All about Wi-Fi extenders

If you'e using a router that is not Wi-Fi N-compatible, you should get a new one. These routers are too old. Even the free one from your Internet provider is probably better. A free upgrade is all you need before starting to look for the best Wi-Fi extender out there.

Then, you need to see what kind of connection you have. The type of extender you get should suit the connection. If you have a basic N router, you wouldn’t be wise to splurge on an extender; there's just no point.

What should you look for in a Wi-Fi extender? The top considerations should be speed, a number of Ethernet ports, and a pass-through for the socket among others.

Why are the ports necessary? The more there are, the higher the overall speed will be. Why? Ethernet ports make it possible to connect wired devices, so there won’t be as many Wi-Fi signals interfering.

A mains pass-through can be a significant advantage. Most extenders are massive and block the adjacent socket. Some extenders feature USB devices, which are an excellent way to attach an external hard drive or printer. Others even make it possible to stream audio from your phone or tablet because they have audio outputs.

Many do still offer the ability to act as either a Wi-Fi extender or an access point. For the latter, the Wi-Fi and Ethernet socket reverse roles, so it's the latter that connects to your existing network, and is used to extend it to wherever you need; the Wi-Fi just provides wireless access at that remote location.

Most extenders are simple to operate. They are part of a single mains transceiver. Extenders with more features have a separate power supply.

There are two frequency band types available – the new 5GHz frequency and the older 2.4. We recommend the new one – almost all existing Wi-Fi devices use the classic band, making interference a relatively common incidence. To avoid congestion, go for the 5 GHz. In theory, the new band has a lower range than the older one, which is why drop off is probably going to be worse. Notwithstanding this fact, the latest standards of extenders use the new band, combining it with techniques like beamforming to make the peak performance and range better. This reason is why such an extender provides high performance even at vast ranges.

Don’t think about it too much – just go ahead and get an extender. After a long day at work, you just want to surf the web, right? Wi-Fi extenders can catch wireless signals, but you should  place them in a relatively central area close to the router to rebroadcast these signals effectively. Don’t forget that all an extender does is improve the signal – if it's weak, to begin with, the extender will rebroadcast the poor signal. The most suitable location for your Wi-Fi extender is halfway between the devices, whose signal you want to enhance and your primary router. Open areas like vestibules and hallways are perfect.

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