EDIT 3: Review is up!
EDIT2: Pictures of the board are up on dealextreme, it appears both antennas are connected, and the chipset is shielded by a ribbed plate of metal which might double as a heatsink. (thanks for the heads up Charlie)
EDIT: Forum member Pentest09 received his adapter and claims it works well, if you use a proper USB cable.
I sadly had to sell my old cheap Alfa alternative to a client, and since there is speculation the newer ones have a different board, I think it's time for a new adapter.
Thankfully, DX got me covered, with this insane thing:
2000mW (is this becoming the new megapixel race?)
Dual antennas (both connected to the board)
802.11 B/G (nothing new here)
Price: 24 dollars (about as expensive as my older alfa clone)
So let's get started! the whole thing arrived in a small box, with a plastic mold containing the parts.
What's in the box?
-USB cable (generous length, mini-USB male to USB male)
-Dual antennas (estimated at 6 dBi)
-CD with drivers, and BT3
The "manual" is both in chinese and english, and the english is unusually readable (it's not written in "engrish"). The manual describes how to set up VMware with BT3, and it shows you how to use Spoonwep, written by our very own forum member ShamanVirtuel!
The CD contains BT3, and the windows driver for the card. Please note that most windows (7?) systems don't work well with the chinese character set, so it is neccesary to copy the installation files to a folder on your PC.
Now let's take a look at the adapter itself:
What we see here are two, probably gold plated RP-SMA connectors. On the other side of the adapter is the mini-USB connection, and on the top of it is a weak yellow activity light.
Also in the box, are two antennas. The bend mechanism has 3 stops (one halfway), but it's firm enough to maintain the antenna at any angle. The antenna mounting can also rotate by itself, which makes it possible to change the antenna's rotation without unscrewing it from the adapter:
Here is the unit assembled with the two antennas. The adapter retains it's balance with the two supplied antennas mounted, it won't fall to the side like the single antenna Alfa does:
I have opened my adapter up to take a peek at the insides, and it is the same as shown on the dealextreme customer image:
(not my image)
Both antennas are connected to the board, and the chip has a small heatsink which probably also doubles as an RF shield.
Let's give the adapter a spin!
I have noticed that the adapter sometimes has issues when connected at boot (it gets SIOCSFLAGS errors when trying to "up" the interface, or set it to monitor mode). However, plugging it in after a fresh boot does not show any errors at all. Forum member Pentest09 reported some issues with the supplied USB cable, but I have not found any yet. Perhaps these two problems are related though.
Once you get the adapter to work, it's just what you expect from the RTL8187 chipset. Injection works, and it is very sensitive. It is at least as strong as my genuine alfa and cheap chinese knockoff, and I presume the doubled (quadrupled?) output power will be beneficial when working with AP's far away, or de-auths.
Of course, this unit has dual antenna's. Now I don't have an expensive spectrum analyzer, but some simple tests revealed that both connections can be used for receiving (there is no Tx/Rx seperation as far as I can see). This is great, because it allows me to use a 10 dBi antenna to cover large distances, and a 3dBi antenna to cover AP's higher up in apartment buildings (due to the more narrow radiation pattern of a longer omni).
Aside from pentesting, the adapter feels very responsive when used in Linux Mint (Ubuntu/Debian based)
So, the question everyone will ask: Should you get this instead of an Alfa?
As a previous Alfa owner, I can only say yes. Even if this adapter did not surpass the Alfa in range/sensitivity, it is cheaper. Unless you need fast shipping (DX is quite slow), I'd get this 2000mW beast.
DealExtreme: $24.10 2000mW High Power 802.11b/g 54Mbps USB 2.0 Wireless Network Dongle with Dual High Gain Antenna