Extending the Wi-Fi Signal
Wi-Fi continues to make serious inroads into the home environment. According to the latest research, carried out by ABI Research (February 2015), more than 90 million Wi-Fi devices were sold in the UK during last year alone. This was a 17% increase over the previous year as users set out to create a situation enabling the streaming of data between computers, tablets, smartphones and other entertainment devices no matter where they are situated around the home. Well at least that is the theory but sometimes not everything works out in practice.
Many of the newly purchased items have been obtained to work in dwellings that were not designed to cope with the vagaries of the Wi-Fi signal especially when distance and various obstacles, such as thick walls, form part of the equation. As a result Wi-Fi extenders, such as the BT Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 1200, were developed to help increase the range and functionality of the current Wi-Fi set up. Cue this review of a BT product that has been developed to help combat problems regarding Wi-Fi coverage around the home.
The 11ac Wi-Fi Extender 1200 kit consists of the extender unit and an Ethernet cable plus a folded sheet of instructions acting as the User Guide. The extender unit takes on the appearance of a bulky 3-pin plug with dimensions of 120 x 68 x 51mm (H x W x D) that needs to slot into an available power socket. Due to the size of this plug, you might find that some extra room will be required with skirting board sockets being particular unsuitable.
Both items of hardware are predominately white in colour although each has its own splash of another hue. In the case of the Ethernet cable it is the yellow attachments at each end. The front face extender unit features a circular arrangement with a blue rim that can glow in different colours and positions to show, in conjunction with clearly labelled areas, feedback as to whether the extender is in the optimum position of too near or far from the main signal source. This arrangement also features a multi-coloured stud for decorative purposes.
On the top of the extender, initially covered by a label advising that the set-up process should be carried out using the default settings, are an on/off switch, band selector switch, WPS activator button and an Ethernet port. The default settings of this device make use of the 2.4GHz band rather than the 5GHz band which can come into play a little later.
Different methods of setting up this Wi-Fi extender device are provided. By far the least complicated method is that of using the WPS option with technology doing all the necessary work regarding setting up the connection. Step-by-step instructions are provided as you press the WPS options on the router and BT device and wait while a connection is set up. This was the method I choose and found I had to run the process twice before a connection could be established. The other methods, for those who do not have WPS capability, involve using the supplied Ethernet lead or the wireless connection of your computer. Again step-by-step instructions are provided for carrying out the set up procedure. Whichever method is used, the BT extender device should initially be placed within close proximity of the router.
Once the initial set up has been completed then you will want to move the extender from its original position, near the router, to an optimum location from where it can fulfil its extender functionality. When repositioning this BT device there will be a delay of approximately 20 seconds while the device runs through its boot up routine. The status lights on the front of the extender will help decide which location is best. You should be looking for a blue light to glow in the Good range on the front mounted display. If your router supports the 5GHz band then you can take this opportunity to switch the extender to that band. You also have the option of using the Ethernet port on the extender to add a device to the network.
Apart from needing to run the initial set up routine twice, this product performed as advertised. It was able to slot smoothly into the Wi-Fi system running in my home and provide the appropriate signal to devices that otherwise would be unable to link to the wireless signal. Currently this product is advertised on Amazon.co.uk with a price tag of £49.99.
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