to sit on top of my TV set...

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When I think of an antenna, the first thing that pops into my mind is an image of the old rabbit ears that used to sit on top of my TV set when I was a kid. Perhaps I’m dating myself once again as I reveal such imagery to you, but there it is.

Now ask any kid today what an antenna looks like, and they’re more than likely going to describe something that looks like a dish. And why not, since the satellite dish has become the antenna icon of the 21st century?

So it seems only natural that when you design something that’s supposed to receive a modern computer radio signal of some kind today that you make it look like a dish. And that’s exactly what they’ve done over at Hawking Technology in designing their small antenna to receive a Wi-Fi signal.

The Hi Gain Wireless-300N Dish Adapter is the focus of this column. It’s curious that Hawking chose to not call their product an “antenna” but rather an “adapter.” My guess is that it’s a marketing thing since when you think about it, the word “antenna” really does carry along with it an anachronistic connotation.

So it makes sense even if that really wasn’t their intention. It’s also interesting to note that they do use the word “antenna” in their product description where they compare a “dish antenna” to a “standard antenna.”

Evidently when you say “dish antenna,” you really are covering all of your bases for both past and present. So for the purposes of this column, I’ll be using the word “adapter” to describe this product.

The adapter actually uses a built-in dual antenna that concentrates the wireless signals it receives. Hawking claims that their Hi Gain Wireless-300N Dish Adapter extends your wireless network six times and boosts your data throughput 12 times and is calling it the most powerful 802.11n wireless networking adapter on the market. It’s backward compatible with the older Wi-Fi standards as well.

To install the adapter, just plug it into any available USB port and run the included setup CD. Hawking suggests that to obtain the maximum wireless range, direct the little dish toward the general direction of your wireless source — typically a wireless router.

Hawking makes a version of its Hi Gain Wireless-300N Dish Adapter for Windows and a version for the Macintosh. My guess is that they are probably functionally identical units but packaged with a CD that works with the corresponding platform. In either case, the adapter really does look kind of cool sitting there on your desk so if you’re into geek chic, this baby’s got your name all over it.

The suggested price for either the Mac or Windows adapter is $79.99.

Lenovo IdeaPad U110 notebook

Lenovo

www.lenovo.com/homeoffice

$1,900

Wow! That’s the reaction you’ll hear when you work on Lenovo’s IdeaPad U110 notebook.

Designed with an eye-catching raised red pattern on the top cover and a black cover with vents sporting the same tendril design on the back, the notebook opens to reveal a frameless 11.1-inch widescreen backlit display.

Weighing about 2.3 pounds and measuring 0.7-inch thick, the notebook features a built-in 1.3-megapixel camera and face-recognition technology that can grant access to your mug and snap a picture of anyone who tries to log in without permission.

The $1,900 model includes a 120-gigabyte hard drive, wireless connectivity, an external DVD burner, a 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of memory and the Windows Vista Home Premium operating system.

— Deborah Porterfield

Gannett News Service