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Testing the Freedom Blade

Tue May 27, 2008 - 8:06 PM EDT - By Jennifer Chappell

Overview

A few weeks ago I reported on the Freedom Blade after seeing a video by Chris Leckness over at Mobility Site in which he demonstrated how well the Freedom Blade worked with his AT&T card in his laptop.

The Freedom Blade is an antenna that will increase your data speed. With a large diversity of signal strengths across wireless networks in airports, hotels & other remote locations, increased data speeds makes your wireless experience more rewarding. The Freedom Blade uses the same patented technology as the Freedom Antenna® and works with all major wireless carriers and technologies.

Features:

  • Perfect for Cell Phones, AirCards, PDAs, Laptops
  • For Home, Work, Travel
  • Decrease Dropped Calls
  • Reduces Dead Spots
  • Enhanced Voice Clarity
  • Works with all Major Wireless Carriers

As I've mentioned before, I don't get a very good signal here at my house. It's hit or miss most of the time. It might be because we're located downhill and are surrounded by woods on one side. Anyway, after watching the video, I read about the Freedom Blade on the Arc Wireless website and then ordered one from wpsantennas.com.

I got the Freedom Blade a couple of days later. It sure is a lightweight item. Inside the package were the Freedom Blade antenna and the connector cable and a little stand for the antenna. The instructions are printed on the packaging. The adapter for the Treo 680 was inside the box separately as you have to order the adapter for your specific phone.

wpsantennas didn't have an adapter for the Centro at the time, so I got one for my Treo 680. A few days later, Matt from wpsantennas contacted me and let me know that they were working on a prototype for the Centro. He very kindly sent me one a few days later and I tested the Centro adapter and the Treo 680 adapter with the Freedom Blade. Thanks Matt! ;-)

The new Centro adapter (WA-1037) is now available and in stock over at wpsantennas.com for $14.95.


I had been just looking at the number of bars I had on my device when doing the testing. Matt let me know that a more accurate test would be putting my phone into test mode. He said that the Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI) screen is much more accurate than the signal bars on a phone. Matt sent me the instructions to put my Treo and Centro into test mode so I began using that method to test the Freedom Blade. Putting your phone in test mode is very simple. If you have an AT&T Treo or Centro, you press #*744625 on your keypad and hit the Send button. A screen will come up showing your RSSI and EC/LO (signal to noise ratio). Sprint users can press ##33284 and dial. Verizon users press #*#33284.

Closer to zero means a better signal, but with AT&T phones, the higher the number, the better your signal.

As I mentioned earlier, I tested both phones. I first looked at my signal on the Treo 680 without having the Freedom Blade and adapter hooked to it. My results can be seen in the screenshots above. My RSSI was 6. Then I switched off my Treo 680 and connected the adapter to the antenna port. Of course I removed the little rubber plug first. ;-) I turned my 680 back on and dialed in the test mode numbers. I then had an RSSI of 11, so my signal did indeed improve. I took the phone and antenna to several areas in my house to test the signal. An RSSI of 11 was the best I got and 6 was the worst.

Next I tested my Centro without the antenna connected. You can see my results in the screenshots above. I got an RSSI of 7. After connecting the antenna, I got an RSSI of 9. After much testing throughout my house, the RSSI of 9 was the best I got. So the Treo 680 gets a better signal than my Centro.

I went over to my Mom's on Sunday as my whole family was there and we celebrated my sister's birthday and had a cookout. As soon as I walked into my Mom's house, I turned on my Centro and tested my signal. I had the test mode number memorized by then. ;-) I had a much better signal at her house. I had an RSSI of 13 and 14. My sister had her Treo 680 with her. I tested her signal and she had an RSSI of about 16-18. I sure wish I had a great signal at my house like I did at my Mom's!

All in all, the Freedom Blade does work and gets me a better signal. It's very easy to set up and use. I believe that I might need a better solution though because of my pathetic location. My office has the worst signal and there are 3 computers and a phone in here, so that probably has something to do with my poor signal. I had the best signal when I was standing in my kitchen, which is a large and open space. Your signal could also depend on what type of siding you have on your house.

I was just reading on the TreoCentral forums today and saw a thread entitled "External Antenna Adapter for Centro?". The thread was started back in November 2007 by forum member jul81after. Forum member floridatony talks about having a signal problem in his home and says that he bought a more expensive solution that works great for him.

Heck, I'm happy that I get a signal at all on my phone. As I've mentioned before, I know people who can't even use their cell phones at their homes because of not getting any signal at all. I'd hate to have to walk up my driveway or stand out in the road just to get a signal. With the Freedom Blade, I went from barely having a bar to an RSSI of 9, so I was pretty happy with the results.

Note: Special thanks to Miles for emailing me and sending me this link to an interesting article on carrier femtocell pricing. ;-)





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