Powerbook Airport Extreme has extremely bad performance

kubark42

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 17, 2005
41
0
My brandnew 2005 PowerBook can't pick up signals that my old PCMCIA Orinoco 802.11b card from 2001 could pick up. Extremely inexcusable.

Any possible work-around or is this aluminum case going to make me regret buying a PowerBook instead of a iBook until the end of my (its) days? Or perhaps something's not right with the card...?
 

Rod Rod

macrumors 68020
Sep 21, 2003
2,175
2
Las Vegas, NV
kubark42 said:
My brandnew 2005 PowerBook can't pick up signals that my old PCMCIA Orinoco 802.11b card from 2001 could pick up. Extremely inexcusable.

Any possible work-around or is this aluminum case going to make me regret buying a PowerBook instead of a iBook until the end of my (its) days? Or perhaps something's not right with the card...?
iBooks have far better Airport reception. I've compared PowerBooks and iBooks side by side and there's no question about it.

The possible workaround is to situate your wireless access point closer to where you usually use your computer, or get a second access point and set up WDS.
 
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Logik

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2004
616
0
kubark42 said:
My brandnew 2005 PowerBook can't pick up signals that my old PCMCIA Orinoco 802.11b card from 2001 could pick up. Extremely inexcusable.

Any possible work-around or is this aluminum case going to make me regret buying a PowerBook instead of a iBook until the end of my (its) days? Or perhaps something's not right with the card...?
the aluminum is what is causing the problem. i combatted this problem in my house (which is already incredibly horrible because of the walls and paint (probably lead paint underneith the newer paint) by getting an airport express and setting it up to connect to my linksys router. works wonders i get full signal everywhere now

Your orinocco card is a superior card in all ways. of course you definitely paid for it. which is "extremely inexcusable." LOL.. good god man, you buy a top of the line card and expect a bundled product to match it? :rolleyes: you came into this with unrealistic expectations. wireless is wireless, there's a crap load of variables in this equation.
 
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Bear

macrumors G3
Jul 23, 2002
8,089
4
Sol III - Terra
These is a possibility that something is not correct.

The first think I would check is to see if the antenna is plugged into the AirPort Extreme card and seated correctly. It could be plugged in partially.

There could also be an issue with your card, but that is harder to check for. You would need someone wil a similar system at the same place to see if their card responds the same or differently.
 
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MacTruck

macrumors 65816
Jan 27, 2005
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0
One Endless Loop
Solution: get another base station and put it on the other side of the house. Works great. OR get some aluminum foil and make some rabbit ears for your computer. :D
 
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swindmill

macrumors 6502a
Mar 17, 2005
944
4
KY
I don't get near as good reception in the classrooms throughout my school with my new PB as I did with my PC laptop, which had a standard g card. Unfortunately, I can't do anything about the school's wireless network, so I just don't get reception in most of my classrooms (which might not be a bad thing). It does seem like Apple would have figured a way around this, but it's not that big of a deal to me. I still smile everytime I get my PB out ot its bag. :D
 
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mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,199
5
Adelaide, Australia
It's really not good enough that the iBook gets so much better reception than the PowerBook considering the massive price difference. Sure, I realise the aluminium is going to affect the performance but still, these are expensive machines from a leading company, they should and could do better.

Sorry, I'll stop ranting now and get back to hugging my iBook. :p
 
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andrewfee

macrumors 6502
Aug 29, 2004
467
2
You might want to try changing what way the Powerbook is facing, if possible. There are two plastic bits on the side of the lid for airport / bluetooth, so maybe if they're pointing towards the router/access point you'll get a better signal.
 
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kubark42

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 17, 2005
41
0
Those are all good responses, especially the part where andrewfree says that the antennas are located behind the plastic bits on the side. I'll look into that.

Still, I find it inexcusable that my top of the line laptop has bottom of the line performance, and an orinoco card, as awesome as it is for many things, has really crappy reception compared to any other integrated wifi card. (You just can't shoehorn an antenna into the side of a pcmcia card and expect anything better than mediocre performance, especially once considering the polarity of the wifi signal.) So the fact that my orinoco has *better* performance really makes my blood boil.

I don't use the orinoco card for many reasons. For starters, I didn't pay $2000 for a computer that performs better with 2001 parts. Furthermore, it adds bulk.It's for the same reason that us windows converts hate the idea of a one button Mac. We want less things to carry around, not more.

Since I have a small business where I install wifi networks for a living, it's more than a little inconvenient. I wonder if calling Apple would do a whit of good?
 
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Applespider

macrumors G4
It might be worthwhile checking to see that the antennae cord is properly inserted into the airport card if the performance is that poor.

I've never had a problem with my PB's airport performance. I was able to jump onto the Hilton's wifi network in Chicago while staying in the hotel across the road without any difficulty.
 
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kubark42

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 17, 2005
41
0
Applespider said:
It might be worthwhile checking to see that the antennae cord is properly inserted into the airport card if the performance is that poor.

I've never had a problem with my PB's airport performance. I was able to jump onto the Hilton's wifi network in Chicago while staying in the hotel across the road without any difficulty.
Heh. I'm looking into it right now. Just trying to figure out how to physically access the aiport card... I'm looking on the forums, but if anyone decides to send me a link in the next few minutes, I wouldn't mind.
 
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wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,124
2
North Carolina
For all those chiming in about PB versus iBook Airport reception, I've made a direct comparison between my iBook 14 and my wife's Al15, and the difference is MAYBE half a bar. In fact, in most cases I get the same number of bars, but occasionally the iBook will have 4 when the AlBook has 3. There was a bigger difference back in the TiBook days, but now there is virtually no difference.

edit: this link should have the instructions you need.
 
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RGunner

macrumors 6502a
Jul 3, 2002
695
92
Midnight Sun
actually

homerjward said:
if it's a 15" or 17", why not just turn internal airport off and use the orinoco card?
you cannot do that, there cannot be two physical cards installed at the same time, prevents the desktop or laptop from starting. one could remove the airport extreme card and install a PCMCIA card of course. just cannot have two cards at once, something built into the Apple hardware prevents this.
 
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CanadaRAM

macrumors G5
kubark42 said:
Heh. I'm looking into it right now. Just trying to figure out how to physically access the aiport card... I'm looking on the forums, but if anyone decides to send me a link in the next few minutes, I wouldn't mind.
On a recent AlBook: Take out the battery, the AirPort card is in a slot accessible from inside the battery compartment.
 
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Rod Rod

macrumors 68020
Sep 21, 2003
2,175
2
Las Vegas, NV
wordmunger said:
For all those chiming in about PB versus iBook Airport reception, I've made a direct comparison between my iBook 14 and my wife's Al15, and the difference is MAYBE half a bar. In fact, in most cases I get the same number of bars, but occasionally the iBook will have 4 when the AlBook has 3. There was a bigger difference back in the TiBook days, but now there is virtually no difference.
That may be the case when the signal is relatively strong. Further away from the access point, the difference is dramatic. I was at my buddy's apartment with my old iBook and I saw four of his neighbor's access points, and with his 15" 1.25GHz PowerBook he was only able to see two (one of them intermittently).
 
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LeeTom

macrumors 68000
May 31, 2004
1,538
96
RGunner said:
you cannot do that, there cannot be two physical cards installed at the same time, prevents the desktop or laptop from starting. one could remove the airport extreme card and install a PCMCIA card of course. just cannot have two cards at once, something built into the Apple hardware prevents this.
Not only CAN you have a PCMCIA wireless card in the Mac, but it can be used at the same time as the internal AirPort card.
 
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daveL

macrumors 68020
Jun 18, 2003
2,425
0
Montana
I have a TiBook 1 GHz. I also have a PC laptop in which I've used D-Link and Cisco WiFi cards, with both Win2k and Linux. Both these machines (PC in various configs) have occupied the same spot in the living room, plugged into the home stereo. They both accessed the same Wifi access point located on the floor below (a cement block and stone basement level). They have all had virtually identical signal strength and delivered similar performance streaming music and transferring files. Go figure.

I don't know about the newer PBs, but I know with the Tibooks, there was an issue on some units where the internal antennae (one on each front side of the base) would become partially or fully detached. This would, obviously, affect reception. Users were having great success going in and re-seating the antennae.
 
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wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,124
2
North Carolina
Rod Rod said:
That may be the case when the signal is relatively strong. Further away from the access point, the difference is dramatic. I was at my buddy's apartment with my old iBook and I saw four of his neighbor's access points, and with his 15" 1.25GHz PowerBook he was only able to see two (one of them intermittently).
Okay, looks like you're right. From my living room, right now I can see four neighbors on my iBook, and only two on the powerbook. However, the AlBooks are still a HUGE improvement over the TiBooks. My TiBook got maybe 1 bar in the farthest reaches of my house, compared to 3 on the AlBook.
 
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RGunner

macrumors 6502a
Jul 3, 2002
695
92
Midnight Sun
Well I guess we agree to disagree.

LeeTom said:
Not only CAN you have a PCMCIA wireless card in the Mac, but it can be used at the same time as the internal AirPort card.
I know of two instances where this does not work (from personal experience). On a PowerBook Pismo, and a Quicksilver 2001 edition. When a standard Airport card is installed, NO other PCMCIA or PCI Airport card can be used.
 
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kubark42

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 17, 2005
41
0
CanadaRAM said:
LOL :D
Full marks for spunk, at least!
Hey, I was *pissed* when I discovered that. :mad: I mean, I've taken a big plunge going for a Mac, I paid a price premium, and I salivated for the longest time about having a good wifi connection like all my friends instead of my crappy, yet feature packed, orinoco card. Apple is supposed to be about things that just *work*, you know. I mean, it cost a fortune more than an equivalently powered PC, so I was expecting at least equivalent performance. I'm very disappointed to see that Apple has chosen for function follows form. They did the same thing with QuickTime (no native Xvid support) and iTunes (come on guys, I'm NOT changing my entire open format, will play on any system in the world oggs into closed format *.aac. Not even if Steve Jobs calls and asks real nice.).

Meh, I'm just ranting. Honestly, I love the PowerBook. I won't ever regret changing to OS X.
 
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EJBasile

macrumors 65816
Apr 20, 2004
1,304
2
my house is roughly 5000-6000 square feet an i get 4/5 bars pretty much where ever I am with my 12" pBook. In some rooms on the 2nd floor on far from the basestation I get 3/5 bars. I have a linksys wireless B router located in my basement. I get reception in rooms where dell laptops cannot.

Odd
 
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Rod Rod

macrumors 68020
Sep 21, 2003
2,175
2
Las Vegas, NV
EJBasile said:
my house is roughly 5000-6000 square feet an i get 4/5 bars pretty much where ever I am with my 12" pBook. In some rooms on the 2nd floor on far from the basestation I get 3/5 bars. I have a linksys wireless B router located in my basement. I get reception in rooms where dell laptops cannot.

Odd
Maybe the 4th gen 12" PB has enhanced antennas or something. If they can improve the hdd and trackpad, well it's possible.
 
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