If you caught the previous post about the Wilson Electronics dB Pro installation, you know that we were able to get service in a place with no prior service. It was a huge benefit for our family. To ratchet the signal up more, we opted to switch the antenna out from an omnidirectional antenna to a directional antenna. The change resulted in a boost of 6 dB for us, which is significant – double the power, actually. Check out photos and video of the install below. A big thank you to my dad for running the tractor safely, @chocov for the heavy lifting and @smithflys23 for the cameo and tool handling.
Signal test with the dB Pro and the omnidirectional antenna: -104 dB
Wilson Electronics’ Directional Antenna
Removal of the Wilson Electronics Omnidirectional Antenna
Preparing the Wilson Electronics Directional Antenna
Wilson Electronics Directional Antenna Mounted and Aimed
Signal test with the dB Pro and the Directional antenna: -98 dB
Check out the video. Shot with a @GoPro_News Hero 2 Motorsport.
It’s not enough to have service inside the house when you’re out at the ranch, so we fired up a Wilson Electronics Sleek. It comes with an antenna, an expandable cradle to fit even the widest of phones or devices and a cigarette lighter adapter. Even out at the feeder on the outskirts of the ranch, we were able to place a call.
Without the Sleek – no service
Wilson Electronics Sleek Antenna
Wilson Electronics Sleek Cradle
With the Sleek – -97 dB Signal
@chocov testing out the service with the Sleek
If you’re out in the country or in a place with poor service, check out the Wilson Electronics kits. They really do work!
Our family has a ranch outside of a Nordheim, Texas – population 307. Once you arrive, there is absolutely no cell phone coverage inside the house. You have to drive up to the road to send a text message. Even outside the house, people have been known to wander around to just send a text, while humorously holding their cell phone up in the air. I’ve never been that guy, but I’ve seen it. We had an AT&T landline that went from marginal to unusable. Instead of looking to repair the landline, we opted for a @wilsoncellular dB Pro 65 amplifier and antenna kit (Amazon link) – about $350 shipped. I grabbed my buddy and handyman rockstar, @chocov and we headed to the ranch.
We tested the signal strength outside on my @BlackBerry using the Diagnostic Test -106 dB.
The test inside was awful and unusable -256 dB.
Here’s the outdoor omni-directional antenna to pull the signal in.
@chocov installs the omni-directional antenna to the side of the house while my dad has us raised in the front bucket of the tractor. Thanks for being a steady hand while raising us in the air, pap!
My mom is on the ground entertaining us while we install.
@chocov installed an ac outlet in the attic to power the amplifier.
We put the amp in the attic after running the included 50′ coax cable from the outside antenna, then the other 30′ coax cable to the inside antenna.
@chocov drills a hole in the crown molding to mount the inside antenna to the wall to distribute the signal.
The inside antenna mounted on the wall. Clean!
The outside antenna installed next by the satellite antenna.
The final Diagnostic Test run is completed.
In the end, we have good coverage in the house with phone and 3G data services all thanks to Wilson Electronics. The next step in this process will likely be to move to a directional antenna. The omni-directional antenna is sufficient at present, but we can likely boost the power with a directional. Thank you to Glen for the help at tech support at Wilson for the suggested kit.
Growing up, my parents would make me eat all types of food. “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to keep eating it, but you must taste it” they’d tell me. I’m glad they did. I’ve learned to eat snails, sushi, calf fries (look it up), and even cow’s bone marrow. The Seidio Active case for iPad 2 provided a similar experience. I didn’t really want to love it.
My iPad 2 has been protected by the standard smart cover and a skin on the back to keep the aluminum scratch free. When the Seidio Active case arrived, the weight was hearty and the materials were tough. The three piece design includes a silicone inner sleeve that wraps around the iPad with an exoskeleton covering the silicone sleeve. The third piece is hard plastic shell that we’ll discuss in further detail.
Silicone Sleeve + Exoskeleton
The silicone and exoskeleton are well crafted. The few buttons that are on the iPad and denoted by raised silicone while the home button is the only one that remains uncovered. You’ll find the sleeve wrapping around the front of the device, keeping the corners and edges well protected under its cover. There are cut outs for the iPad port, rear speaker, camera, microphone, mute switch and headphone jack. In daily use, I found the cut outs to be properly sized. The headphone jack easily accommodated vertical and L-shaped plugs thanks to the generously cut sleeve around the port, while being careful enough not to expose too much aluminum. To help you keep your rep intact with your friends, Seidio gives you a cutout around the Apple logo on the back. Don’t worry, the logo will remain clean room perfect thanks to the clear plastic cover. This may also be the first cover that is iOS 5 ready. On the back of the case, you’ll find ridges that fit your fingers perfectly when you’re using your thumbs to type on the upcoming screen keyboard. Good thinking, Seidio bros. (Even if these ridges were just for fun, let’s pretend you did it purposefully, okay?) You’ll find the finish on the exoskeleton to be pleasing with a rubberized feel. It’s a welcoming texture that keeps the iPad from slipping from your grip. If you can’t catch a football, like me, this case will make you feel like the sticky fingered athlete your dad wanted.
Hard Plastic Shell
The hard plastic shell plays multiple roles. It is used the cover the screen when the iPad isn’t in use, clicking onto the exoskeleton in 6 places. It leaves a gap off the screen when attached to allow for impact onto the case without touching the screen. This is especially helpful because when the shell is removed, it has a kickstand attached to it that allows the iPad to be stood up in portrait or landscape mode at 15 different angles. When using the plastic shell as your base, you can feel confident that it’s not going anywhere – the shell has two rubberized feet that keep the iPad planted. Their grip even kept the iPad planted on my tray table when we experienced turbulence on my recent flight from Chicago. I found standing the iPad in the case was difficult the first time I tried it because the kickstand is so firmly attached into the base. Give the kickstand a firm tug, it will release and loosen up quicker than your granny after a few tall boys.
Real Life Use
The Seidio Active Case for iPad 2 is one of those accessories that I’ll see online, respect it for what it can do, suggest it to others but never consider as a viable option for me. I baby my devices, infrequently drop or abuse them and so I don’t consider these cases for my needs. I found, though, that I really have enjoyed using this case. I was hired to revamp the technology in a house in Colorado and I took the Seidio…and I loved it. The iPad came with me as we wielded screw drivers hanging cantilever mounts, rewiring rooms and setting up new receivers. The iPad could be tossed here and there without any threat. Bolts, screws, zip ties, drill bits and my iPad all lay together harmoniously without a threat to my prized possession. A week later, it was time to install new fender flares on a friend’s Jeep. Out came the Sonos and the iPad to control the tunes as we sweat away in the garage. Again, the Seidio case kept the iPad protected while we toiled in the Texas heat. The iPad didn’t budge off the Jeep as we yanked the old fender flares off, drilled, screwed and installed the new ones. The job was completed beautifully and we were thankful for the rockin’ tunes we experienced during our efforts. I would have been much more concerned about the safety of my iPad otherwise. This weekend the Seidio Active will continue its duties when my iPad is used for an outdoor Angry Birds contest. These scenarios are part of my life and none that I would trust just a skin and smart cover to handle in keeping my iPad safe. You may need it for hiking up a mountain, then reading a book at the peak or jumping from one train to the next in the tube and making sure that the hobo that smashes into you doesn’t blow out your screen – but I hope you brought some alcohol wipes to clean up. Yuck.
What I want to see in the next case
As much as I enjoyed used the Active case, there are some things that I’d like to see considered for the next iteration. Since the iPad has a strong battery and I don’t have to sync that frequently, a rubberized plug for the port would further protect the device. Next, I would love to see a magnetized hard plastic shell so that the screen turns off when you click the device closed. Right now, you have the choice of the device going to sleep from inactivity or you can press the power button to put the iPad to sleep. Seidio engineers, make this magic happen! Finally, a screen protector should be included with the case. Seidio makes these and they should be in the package. It adds to the comprehensive sense of protection that the case provides.
Overall, I take my hat off to the work Seidio put into developing this case. It turned a non-believer into a fan. The proof is in the continued use of the case even when I thought all I needed was a smart cover and skin. The Seidio Active Case for iPad 2 is tough, well built, good looking and properly thought out.