Rating: ★★★★½

You’ve just moved into a new house or apartment, and now comes the tedious task of moving your modem from place to place in order to see where you’ll get signal everywhere and if you’ve got cable internet, you could be stuck with a very limited range of where things can be plugged and still work. It’s a common situation, one that most everyone I know has been in at one point in time. There’s half of a second story bedroom that has never had internet access in our house because of where our modem and router are and there was nothing I could do about it. Nothing, until NETGEAR heard my (and thousands of others) frustration.

Enter the Universal WiFi Range Extender – or the WN3000RP if you prefer – NETGEAR’s newest solution to all of your WiFi range woes.  The WN3000RP is a very small piece of hardware – one that if plugged into the right place, you’ll never even know it’s there.  It’s just about the same size as your standard two socket wall outlet, so it’s fairly easy to keep it out of sight and out of mind provided you have an outlet in the right place.  You see, with the WN3000RP there are no unsightly cords; just plug the whole box into your socket, and it’s ready for set up.

Speaking of set up – it’s extremely easy.  when you plug in the WiFi Range Extender, you go to something (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc) and connect to the network named NETGEAR-EXT, then load up your preferred browser of choice and follow the steps lined out.  Basically you just connect to your existing network (through SSID or by searching for it), and then enter your credentials.  Once it connects, you have to set up the SSID of the extended network (different from the normal network, i.e. my base network is DarkStar, my extended network is DarkStar-EXT) and any security you want it to have.

That’s it – once you hit this point your new extended network is ready to go!  If you ever need to make any changes – you get tired of the name, want to change security, want to see who’s all connected, etc – you just log onto mywifiext.com (it doesn’t do anything if you’re not on an extended network) with the standard “admin” and “password” credentials; don’t worry, you can change all of that from the admin screen.

So it’s easy to set up, and easy to use – but how does it work?  Well as I stated earlier, there was a second floor bedroom that could never get internet in about half the room – it was just too far from the router.  That part of the room was only around twenty feet from where I set up the extended however, so if it didn’t get a full WiFi signal, I would have been worried.  Needless to say, that room has full WiFi access now.

So since that wasn’t a real “test”, how about my deck and back yard?  Both places couldn’t pick up a WiFi signal at all before, but what now?  Well my deck which is about fifty feet from where I have the extended plugged in (and through two walls) now gets a full four bars of WiFi – the far edge of my back yard which is around a hundred feet from the WiFi Range Extender gets three bars.  in fact, to fully drop off the grid I had to take my phone to the end of my neighbor’s yard – about 175 feet away.  Now at approximately 150 feet I was at one bar, and the speed was slower than the 3G I’d usually get, but that’s not the point – if you had a WiFi only tablet you could use it at that range.

If you’re looking for something to give your network a little extra “boost” in range, you really can’t go wrong with the WN3000RP from NETGEAR.  It’s simple to set up and use, it works as advertised, and it takes up vary little real estate in your house.  While I initially thought it would be better if it was stronger, I realized I’m not trying to cover my neighborhood with signal.  At just under $70, the price point isn’t outrageous, however it might make some people think twice, especially if their router is old and they could spend a little more on a new one.  It’s not going to be for everyone, but for the niche audience that needs something like this, it’s a great addition.

Final score is four and a half stars out of five.

Pros:

  • Very small form factor that takes up next to no wall space
  • Extremely easy to set up and get running
  • Works exactly as advertised – something rare in these days’

Cons:

  • Like a normal router, the number of walls and floors it has to go through severely drops it’s performance
  • Would be nice if it had a pass-through electrical outlet for houses with a limited number of plugs
  • Price might make some people consider just buying a new more powerful router

You can get your own NETGRAR WiFi Range Extender from Amazon for $$69.66



Staff