Wi-Fi Booster Review
How to Choose a Wi-Fi Booster
The top performers in our review are the Netgear AC1200, the Gold Award Winner; the Hawking HW2R1 the Silver Award winner; and the ZyXEL WAP3205, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a product to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 products.
Best Wi-Fi Extender
Wi-Fi extenders amplify the range of the wireless signal produced by your wireless router or access point (AP). With the numerous wireless devices used today, this type of gadget can provide you with internet access in areas of your home or office where the wireless connection is weak. This poor connection often happens when your router is out of range of certain rooms. But it can also be caused by structures or objects, like walls or furniture that get in the way of the signal and interfere with its ability to reach the device you are using. A Wi-Fi booster helps eliminate this problem by capturing the wireless signal from your router or AP and transmitting it to your wireless device.
Equipment Required to Use Your Wi-Fi Signal Booster
To use a Wi-Fi booster, you must first, of course, have an internet connection of some sort. You also need a wireless router or access point. The AP may be integrated into a router or may simply connect to a wired network. To access the settings for your extender, you must have access to a device that lets you get online. Some amplifiers require you to set up an account online to adjust the settings.
There is a variety of wireless routers available. We reviewed some of the top choices for wireless routers here based on the number of Ethernet ports, security, ease of use and support offered.
How do Wi-Fi Boosters Work?
If you're looking for the best Wi-Fi booster, you first need to understand how these devices work. This will help you determine which features you need in the one you purchase. A booster works by connecting your devices to your AP or router. Let's say you want to use the internet on your smartphone without racking up the cost of your data plan. Once you turn on your router or AP and booster, the router immediately sends out a signal. The booster then captures that signal and pushes it back toward your smartphone. The phone sends information to your booster, which is then transmitted to the router. Your router accepts the information and sends it to the internet servers.
Once this is done, the entire process begins again. How fast the process is depends on what booster and router you choose to use, and what standard each one has. The most common standard utilized by these devices is 802.11n (Wireless N), which can support a network bandwidth of up to 300 megabits per second (Mbps). This standard tends to offer an excellent range and speed, and is also more resistant to interference in its signal.
However, Wireless N isn't the only option when it comes to wireless standards. Many boosters now use the newest generation of the standard: 802.11ac. This standard lets the booster support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. It offers bandwidth as high as 450Mbps for the first and 1300Mbps for the latter. Both 802.11n and 802.11ac are susceptible to some interference, which can lower the bandwidth. Speed limitations by your internet provider can prevent these standards from living up to their full potentials as well.
How You Pay
When we conducted our Wi-Fi booster reviews, we found that purchasing this type of device required only a one-time payment for the actual product. All of the devices come with warranties and some support from the company to help you get started. However, service and support for these products are often contingent on the product being under warranty. Once the warranty expires, getting help and servicing even manufacturer deficits may come at an additional cost. Fortunately, one of the boosters, the ZyXEL WAP3205, offers support via phone, email or online forms even after the company's two-year warranty has expired.
Best Wi-Fi Booster: What We Tested, What We Found
When we reviewed the Wi-Fi boosters, there were several elements we considered. Features like range increase, the number of antennas, the number of Ethernet ports, theoretical data rates and warranty helped many of the products stand out and showed what others were lacking. The following is a breakdown of what we found.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
The range of a Wi-Fi booster is essential because it determines how far your wireless signal is able to reach. If the distance between your kitchen, where you use your tablet to search for and use cooking recipes, and your office, where your wireless router is located, is 500 feet but your router is only able to produce a wireless signal up to 200 feet away from it, you want an extender that will make up the difference. If the extender falls short of the distance required, you're left with a "dead zone" where you can't operate any of your mobile devices that depend on an internet connection.
Among the 10 Wi-Fi range extenders tested, the average range increase is approximately 300 feet, with five out of the 10 boosters supporting this increase. The longest range is 450 feet. This range increase is produced by the Netgear AC1200 and the Hawking HW2RI. The Securifi Almond is one booster that was found lacking, and it brings up the rear by only producing a range increase of 100 feet.
MBPS & Bands
When it comes to choosing the best Wi-Fi extender the theoretical data rate, measured in Mbps, and the bands, measured in gigahertz (GHz,) are important factors that you need to consider. It's important to notice that with any booster you purchase the theoretical throughput speed given is couched by the words "up to." For instance, the Netgear AC1200 has a theoretical data rate of up to 1,200Mbps, but this speed can be reduced significantly by interference or even a modem or router that isn't suited to your chosen internet speed. Under the best circumstances, however, this modem can produce this kind of speed.
The bands you choose for your extender will depend on the type of frequency your router broadcasts and the kind of interference the device is working against. Some produce 2.4GHz wireless signals. This type of frequency can easily go through walls, and it's normally stopped by a piece of furniture in its path. The problem is, this is the same frequency band most other electronics use, which can result in a lot of interference. Another option is 5GHz frequencies. While these routers may not have the range 2.4GHz routers have, they aren't as susceptible to interference.
Once you understand what type of router you have or are going to buy, you can then choose the best Wi-Fi extender for your needs. Three of the boosters, including the Netgear AC1200 and Belkin F9K1106, offer both frequency options. Even if you don't need both options or the Wi-Fi signal extender doesn't come with both frequencies, you can always opt for a dual-band booster. Having this feature means the device can communicate with both the router and your mobile device without sacrificing throughput as much. Instead of having one band to receive and transmit on, which can limit its speed, the booster has two it can use at the same time to both transmit and receive signals.
The antennas on an extender serve to capture and rebroadcast the signals produced by your wireless AP or router and your mobile device. Almost all have two antennas, one to broadcast and one to transmit. The Hawking HW2RI, however, has three antennas. One of the antennas works to capture wireless signals, while the other two broadcast those captured signals away from the booster. This helps to increase its range. The antennas on these devices can be external or internal.
Antennas also help to increase the performance of your booster in other ways, like compensating for interference. By having two or more antennas on your wireless extender, we found that it was simpler to produce a better connection.
Number of Ethernet Ports
There is a vast difference in the number of Ethernet ports provided by these 10 extenders. Some, like the Trendnet TEW-637AP, only offer one port, while others, like the Hawking HW2RI, offer five. While the point of a Wi-Fi extender is to produce a wireless signal outside your router's normal range, having multiple Ethernet ports is advantageous. When you're using gaming consoles or other devices that may be out of range of your router but stationary, having the option to connect them to your booster helps you establish a better connection that produces the best throughput data rate. If there are too few ports on the extender, obtaining a connection with non-mobile devices may be difficult.
The warranty of your extender is an important consideration because it helps protect you from manufacturer-related defects. The majority of these boosters provide a one-year warranty, during which you can access support and servicing at no extra cost. Some devices that provide a one-year warranty include the Netgear AC1200, the Hawking HW2RI and the Apple Airport Express. Three of the boosters offered two-year warranties, and one, the Trendnet TEW-637AP, even offered a three-year warranty.
In most cases, support and servicing expire once the warranty period is over, with the exception of the ZyXEL WAP 3205. The manufacturer of this booster continues to offer support to owners even after its two-year warranty is done.
Tips on Buying the Best Wi-Fi Booster
Not all Wi-Fi signal boosters are created equal. If you're thinking of purchasing this type of device to eliminate dead zones in your home or office, there are several important considerations you must think about first.
Wi-Fi Boosters: Is Design Really Important?
Boosters are available in a variety of sizes and styles, and the design is much more important than you might think. The design can determine placement, how obtrusive the extender is, the number of Ethernet ports and how simple it is to move to another location when needed. It also plays a role in how much power the device has and the provided features.
There are three basic types of internet boosters: those that require a flat surface for placement, those plugged into a wall outlet and wall-mounted devices. Those plugged into the wall are designed to blend in with your home or office environment. They don't require any cables, are unobtrusive and you can place them almost anywhere an outlet is available, including areas where you might not have extra space, like hallways and kitchens.
Desktop extenders, on the other hand, require a flat surface close to a wall outlet, which can limit its location. Wall-mounted boosters offer the best of both worlds. They can be placed discretely on the wall, giving you the option to put them anywhere.
When it comes to design, the first thing to consider is where you are going to put this type of device. The second consideration is whether or not it is going to be in the way. Wall-plug extenders may eliminate cords, but they may take up valuable outlet space as well, especially if it is located in a room where there are few available. This is because their size, while small, may prevent you from accessing both plug-ins.
Desktop Wi-Fi signal boosters could become obtrusive in other ways. If you place them on a desk or flat surface away from an outlet, the plug cord may become a tripping hazard. Moving furniture to accommodate the booster may be more annoying than the dead zone it is trying to fix. Wall-mounted extenders eliminate both issues by taking up no room on your desk and giving you the option of running the cords down the wall to the plug-in after setup. No matter what product you opt for, you should always make sure you choose what works for your needs and your home or office setup.
Each internet booster is different, and not all of them will come with the features you want. One of the most convenient features offered by large devices is the WPS button. This button lets you connect the booster to your router with just one push, eliminating the hassle of a complicated setup. The extender and router need to be in the same room together initially for this button to work.
However, keep in mind that having a WPS button on your extender doesn't automatically guarantee a hassle-free setup. The router you use must also have this button for both devices to sync to one another. If the router does not, you must do setup manually. This involves connecting the extender to the computer via Ethernet cable to access your Wi-Fi settings.
Large desktop versions can also provide other features you might enjoy, like status lights, multiple Ethernet ports, reset buttons and power buttons. There are even a few that offer USB ports so you can input media data and share it with your network.
Wi-Fi Signal Booster: Keep Your Wireless Network Secure
The best part about a signal booster is its ability to increase the range of the wireless signal produced by your router or AP. However, this can be a double-edged sword. With increased range also comes the increased chance that your next-door neighbors can begin stealing your Wi-Fi. While you may be OK with sharing, the bandwidth can quickly be consumed when multiple individuals are using the booster's signal, especially if your extender isn't set up for high user counts. This typically won't be a problem if all users are simply surfing the internet or checking their email. However, if they are streaming videos in high-definition, they may consume all of your bandwidth and leave you with a very weak and slow connection.
It's for this reason you should always look for extenders that offer the security you need to provide access to only authorized users. Most offer Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or an upgraded version of it called WPA2. With this feature, users must provide a password before they can connect their devices to your booster.
All of the wireless range extenders we tested offered Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption as well. This protection is used with Wi-Fi standard 802.11b and created by a network administrator. To use this type of security, however, your router and devices must all use the same WEP key. If they don't, you will not be able to connect.
Wi-Fi Boosters: Remote Management
Seven of the 10 products we examined provided a remote management feature. Remote management provides better control over many aspects of your Wi-Fi network. You can access your network anywhere with any device by using an IP address or creating an account. This helps you change your settings, schedule when your wireless network usage and broadcast different service set identifiers (SSID). You can use remote management to shut down the network, even if you're away from your home. This is useful if you are worried your children are spending too much time online.
The remote management feature provides other elements for controlling your home or office network when you're away. Many give you the option of IP address filtering, which lets you see who is using your Wi-Fi signal. If someone has hacked into your network or has accessed your wireless signal without your permission, you have the ability to catch them in the act and lock them out.
Wi-Fi Extenders: What Type of Help and Support Should You Expect?
The type of help and support you can expect from the manufacturers of these extenders varies greatly, depending on the product you choose. All of the products provide a user manual, which can be very helpful when setting up your wireless network. However, some are lacking in other areas of support. The Apple AirPort Express, for instance, provides you with a user manual but only 90 days of phone support. If you decide to move the booster after this and need help setting it up, you're left with only the user manual to guide you.
Other manufacturers are more helpful. When you purchase the Linksys RE1000, for example, you get access to forums, FAQs and a user manual. If you want to speak to someone about a problem you're having, you can also contact support through live chat, phone and email.
You want to be cautious when purchasing an amplifier for your wireless signal, especially when it comes to the help and support offered by the manufacturer. There may be times when your questions are easily answered by the user manual or by a forum post. However, having the option to send off a quick email or connect with a technical team by phone can provide you with peace of mind if you need help fast. You should consider how you will be using the additional range provided by the wireless extender. If you're using it at home for entertainment purposes, spending a few hours or even days attempting to fix an issue by yourself may be frustrating, but not emergent. If you are using the extender at the office or to improve your home business, however, any time lost trying to find the answers you need could cost you lost hours of work and money.
Wi-Fi Boosters: Using Old Routers
Each booster we tested was compatible with 802.11 A, B and G Wi-Fi technology. It is important to note, however, that while these boosters are compatible with older technology, they don't have the ability to improve that technology. If your router has a low theoretical data rate, the extender will only be able to produce that same data rate when transmitting from the router to your device. Your wireless signal will have a greater range, but its speed will remain the same.
Wi-Fi Extenders vs. Wi-Fi Repeaters: Are They the Same Thing?
While a wireless repeater and extender share many similarities, these are two different types of devices that behave in different ways.
An extender works by capturing the signal from your router and transmitting it to your mobile device. When it does this, it doesn't transmit the signal under the same network name as your original wireless network. If your original is call "MyNetwork1" the new network name produced by the booster may be "MyNetwork2." Your wireless devices need to connect to MyNetwork2 to connect to the internet.
A Wi-Fi repeater works differently. Basically, it repeats the signal it receives as it transmits it to your device, so you always end up using the same wireless network name as you started out with.
That being said, many boosters give you the option to use your range extender as a repeater. Some let you change the settings so that only one network name, or SSID, is ever used as well. If you want the convenience of multiple SSIDs, the Trendnet TEW-637AP offers you the ability to broadcast up to four different SSIDs, each with a separate and unique pass phrase.
How to Connect to Different Networks
Connecting to different networks when you're in the same home or office is not as simple as you might think. Your mobile device won't automatically switch to the boosted network signal if you're still in range of the original signal, even if the original is very weak. In order for your device to connect to the new signal, you have to step outside of the original wireless signal range or set it up manually.
To set this up manually, you'll need to disconnect from the original network and connect to the new one. This can be tricky, especially if you've chosen to hide the new network name in the wireless extender settings. If this is the case, you have to manually enter the network name and then enter the password before you can connect.
Fixes for Your Wi-Fi Signal Problems
Purchasing a range booster can help you address many of the Wi-Fi signal problems in your home, but if your router or access point isn't producing a strong signal at all, you may not be able to experience the full benefits of your extender. There are quite a few problems that could be causing a poor wireless signal. Those same problems may also affect your internet booster's ability to perform at its best.
Some issues can't be avoided or fixed without a lot of time and money. For instance, if your home is more than 60 years old, there may be actual chicken wire inside your walls. Fixing this problem would require a complete gutting of your walls and a serious remodeling budget. Using an extender in this circumstance is the only way to increase the range of your wireless signal to gain internet access on your mobile device when you're in a different room. To learn about how to improve your Wi-Fi signal with boosters, read more here.
Interference With Your Neighbors
If you're like many people, you probably purchased a router from your local tech store or even online, set it up and didn't bother to make any changes to the settings. You aren't the only one; your neighbors probably did the same thing. Unfortunately, this means you're all using the same default channel, which can interfere with the strength of your Wi-Fi signal.
To check if this is the case, just search for available wireless networks on your tablet or laptop. If multiple options appear, you're most likely sharing a channel with many different users. Fixing this requires going into your router settings and altering the channel. There are a number of different programs you can use on your computer or smartphone to search for least-used channels.
Where you place your router has an impact on the strength of your Wi-Fi signal to your devices and even to your range extender. If the router has an antenna, you should always make sure the antenna points in a vertical direction. The same goes for your booster. The wireless signal transmitted by these devices broadcasts from the sides of the antenna, not the top. If the devices are positioned in a way that the antenna is horizontal, the signal is most likely shooting into the ceiling and ground instead of throughout your home.
Keep both your router and wireless booster away from obstructions. They shouldn't be placed by thick walls, next to other electronics or behind pieces of furniture that can block them from sending a good signal out. While many boosters are designed to overcome the interference with 2.4GHz frequency bands, they can still use the help.
It's also important to place your extender in a central location in your home or office to give it the ability to increase the range of your router's wireless signal in all directions. You also place it in an elevated position, as Wi-Fi signals travel down and over much more easily than they do up. While it's not recommended that you place the extender or router on a metal desk, you can place them on any wooden object without hurting your Wi-Fi signal.
Wi-Fi signals don't travel well through water. Any water source in your home or office could be causing your poor wireless signal. Water is very dense, and it reduces your signal considerably. While you probably can't do much about the plumbing in your walls, you can take steps to remove other things that may be interfering with your signal, like aquariums, fountains and even flower pots. Removing these from the area where your router and extender are located, or even placing them above the space where your device sits can prevent the water source from interfering with your signal.
If you notice the signal dropping when you're standing between the Wi-Fi amplifier and your device, consider for a moment what substance makes up the majority of your body: water. Switch furniture around if necessary to avoid placing yourself between the booster and the device you're trying to connect with.
We mentioned the importance of WPA and WPA2 protection, but there's still a chance someone else is using your Wi-Fi if you're experiencing a weak signal. To check this, turn off all of the devices that use the internet. Wait a few moments, and then look to see if the light that indicates the Wi-Fi is being used is still blinking. If it is, you may have problems with some freeloading neighbors.
To resolve this issue, you'll want to go into both your router and your booster and change the settings. If you're using an extender instead of a Wi-Fi repeater, you may have the option of creating new SSIDs and setting new passwords for these. Some even let you hide these new SSIDs, so your further range isn't being taken advantage of by those who are not authorized to be on your network. Hiding these SSIDs means you'll have to manually input their names and passwords into your devices, however.
If your router is the reason behind your weak Wi-Fi signal, it could be that you're using an old router. Wi-Fi signals on A, B and G routers are much slower than those on new versions, like wireless N routers. Updating these and the wireless card on your computer can help you achieve maximum speed. It's also important to understand that while some range extenders are backward-compatible with your older router, their efficiency is often limited by the weak signal produced by the router. In other words, while your booster may support a high theoretical data rate, it may not be able to produce this if your router isn't compatible with the same rate.
Another reason for a weak Wi-Fi signal is a needed update. Router manufacturers issue driver and firmware updates occasionally to increase the stability of your router. By downloading these updates, you can fix common stability issues your device might have.
Both your router and wireless could have power-saving settings, which are often set up as your default settings when you first turn them on. The goal with this configuration is to reduce its power consumption slightly, help you save a bit on your electric bill and help the environment a little bit. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of your bandwidth. If you're experiencing some Wi-Fi weak signal problems, take a look at your settings. Look for wording like "Eco Mode" or "Transmission Power." If your wireless signal is more valuable to you than saving on power, turn these modes off. Keep in mind these devices may also feature an automatic transmission router booster, a setting that will reduce the power produced by your router or extender during certain periods of time. You can change this setting as well if you want full power all the time.
Overuse of 2.4GHz
The frequency band on your AP or booster could actually be a problem, especially if it's using 2.4GHz. This frequency may provide the best options when it comes to range and cutting through interference, but it is also crowded. Not only are your neighbors using the same frequency, but your cordless phones, microwaves and even your baby monitors are as well.
The best option to fix this problem is to choose a dual-band Wi-Fi amplifier that operates on 2.4GHz and 5GHz. This gives you the option of switching over to 5GHz when things get a bit crowded. Keep in mind that it may not work with all devices. Some manufacturers made the decision to only include 2.4GHz receivers in gaming consoles and smartphones. Replacing them costs quite a bit. The best option is to turn on both frequencies on your extender and use the 5GHz for your desktop and laptop computer. Use the 2.4GHz for your smartphones and gaming consoles to gain the ability to achieve fast speeds when searching the internet, opening mail or watching videos on your computer.
Wi-Fi Boosters: Our Verdict & Recommendations
The Netgear AC1200 received The Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for its large, but robust design, five Ethernet ports and dual-band performance. It works on 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and has fast, 802.11ac technology. While its phone support is limited, it offers a very generous FAQs section. The Hawking fell not too far behind our gold winner, with features like a range increase of 450 feet, a one-year warranty and five Ethernet ports. Its inability to work on 5GHz frequency bands hurt it, however. The ZyXEL, while in third place, may not have an as impressive data rate or range increase as the Netgear device, but it offers excellent customer support and the ability to act as a wireless access point.
Despite the overall ratings given, there were several standouts in the lineup that could serve you well. The Belkin F9K1106 offers a sleek, unobtrusive look and dual-band broadcasting at an affordable price. It doesn't support 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology, however. The Amped SR300 booster is another option worth considering. While it only increases your range by up to 300 feet, it offers several features, like remote management and compatibility with old routers.
If you're looking to learn more about the different boosters available to you and how they function, take a look at our top 10 Wi-Fi extender reviews to learn more.
Netgear AC1200 - Ranked #1 out of 10
The Netgear AC1200 features 802.11ac technology, has a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button and has a theoretical data rate of 1,200Mpbs. It offers dual-band frequency, but is large and has limited phone support. However, it comes with five Ethernet ports.
This desktop Netgear Wi-Fi extender is 9.92 x 6.85 x 1.22 inches in size, but you can position it vertically or horizontally on a flat surface. Its size may be large, but this enables it to have plenty of features, like five Ethernet ports and a USB 3.0 port for sharing media files across your network.
The device also has a WPS button, which simplifies the way you connect the range extender to your router. All you need to do is press the button on your booster and then push the button on the router to sync the two devices together. If your current router doesn't have a WPS button, however, instructions are included to help you sync the two devices manually.
The Netgear Wi-Fi booster uses the newest Wi-Fi technology: 802.11ac. This lets you connect to newer mobile devices with the same technology. It also provides you with a range increase of 450 feet. The AC1200 features dual-band frequency with the ability to use both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands at the same time and produce theoretical speeds up to 1,200Mbps.
The only area this Netgear booster is lacking is its help and support. While it offers live chat, email, a user manual and a FAQs section, its phone support is limited. In fact, you only receive 90 days of help from experts over the phone.
This wireless extender features fast 1,200Mbps speeds on dual-band frequencies. It is large, but it comes with several features, like five Ethernet ports and a WPS button, which make up for it. While its phone support is limited, it does offer several other solutions you can turn to for help.
Want to learn more? Read the full Netgear AC1200 review.
Hawking HW2R1 - Ranked #2 out of 10
The Hawking HW2RI offers 450 feet of additional range to your wireless router or access point (AP). While it only supports a 2.4GHz band, it comes with several safety features that can help make your wireless network secure. It also offers remote management and an on and off button.
This Hawking Wi-Fi extender only works on a 2.4GHz band, which limits its throughput because it can't send and transmit signals at the same time. Despite this, it increases your wireless range up to 450 feet and can transmit data at up to 300Mbps.
One of the best parts about this Hawking Wi-Fi booster is the number of safety features it offers. It comes with a demilitarized zone, a firewall, MAC and IP address filtering, denial of service, network address translation and access control. These features give you total control over your wireless network, letting you see who is using it so you can block unauthorized users.
The Hawking system also comes with remote management. This feature lets you stay in control over the network, even when you aren't where it is located. Whether you're at home, at the office or on the road, you can log into the system to change the settings, turn off the Wi-Fi and even see who's using your wireless signal right then.
This Wi-Fi booster doesn't come with live-chat support, but you can contact a support team by phone or email if the included user manual doesn't help you. You also have the option of using an online contact form.
When you're looking for the best Wi-Fi booster, this extender offers many of the features you should look for. It boasts elements like remote management, a 450-foot range increase and IP address filtering. It may not come with live chat, but it offers several support options to help you get started.
Want to learn more? Read the full Hawking HW2R1 review.
ZyXEL WAP3205 - Ranked #3 out of 10
The ZyXEL WAP3205 isn't just a wireless extender; it acts as an access point as well. It uses wireless-N technology, but you can also use it with B and G routers. It features a WPS button, wireless scheduling and MAC address filtering. This small Wi-Fi booster is black with gray accents.
This device is also able to operate in four separate modes, which you can choose from on the home screen of the software. Each mode that is available functions differently, giving you the ability to use the booster in several different ways.
The ZyXEL Wi-Fi booster using wireless-N Wi-Fi technology, but it also compatible with old routers and devices that use B and G technology. It features two external antennas. One is used to capture the signal produced by your mobile device or router, while the other transmits that signal.
This ZyXEL system features many interesting elements that can make setup and operation simple. Some of these elements include status lights, a WPS button and wireless scheduling. It also comes with a power button, which lets you shut the booster down when it is not being used without having to unplug it. This device also has remote management. To access it, you only need to use the IP address provided to you, and you can change the settings from anywhere you are. You can also use this feature to filter out addresses and determine who is using your wireless network.
The ZyXEL Wi-Fi extender gives you the ability to manage your network remotely and schedule when the wireless network is available. This is also a versatile device, as you can use it as a wireless access point in addition to using it as a booster.
Want to learn more? Read the full ZyXEL WAP3205 review.
Belkin F9K1106 - Ranked #4 out of 10
The Belkin F9K1106 features built-in antennas, dual-band frequency and a range increase of 300 feet. It is backward compatible but doesn't offer remote management as a feature. It comes with access to a user interface, however, which can let you adjust your settings while connected to your wireless network.
The Belkin Wi-Fi booster features a sleek design that helps it blend into your office environment while supporting your wireless signal needs. It features two antennas, but they are built-in so you can't see them. These antennas help the booster extend the range of your wireless signal up to 300 feet.
This range extender offers a theoretical data rate of up to 600Mbps, but only when used with 802.11n devices. It is backward compatible, but will not produce as high a theoretical data rate with slower, older systems. It features dual-band frequencies and can transmit and receive signals on 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands at the same time.
What this Belkin Wi-Fi extender is missing is the ability to manage your network remotely. However, if you're connected to your wireless network, you can manage your settings online and alter any safety measures in the system. The system also supports both WPA2 and WEP passwords, which can help increase your network security.
While this extender doesn't give you the option of managing your wireless network remotely, it does give you the chance to use several other features you might look for in a booster. The Belkin system uses 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and can do so at the same time. It also produces data rates as fast as 600Mbps and can increase your Wi-Fi signal range as much as 300 feet. In addition, the extender is capable of connecting to devices that use B, G and N wireless technology.
Want to learn more? Read the full Belkin F9K1106 review.
Amped SR300 - Ranked #5 out of 10
The Amped SR300 delivers data rates as fast as 300Mbps and is compatible with 11 B, G and N wireless devices. It can increase your range by up to 300 feet, but only operates on a 2.4GHz frequency. The Amped system offers plenty of additional features, however, and uses WPA and WEP encryption and security.
While this booster work on a 2.4GHz frequency only, it's able to provide 300Mbps of data to your wireless-N device. It is capable of working with older systems, but the speed at which it can supply data will be limited by the older Wi-Fi technology. Once connected to this type of device, it can boost your Wi-Fi signal by up to 300 feet.
This extender can function as a desk booster or a wall-mounted booster, depending on your particular needs. It features a WPS button, which lets you connect the Amped Wi-Fi extender and your router together simply by pressing the button. For this to work, however, your router must have a WPS button as well. If it doesn't, you will have to set up the connection manually. Luckily, the manufacturer offers plenty of support if you need help doing this. You can obtain help by phone, email, FAQs and by reading the included user manual.
This system offers several features you might enjoy using. Some of the extras include the ability to schedule when your wireless booster is turned on and off, the ability to restrict access to your wireless network and remote management.
This Amped Wi-Fi booster gives you the ability to maintain complete control of your network while providing you with an extended wireless range and 300Mbps of data speed. The system is also simple to install with its WPS button, but only uses a 2.4GHz frequency band. This is a solid Wi-Fi booster.
Want to learn more? Read the full Amped SR300 review.
Trendnet TEW-637AP - Ranked #6 out of 10
The Trendnet TEW-637AP increases your range by 300 feet, but only offers one Ethernet port. The system lets you broadcast up to four network names and offers remote management. In addition, it comes with built-in green technology that can help you save on energy bills.
This wireless extender only comes with one Ethernet port, which can significantly diminish your ability to use it with wired devices. However, it can extend your range by 300 feet, letting you use it for wireless devices in many different areas of your home or office. In addition, it offers status lights, which let you know when the wireless signal is in use.
One of the main features of the Trendnet system is its ability to control its own power consumption. However, it also gives you the option of controlling the power if you prefer that method. It does this by featuring a power button on the side of the device. Instead of unplugging it, you can simply turn it off when you aren't using it. While it is being utilized, it uses built-in green technology that reduces the amount of energy it uses significantly. This can result in lower energy bills.
This Trendnet Wi-Fi booster also offers remote management. Even if you aren't using the wireless network, you have the ability to control the different MAC addresses that are using the network. The system also features two antennas that can broadcast up to four Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs.) You can set these up yourself and include a different encryption for each one.
This Trendnet Wi-Fi extender gives you the ability to expand your network's Wi-Fi signal up to 300 feet, control your network from any location and choose who can and cannot access your wireless signal. It also offers technology to reduce its energy consumption and save money.
Want to learn more? Read the full Trendnet TEW-637AP review.
Securifi Almond - Ranked #7 out of 10
The Securifi Almond pulls double duty as both an amplifier and a router. While this can be beneficial, it doesn't offer the range you might expect from an extender, as it only extends 100 feet. It does come with a 2.8-inch touchscreen that makes setup simple, however.
This Securifi Almond system is an extender that offers a very short 100-foot range increase when connected to your wireless access point (AP) or router. While this is a disadvantage to this product, it has the ability to turn into a router as well. Unfortunately, it can only operate on a 2.4GHz frequency band. This means the device can't send and receive signals at the same time, which can cut the maximum 300Mbps data rate in half.
The Securifi Almond Wi-Fi booster doesn't require you to set up the system or alter its setting on your computer. Instead, it uses its own 2.8-inch touchscreen. If you are more tech-savvy and want to access your Almond on your computer by IP address, you can. The online user interface is also needed later to access and change advanced settings.
The range extender comes with a one-year warranty, which gives you time to discover any defects that must be corrected by the manufacturer. It also offers the help and support you need to get the device up and running, including technical help by phone and email. You are also provided with access to FAQs for your questions and a user manual.
This Securifi Almond Wi-Fi extender may work as a both a router and an extender, but it only operates on a 2.4GHz band and has a very short range increase. Despite this, it offers a couple of different options for setup, making it ideal for both tech-savvy and new-to-technology users. It also comes with a one-year warranty and several choices for help when you need it.
Want to learn more? Read the full Securifi Almond review.
Apple Airport Express - Ranked #8 out of 10
The Apple AirPort Express is a combination router and extender in one. It offers dual-band frequency, with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz capabilities, but is only able to boost Wi-Fi signal by 150 feet. The device features two antennas. This is a small device with only one Ethernet port.
One of the best features of this Apple AirPort Express Wi-Fi extender is its ability to work on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This lets it transmit and receive wireless signals from your router at the same time, letting you take full advantage of its 300Mbps data rate. Unfortunately, when it's being used as an extender and connected to another router or access point, it is only able to extend your range by about 150 feet under perfect conditions. You can also turn off the booster ability so you can use the device as a router.
This Apple AirPort Express Wi-Fi extender is small, only 3.85 x 3.85 x .9 inches in size. While its small size does offer some advantages when it comes to aesthetics and placement in your home or office, it also means there isn't enough room for more than one Ethernet port. This can limit its ability for use with wired devices.
The system is also limited when it comes to support. A user manual is included, but the company does not offer support via live chat or email. You only receive support over the phone for the first 90 days after purchase as well. Answers to FAQs are also missing from this device's support options.
Although the Apple AirPort Express offers dual-band frequency, it is severely lacking in other areas, like support and range. It also only comes with one Ethernet port. Despite this, it offers a 300Mbps data rate and the ability for you to use it as a router.
Want to learn more? Read the full Apple Airport Express review.
Linksys RE1000 - Ranked #9 out of 10
The Linksys RE1000 is backward compatible and produces a theoretical data rate of 300 Mbps. However, the system only features one Ethernet port, which can limit use. It doesn't feature remote management, and the U.S. model does not come with a power button. The company provides several support options.
This wireless booster is capable of working with N, B and G Wi-Fi devices and can produce a data rate as high as 300 Mbps when connected to wireless-N technology. It can boost the signal produced by your router or wireless access point up to 300 feet as well. It only operates on a 2.4GHz band, however, which can reduce your throughput speed.
The system comes with only one Ethernet port, which you must use to install the booster to your wireless network. The booster is small, only 9.625 x 6.25 x 3.25 inches in size, but it features indicator lights and a reset button. The U.S. version of the Linksys Wi-Fi booster is missing a power button, however.
Its small size can be advantageous when placed on a shelf or desk, as it doesn't take up much room. The device also converts into a wall-plug booster as well to save even more space. The manufacturer is very customer-oriented when it comes to help and support. You not only gain access to FAQs and a user manual for the device, but can get help through phone, email and even live chat.
While there are a few things missing from the Linksys Wi-Fi extender, like Ethernet ports, dual-band frequency and a power button, this booster still offers a few benefits. The device can boost your signal up to 300 feet and can convert to a wall plug to save room in your home or office. There is also a great deal of support offered many different forms.
Want to learn more? Ready the full Linksys RE1000 review.
TP-LINK TL-WA850RE - Ranked #10 out of 10
The TP-LINK TL-WA850RE is a small, wall-plug internet booster. It only offers 100 feet of addition range for your wireless signal. This device produces a data rate as high as 300Mbps. The extender comes with only one Ethernet port but comes with a generous two-year warranty. Support is also offered by the company to help you address any issues.
This wall-plug extender is small and aesthetically pleasing. It blends into the environment and remains out of the way in your home or office. However, its small size comes with a disadvantage: It only features one Ethernet port. This limitation can be a problem if you have multiple wired devices that need to connect to your network.
Fortunately, the TP-LINK device provides other elements, like its ability to work with N, B and G Wi-Fi technology. When connected to a wireless-N device, it can produce a theoretical data rate of 300Mbps, as long as nothing is interfering with the signal. It also has two antennas that are built in to produce a sleek, unobtrusive appearance.
One disadvantage of the TP-LINK Wi-Fi extender is the fact that it only increases the range of a wireless signal by 100 feet. This may only be adequate for a small home or office, but it might not suit your needs if you need a longer signal range.
The manufacturer gives you the ability to find all the support you need when setting up, operating and troubleshooting the TP-LINK Wi-Fi booster, with the exception of live chat. You can contact technical support by phone or email. A user manual and a range of FAQs are also provided, along with a two-year warranty.
This Wi-Fi booster is missing several key features, like a large range, multiple Ethernet ports and live-chat support. However, this Wi-Fi booster works with older Wi-Fi technology devices, discreetly plugs into the wall and comes with support via phone and email.
Want to learn more? Read the full TP-LINK TL-WA850RE review.