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I recently spent some time trying out a Wi-Fi range extender in my home. These devices have been on the market for quite some time. But ever since I purchased a wireless-N router, I’ve never felt the need for one.
So why did I bother to try the extender? Two of my relatives recently complained to me that wireless-N isn’t serving their needs, and they asked me for suggestions. In one case, a smart TV was the straw that broke the wireless-N signal’s back. In the other, a recent addition of a family room caused the problem. The new room slipped out of the coverage range of the wireless-N router’s signal.
In the case of the smart TV, the router was on one side of the house and the TV was on the other side, with lots of rooms in between. I was asked why Netflix didn’t work on the new TV. I knew what the problem was but couldn’t solve it by moving the router to a more centralized location. Among other things, it was in the same room as the cable modem and had a wired connection to both the modem and a PC.
With the room addition, the wireless-N router was upstairs and far enough away that it didn’t quite cover the new room, so tablets and notebooks could not connect to the Internet from there. The room also seemed to be exhibiting a Faraday cage effect, since wireless worked fine once you stepped out of it.
The Wi-Fi extender I tested is the REC10 from Amped Wireless. Released in April, it’s billed as the industry’s most powerful, compact Wi-Fi range extender. As with most Wi-Fi extenders, all you have to do is plug it into an outlet and connect to it with your device. I set up the REC10 completely from my tablet via a Web menu and then used the tablet’s Wi-Fi signal strength indicator to conduct a test. At a location in my house where I usually get two bars with the wireless-N router, the REC10 boosted the signal strength to three bars from its more centralized location.
The REC10 boasts four amplifiers delivering up to 600 mW power in a 2.75- by 4.0-in. form factor. It is compatible with any brand of router and retails for $79.99. Actually, the REC10 is probably overkill for my home, but it seems perfect for extending Wi-Fi coverage to the smart TV and devices in the new room.