After 8 months with the Ipad Mini on the road a few things really stick out. One is the rather weak WIFI range - making the iPad Mini an urban device requiring close proximity to the WIFI hotspot. A few experience from the road and a WIFI range booster for the iPad Mini.
Outdoor WIFI hotspot - One WIFI bar
My travel machine has an internal WIFI router distributing the internet from either far away WIFI or cellular networks with 2G, 3G and 4G capability. On warm days my office is outside, connecting to the in-house WIFI router. With my DELL Latitude D610, a IBM Lenovo W500 and an ole Nokia N95 this was never a problem. My table could be on either side of the truck, where ever the shade was in a 10 meter radius.With the iPad Mini this is not the case, signal was lost quickly outside.
There are only 3 bars (33, 66, 99%) between full to no WIFI signal - next to this the iPad WIFI bar isn't updated in real-time. It's little to go on in situations where the signal is already weak. .
Three observations of iPad mini's WIFI connectivity in weak signal situations;
1) The WIFI signal was quickly lost - UNLESS an active download, Skype or Winamp connection was running. It seems the internal WIFI chip can lock-on to the WIFI signal better with a running connection.
2) When the signal was lost it's hard to impossible to connect again from the same spot outside. Moving closer was the only option to regain the connection.
3) Finding the signal again with the iO6 / iOS7 connection manager in settings is quite slow with very little feedback what's actually going on. The WIFI signal scanning process could be so much transparent including a strength indicator.
This spoils the superior portability of the iPad Mini and makes it an office tablet where close proximity to the WIFI hotspot is usually there.
Hotel WIFI hotspot - No WIFI bar
In a hotel with several WIFI repeaters across the building the iPad Mini connectivity situation was even worse.
With my DELL Latitude D610, a IBM Lenovo W500 and an ole Nokia N95 connecting to the hotel WIFI signal without a problem - the iPad Mini wasn't able to connect to the free WIFI network.
The SSID network name didn't even pop-up in the iOS7 WIFI connection manager in settings whatever the location in the hotel room. This hotel had WIFI repeaters in AC Mains sockets in the hall way - no further than 5-7 meters from the hotel room I was in.
Standing in the hallway the iPad mini could connect but lost the WIFI connection instantly when the hotel room door was closed. Whatever the location in the hotel room.
This situation is a real show-stopper since many prefer to connect to the internet from inside the hotel room, rather than in the hallway or in the lobby.
Ipad Mini WIFI Antenna location
The iPad's WIFI antenna is integrated on the device edge of the front button;
The antenna lead starts at the PCB near the SIM card adapter (when equipped with a 3G modem) and goes along the screen edge past the push button. to the other corner.
iPad Mini WIFI range booster
As the design of the iPad mini WIFI antenna can't be changed from the outside, there's a possibility to increase the iPad Mini WIFI range.
In the meanwhile there's already a supplier of an iPad Mini WIFI range booster on the market, have a look;
Here is more about improving the iPad's WIFI range capability.