Extending Wi-Fi Range
My home is on a single level. What it lacks in height is partially compensated by its spread from the front to the back as it encompasses several intervening solid walls. As a result my wireless local area network (WLAN) does tend to struggle when delivering a signal from my work system and router-modem situated at the front of my home to a second computer located at the rear of my home. It is for situations such as this that various companies have developed Wi-Fi range extender product. An extender device can step in and provide a boost to the Wi-Fi signal by sitting between the source router and any hard to reach areas of the home and devices situated there.
One such product is the AC750 Dual Band NETGEAR WiFi Range Extender model EX3800. Based on a 3-pin plug, looking as if it has been fed on a course of steroids, this product comes with the claim of working with any router. My tests have been conducted using a Cisco Linksys X3000 Router Modem.
Predominately white in colour apart from a matte silver outer face, this bulky plug has dimensions of 114 x 64 x 14.5 mm (H X D x W) which might make it a tight fit when inserted in a gang or double plug socket arrangement. Situated on either side of this extender unit are two antennas which can be swivelled to an upright or extended outward position depending upon signal strength and quality. To ensure the presence of this device does not deprive you of a valuable power socket, it features a pass-through power socket facility.
Running around the four sides of this plug device are decorative patterned ventilation openings. The right side of the plug houses a 10/100 Ethernet port that features auto-sensing technology and can be used to hang off an additional component to the LAN. On the opposite side of the plug there are triangular shaped power and WPS buttons plus a circular Factory Reset hole. Along with the pass-through 3-pin plug, the outer face of this extender features LEDs for Router Link, Device Link, Power and WPS status. Each LED uses a series of coloured glows to indicate its current status with green being the colour used to indicate the optimum performance.
For the initial setting up of this range extender, you do need to ensure that the device is in close proximity to the host router it will be servicing. You have a choice of making the connection via a web browser set up or the more convenient WPS method. Instructions for both methods are listed in the supplied Quick Start pamphlet. I opted for the WPS method which involved pressing the relevant options on the NETGEAR device and router within a couple of minutes of each other.
Following a period of flashing lights, which should not stretch your patience too much, the Power, WPS and Router Link LED lights will glow a solid green to indicate when the extender unit has connected to the existing network and is ready for use. If you plan to use the extender for both 2.4 and 5GHz bandwidths then this process will need to be carried out twice.
The extender will retain the connection information as you remove it to a possible location to boost your Wi-Fi signal. The colour of the Router Link LED will provide assistance in ensuring that the new chosen location for the extender will prove suitable. If this LED glows green or amber than the position should be suitable otherwise you should try another location.
With the boosting of the Wi-Fi signal by this range extender, I was able to link in other components, which had previously struggles to receive a signal, into my LAN. As part of its functionality this NETGEAR range extender creates new extended Wi-Fi networks which are assigned their own names. These names are based on the existing Wi-Fi network names to avoid any possible confusion. The new names use the original name with the addition of either _2GEXT or _5GEXT depending upon whether 2.4 or 5GHz bandwidth is being used.
I do have a slight criticism regarding the positioning of the Power and WPS buttons. Situated thus, where you would normally hold the device, I felt that they can be accidently pressed when repositioning the unit. You might then turn off the power or even restart the WPS process. Other than this I found the NETBEAR EX3800 WiFi Range Extender easy to use and capable of carrying out its designated tasks. Currently this product is listed on Amazon.co.uk priced at £47.46.
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