Netgear Nighthawk X4 extender
The X4 operates on both both 2.4 and 5G bands and employs MU-MIMO (Multiple User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output) technology which is claimed to be able to provide a aggregate throughput of 2,200Mbps. This, understandably, will only apply when used in conjunction with a MU-MIMO router.
White in colour it has ventilation holes on every surface with the exception of the front. It is 16cm tall and 8.5cm wide and has the 13A plug at the lowest point on its rear surface. This means that in virtually all cases (except where the socket outlet into which it is plugged is virtually at floor level), it will be easy to plug in an Ethernet cable into the port on its underside. Despite this, it is virtually impossible to view the Ethernet status LEDs which, as usual, are placed alongside the port without the use of a small mirror.
Although it was not easy to reach the mains switch when inserted in the power point it was not a major problem as all the controls including the on/off push-button are conveniently arranged on the left hand side of the unit. These also consist of the factory reset and WPS buttons and the Access Point/Extender switch. There are two pairs of LEDs on the face of the unit. The power and WPS LEDs -- the latter indicating security status with the other two, adjacent to arrows printed on the front, relate to link status -- one for router/extender and the other extender/user device such as a laptop or TV.
One useful feature is that all the antennas are internal so that there are no external ones to get knocked out of position as occurs with some other extender units.
Initial set-up is carried out by plugging the extender into the mains near the router. Then, after it has booted up, pressing the WPS buttons on both the extender and router with two minutes of each other. Once the initialisation has been completed the extender can be switched off and moved to its intended location. This is generally roughly midway between the router and the device(s) to be used.
Booting up then takes about 1.5 minutes from powering up. First of all the power and WPS LEDs go a solid green (in the case of the latter the assumption is that one is sensible and has WiFi security enabled) and then the Router Link LED lights up -- the colour depending on the quality of the connection: green/amber/red relating to best, good and poor connections respectively. (A connection fail is indicated by the LED not lighting.)
The Client Link LED similarly employs the same colour coding .
In practice, as an extender I found that it is easy to set up and use even though, however, I was not able to load it to anywhere near its full capacity. Similarly, not having a massive house and or garden I was unable to use it as an Access Point. When switched to this mode, once initialised, it is connected to the router via an Ethernet cable which can, I believe, be in excess of 100m. Hence, this is ideal to provide WiFi to another building or a shed at the far end of the garden.
Available on Amazon for £109.99 this extender is easy to use but will be an overkill for many households. However, it has the capacity meet the demands of the busy household where there are gamers and heavy Internet users.
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