One of my international friends, Arne Hess, Windows Mobile MVP and Editor in Chief of the::unwired.net, wrote a nice article about a very clever application called Connectify, that enables a mobile professional toturn his Microsoft Windows 7 powered notebook into a Wi-Fi hotspot. The best part is that Connectify is freeware !!
In this article I would like to provide you an overview of the Connectify application, and focus on some of the application details as well as the included features and functions. In the screenshot of the about screen below you can see the version number of the Connectify application I reviewed.
What kind of application is Connectify ?
The screenshot above already answers a great deal of the question, but on the Connectify website you can find the following product description:
“Connectify is a free Windows 7 application to turn your Wi-Fi enabled personal computer into a wireless hotspot to share your Internet connection, and create wireless networks on the fly with your friends, co-workers and other devices. Connectify can even share Wi-Fi networks which you are currently connected to with a single Wi-Fi card.”
On the Connectify website you can furthermore read the background story about the birth of connectify, which I personally found highly interesting:
“Our frustration with the state of wireless networking finally boiled over, and Connectify was born in a marathon of late night software development. We didn’t want more routers, we just wanted to connect to each other, share Internet connections, and get our devices online, without paying a fortune or carrying routers in our already overstuffed computer bags.”
Installation Connectify on HP Mini 1000
Installation of the Connectify software on the HP Mini 1000 still running on Microsoft Windows 7 RC is really simple and involves three clicks. Actually it is a matter of downloading the latest version of Connectify and running the downloaded installer. Like with any other piece of software you install you need to agree with the license agreement, like is shown in the screenshot above.
After you hit the agree button, the Connectify software will automatically install on your Microsoft Windows 7 powered notebook, netbook or personal computer. When the installation is done, you see the “completed” message just above the progress bar, which is shown in the screenshot below.
However you can choose to have a look at the installation details, or you simply perform the second click in the installation process and hit the next button.
In the screenshot above you can see that the final part of the installation process is simply hitting the finish button. However you can check or uncheck the “Run Connectify” and “Show Readme” options. I left both options checked to give you an idea of the out-of-the-box experience.
The screenshot above shows the Connectify application running in the notification tray, and remark the bubble. Furthermore the “show readme” command opens the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Connectify website.
Transforming HP Mini 1000 into a Wi-Fi hotspot
With Connectify successfully installed on the HP Mini 1000 it is time to put it to the test !! You open the Connectify software by (1) double clicking on the Notification Tray icon, (2) right click on the notification tray icon, and select show connectify from the menu or (3) select the program from the Windows 7 start menu.
I would like to emphasize that the Connectify userinterface is very simple. On the top the window you see the status and mode of the Connectify Wi-Fi hotspot.
In the Settings “box” you can enter the Wi-Fi hotspot SSID in the Wi-Fi Name field, by default this is set to Connectify-me. Furthermore you need to enter a password in the password field, while you finally select an internet connection you want to share from the pull down menu “Internet”.
In the middle part of the window there are a few blocks called “news”, “connected clients” and “client history”. The news block provides two clickable links which direct you to the Connectify website. The first one is about the press release of Connectify v1.0, while the second link redirects you to the list of supported Wi-Fi cards. The connected clients and client history blocks I will discuss below.
Finally you can see a large button at the bottom of the window to start the Wi-Fi Hotspot. The left screenshot shows you the Connectify window before you start the Wi-Fi Hotspot. After you hit the “Start Hotspot” button, Connectify is configuring the Wi-fi hotspot which is also reflected in the status change “Configuring”.
The screenshots above show the Conectify Wi-Fi Hotspot running, in WPA2-PSK Acces Point Mode. This means the developers have thought really well about the security features of the Connectify Wi-Fi Hotspot, that really don’t differ that much from the Linksys WRT54GS router I normally use at my student’s room.
The right screenshot shows the status when I have the Lenovo X60 tablet connected to the Connectify Wi-Fi Hotspot. You can see that the number in the connected clients block has changed into 1, while you furthermore see the device identifier and the ip-address that is assigned to the Lenovo X60 tablet.
All Wi-Fi enabled devices that have connect in the past to the Connectify Wi-Fi Hotspot are shown in the Client History block. When I disconnect the Lenovo X60 tablet, it “moves” to the Client History block.
In the screenshot above you can see that my Lenovo X60 tablet is connected via Wi-Fi to the Connectify Hotspot on the HP Mini 1000, that shares its wireless connection.
Concluding thoughts and wrap-up
Let me start by emphasizing that the Connectify application is a very clever application aimed at the mobile professional. You can also share your cellular data connection, for example when you are connected via the Option GlobeTrotter GTMAX HSUPA card.
The huge advantage is that you don’t need to pack an additional travel router, like the Asus WL 530 G router I used to take with me while travelling. For example during CES 2009 we used this router to share the hotel Wi-Fi connection, in order to limit the costs.
Despite I honestly do like the Connectify application there are just two limitations:
“Some older wireless cards do not yet have full Windows 7 support, and for those devices Connectify will act as an Ad Hoc connection manager, instead of a full blown Wi-Fi Access Point.”
Unfortunately most Intel Wi-Fi cards aren’t supported, and I’m not really 110% if it is because of the full Window 7 support. My Lenovo X60 tablet runs Windows 7 Ultimate without any problems and the device manager shows that the Intel Wi-Fi Network Adapter is perfectly recognized and -installed.
The second straightforward limitation is the fact that you need to have Windows 7 installed on your notebook, netbook or PC. So far Connectify isn’t backwards compatible with Windows XP or Windows Vista and there is no support for other platforms like for example Ubuntu.
Overall this is an excellent application that makes the mobile life a lot easier. If you run Windows 7 machine, head over to the Connectify website, get the latest download and turn your Windows 7 notebook into a Wi-Fi Hotspot !!