When I built my new computer, I decided not to use my old wireless adapter because the software for it was for Windows XP and earlier OS versions. I was going to install Windows Vista 64 bit for my new desktop, and I was under the impression that some older hardware was not compatible with Vista 64. To err on the safe side, I decided to buy a new wireless adapter made from the same manufacturer, Hawking Technologies, that created my previous wireless adapter. The Hi-Gain USB Wireless-N Network Adapter with Hi-Gain Dish Antenna (Model HWDN2) physically resembles a miniature satellite dish just like the HWU8DD version. It also rectifies many shortcomings of the HWU8DD model. For starters, there is no longer a swiveling base used for redirecting the dish; it was a useless feature that only succeeded in weakening the overall physical design. In fact, the HWDN2 is much easier to pack and travel with since the dish can fold down flush against its base, preventing the possibility of breakage.
In my experience, having used this and a previous iteration of the Hawking Dish (Model HWU8DD), I believe the dish does have a significant range. Upon first activating it, many previously undetected wireless networks in my area showed up in my wireless network list. Considering that the residents in my neighborhood live in houses that are separated quite a distance away from each other, I find the dish's performance impressive (I would not recommend connecting to a stranger's wireless network due to security and legal issues; I am merely trying to describe the ability of this product).
Installation is fairly straightforward and is very similar to that of its predecessor. One inserts an included CD that has the necessary software and installs said software. Afterward, the dish is connected to any one of the USB ports on your computer and becomes operational.
I installed mine on my new desktop that ran Windows Vista 64 bit with the 32 bit drivers (another term for software) that came on the CD. I could have gone to the Hawking Technologies website to download the correct 64 bit drivers, but the product works fine without them. I have also installed it on a system that runs Windows XP, and the dish works with it as well.
On a positive note, the included software is much more informative than the HWU8DD's. The software can show your download and upload speed in actual numbers as kb/s or mb/s, whereas the HWU8DD software only showed you how strong your connection was with oscillating bars with percentages. Now you can monitor your speeds and see how effective your connection is.
One of the potential downsides to the Hawking Dish is that it is quite expensive. I purchased mine online from a third-party seller at Amazon.com for around $50.00 (which included shipping) in December 2008; the cost of the same device on the Hawking Technologies website is currently $80.00.
Regardless, the Hi-Gain USB Wireless-N Network Adapter with Hi-Gain Dish Antenna is recommended for those who wish to adapt both old and new computers to the wireless age and for those who seek an easier time connecting to public and private networks. The Wireless-N ability of this model makes it more suited to current wireless capabilities and is a much better purchase than its outdated brethern, the Hi-Gain USB Wireless-G Network Adapter.