What Are the Different Types of Wireless Gadgets?

Jeremy Laukkonen

Wireless gadgets that make use of Wi-Fi™ technology can be used to send and receive information, share Internet connections, connect previously separate devices, and perform many other useful actions. The Wi-Fi™ standard began as a method to create wireless networks between computers, but the technology can be found in everything from televisions to cellular phones. Many Wi-Fi™ devices are still designed to create or join a network, though various gadgets also exist to locate networks, boost signals, or transmit audio to speakers or headphones.

Wireless router.
Wireless router.

The primary use of Wi-Fi™ technology is to create a wireless network that can share an Internet connection or other data. This is often accomplished with a wireless router, though some computers and a variety of dedicated wireless gadgets can also be used to create ad hoc networks. The dedicated gadgets are sometimes referred to as mobile hotspots because these devices can be used as Wi-Fi™ enabled, portable Internet connections. These wireless gadgets are typically offered by certain Internet service providers (ISPs), particularly cellular phone companies, and some cellular phones can also perform the same function.

Wireless headphones may be used to listen to television audio without disturbing others.
Wireless headphones may be used to listen to television audio without disturbing others.

Another type of wireless gadget is often referred to as a signal booster. These devices typically contain a much larger antenna than other wireless gadgets so that they can pick up weak signals. A wireless booster can then be used to extend the useful range of a network or device. Some of these gadgets use parabolic dishes, which can further increase the potential distance from a Wi-Fi® source.

In order to locate a Wi-Fi™ network or hotspot, another type of wireless gadget is sometimes used. These signal detectors can be either hardware or software, and the physical devices are often small enough to fit on a key chain. Simple signal detectors alert the user to the presence of a Wi-Fi™ network with one or more light emitting diodes (LEDs), though more complex versions can also report on signal strengths, the names of nearby networks, the encryption modes they are using, and other information.

Other wireless gadgets are not intended for traditional networking, though they still perform a similar function. One use for this type of gadget is to listen to music or other audio sources wirelessly. Some music devices come equipped with Wi-Fi™ technology, though it is also possible to find wireless gadgets that can be plugged into virtually any audio source. These gadgets are capable of hooking into the audio output of a device and then transmitting the signal to a remotely located set of speakers or headphones. Wireless functionality can also be found in a variety of televisions, radios, digital picture frames, and other multimedia devices.

Laptops frequently use WiFi.
Laptops frequently use WiFi.

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