The Hawking HWUN1 Hi-Gain Wireless-300N is a draft-n wireless USB adaptor for your desktop or laptop PC.
Hawking's latest addition to the growing roster of draft 802.11n wireless hardware is a bijou USB adaptor, aimed primarily at laptop users. Clad in a glossy white shell, the tiny Hawking HWUN1 comes complete with two conventional antennae, a recognition of the fact that you can't hide them inside a USB casing if you want to properly take advantage of the benefits of draft-n.
The Hawking HWUN1 is based on the same Ralink chipset as the similar-looking EnGenius ESR-9710 adaptor we reviewed recently, a popular choice among draft-n manufacturers.
The Hawking also uses much the same client software but where it gave us grief with the EnGenius, it worked as expected with the Hawking HWUN1. That said, it still offers the user a fairly awkward user interface (UI), one that would have looked stilted in the days of Windows 95. For example, you have to first set up a profile so that the device knows what router to connect to.
While the software UI might be a bit stale, the hardware is bang up to date. The Hawking HWUN1 offers such modern conveniences as Wi-Fi Multimedia support which guarantees an uninterrupted, prioritised data flow when streaming video or audio; plus WPS or Wi-Fi Protected Setup, which simplifies the use of very secure wireless encryption. There is, however, no ‘one touch' button on the adaptor which would make this simpler still. On the encryption front, the superior WPA2 with AES is supported.
As a nod to its laptop users the Hawking HWUN1 comes with a simple spring-loaded clip that lets you hang the unit off the back of your screen, a useful add-on, although it could pinch too hard on your LCD screen.
Hawking makes claims of upgradability as the Hawking HWUN1's rather diminutive 2dBi dipole antennas are removable. They can be replaced by something beefier - for example, the Hawking Hi-Gain HA12W antenna we looked at recently.
This is a fairly small plus point – after all, isn't draft-n supposed to increase your usable range anyway? In fact range is probably the strong point of the HWUN1. While network bandwidth was distinctly average, the usable range (and this means achieving any sort of connection after other adapters have given up) is impressive.
The Hawking HWUN1 offers a good balance of speed and useful range, the latter probably being a more important feature for laptop users.