If your laptop do not showing you hotspots near you then you should check ways to enable them, rather than that if its not showing you the Wi-Fi option, you might didn't install the driver yet. You can simply install it from the driver CD, or look into your laptop backup. If you failed to do so you can also connect from another internet enabled computer and look for the driver according to your laptop brands. Normally laptop brands website provide all the drivers you required for you laptop, just select your model and download.
Laptop is bigger and better, so it is obvious that laptop's Wi-Fi signals strength are stronger than smartphone Wi-Fi radio. Therefore while using Wi-Fi on laptop you will get better speed. However this doesn't mean that you will get good speed on low and weak signals even your laptop will not able to use the WiFi network efficiently. It is important that you go as far as you can near to your Wi-Fi network to get best of it.
Now after getting near to the Wi-Fi network if still didn't works for you, and you are getting low and very weak signal and speed than you can simply follow the below tricks and tips to improve the signal :
1) Upgrading Wi-Fi Router
If you are using the newer version laptops than they are using 802.11g or 802.11n Wi-Fi circuitry to efficiently utilize Wi-Fi networks. From your Control Panel > Device Manager > Network Adapters you can check which version you are using and also upgrade. If you are router driver version is 802.11b, upgrade it to the newest one, mine is 802.11 bgn. That will boost up your Wi-Fi speed.
2) Wi-Fi Signal Amplifier
Repeat your Wi-Fi signal to boost more strength to your Wi-Fi signal, it is called wireless amplifier or range expander. It simply picks up Wi-Fi signals from routers and then re-transmits it. You are recommend to place the wireless amplifier near the edge of Wi-Fi router to make best use of the device. It will then rebroadcast the signal to give you more strength.
3) Install Omnidirectional Antenna
Omni Antenna is an advance Antenna that will provide you a signal uniformly in all direction. The directional signal allows you to target the location where you want the signal.
4) Install external Wi-Fi Router
When you are using your basic laptop's adapters, they are good to catch the signals but external WiFi routers are build for only getting better signals and send it to you. If you are using old laptops there is a great chance that your signal will be weak. Consider disabling built-in Wi-Fi circuit and antenna and installing an external Wi-Fi router. External Wi-Fi routers comes with large antenna and they uses up-to-date technologies which can improve Wi-Fi signal for your laptop, smartphones even smart TVs.
5) Changing Wireless Channel
Usually Wi-Fi routers broadcast Wi-Fi signals on several channels. If the channel is providing a lot of interference, which means the channel you are using through your laptop is also getting connection interruption by others that makes your signal weaker for periods of time. You can simply change the channel from your router or access point's configuration settings and see the results.
6) Transmission Power To Highest Level
From your adapters that comes with adjustable transmission power you can setup the transmission power adjustments. Just simply put the transmission power level to maximum so that you can get more stronger and relevant possible Wi-Fi signal. But, keep that in mind when your laptop will be in power saving mode it will automatically switch back to its old settings. You can also change that settings from your Power Options panel.
7) Positioning your Wi-Fi Router
Positioning your adapter is important if you are looking for getting better signal. If possible try to place your router at the center location, prefer a place where thick walls or obstructing furniture can not congest your signal. Do not place your router near any metal surfaces, even near to any other electronics that uses signal like microwave, remote control doors, TVs, etc. They simply interfere with the signal broadcaster that can make weaker signal or even interruption sometimes.
8) Turn Off Network Hogs
You can use Task Manger by pressing Ctl+Alt+Del > Task Manger > End Process of any other program that running in background and using network. Some apps usually occupy network in the background which have no use. Disable unused applications out of it so that your network speed will boost as well as performance. If your computer is running slow can make your network running slow as well.
9) Upgrade Firmware
Your router and adapter both have firmware to establish connection. You can frequently check for an update available for your Wi-Fi router and adapter. If you find upgrades, than simply download it and update your drivers because newest version firmware comes with fixes, that can solve some of the issues that might interrupt connection and improve speed. You can also turn on automatic firmware update for your adapters and router.
DD-WRT is a third-party Linux-Based firmware open-source software for several wireless routers which is known to boost router performance and extend the feature set beyond what typically comes with the most routers. It is very powerful and might boost the performance of your network but if you are not sure either your router will support it or not than it is not recommended solution because, there is a chance that your router do not support it. It can invalidate your router warranty and many manufacturers will not help you troubleshoot router issues once you have DD-WRT installed on them.
All the tips and tricks can help you to improve the daily performance of your network use. But, you must keep your computer speed performance, because sometimes it is not only the network, it can be your computer too.