Wireless home networks came into being as much for their convenience as their usefulness: running cables along carpeting and through holes in walls weren’t so appealing. The issue of devices that could access the Internet back then were mostly “set in stone,” being desktops and laptops that don’t change their locations much, if at all.
But then along came HDTVs, Blu-ray players, video games consoles and more — all able to access the Internet for updates and content of one kind or another. Add mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to the mix — and having a wireless network makes a lot of sense. Especially for those living in apartments.
But the main problem with a wireless network is the distance that the signal can travel from the transmitter (situated as part of a router in most cases) to/from the device receiving that signal. The latest standard may be wireless “N,” but there are still plenty of devices out there using B/G. B/G do not have the range and stability of signal that “N” does — but if you have B/G or N and B/G, you have to learn to live with the results.
So in my case, all my computers, laptops and mobile devices are pulling a “N” signal from my wireless home network without problems from one end of my place to the other. With the exception of my wife’s iPhone 3GS which is still using the “G” standard. There are “dead spots” where she can’t get a fully stable signal, needed for streaming video, and so must change her location to suit the network’s limitation. And to be fair, going into the bathroom which, while only 60+ feet from the network’s transmitter, has so many walls and other barriers between it and the signal that it barely registers a bar of reception strength at all.
So lets take this little guy out and see what it can do. What’s inside this ocarina like shape, I can’t say. Short of cracking it open I’ll have to go with the description taken from Mohu’s press release: rather than putting up with the omni-directional signal a wireless router puts out, “The Bounce captures, magnifies and redirects that signal, essentially.”
All I know is that it works. Don’t believe me? Fair enough, I didn’t believe it either at first.
There’s really no way you can use the Bounce WiFi Enhancer wrong. There’s a hole on the bottom which you insert one of the (usually three) vertical antenna rods of the wireless transmitter into. You then aim the tapered end which has a WiFi signal on it in the direction of where you want the wireless signal to “hit.” That’s it — no cables to attach or power to connect. And as I found, using the Bounce WiFi Enhancer doesn’t affect how the network works with it on compared to when it wasn’t.
So taking the iPhone 3GS, I go into one of the near-dead zones and take a reading of the signal strength as the “default” — as the picture below shows, only a few bars of reception are indicated.
After putting the Bounce WiFi Enhancer on the router’s antenna and aiming it, I return to where I took the first reading with the iPhone. Now I’m seeing all of the bars of reception. And as I move farther away into a “dead zone” where the iPhone hasn’t been able to get a WiFi signal at all — there’s only been a loss of a bar or two. That’s neat.
But it gets even better. Taking the iPad into the bathroom and swiping it on — the bars of reception are fully engaged. Yes I now see why they say newspapers are going the way of mobile devices.
To see just how powerful a signal booster the Bounce WiFi Enhancer is, I return to it and readjust its position. Now it’s pointing directly into the backyard through the wall. I go into the backyard, where I’ve never been able to get a signal of any consistency before. Wowzer, I can stream video to my iPad out here with no problems a’tall. That also means I can take an Internet-enabled BD player outside or place it in an area that couldn’t get a signal before. Too bad the Bounce WiFi Enhancer doesn’t rotate on some kind of notched socket where you can note each time how it’s being positioned. But hey, a bit of duct tape below it on the router can do that!
I didn’t mention those wireless repeaters you can get — not meaning to disparage them. But with a repeater you have another wireless devices that you must set up and maintain in order for the signal to be boosted. The Bounce WiFi Enhancer doesn’t need any of that to work.
Bottom line: At a cost of $24.99, the Bounce WiFi Enhancer provides a directional signal that not only boosts reception, but gives you reception where you didn’t have it before (or couldn’t count on what was being received). To know whether you can use it, check the reception you get around the house with your B/G and N devices. If what you have doesn’t satisfy, here’s a way to remedy the situation.
- Simple to use
- Increases WiFi signal directionally
- Can be redirected at will
- Could be mistaken for a musical instrument
- Only comes in black
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.