By Branko Miletic
Netgear is a company that helped make the net what it is today with its solid technology. While I wouldn't call it a cutting-edge company, it does make well-built, reliable and easy-to-use products for net surfing.
Now almost 16 years old, most people have used Netgear's products- and one of their latest is the Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender (WN3000RP), a product that doubles the operating distance of your entire wireless network. This has several advantages, not least of which is no need for any extra power cables or other devices on your desk, home theatre or workstation.
According to the company, this unit “extends your wireless network to include the area outside the range of your existing wireless router by overcoming obstacles and enhancing overall network signal quality, giving you the freedom to roam anywhere in the house and access Internet without worrying about coverage”.
OK, they would say they wouldn't they? What can it really do?
For a start, using it is as easy as one could hope - you take it out of the box, switch it on and plug it into a wall - that's it!
One thing I have noticed with Netgear products is that unless you are using some weird operating system that only you and seven other people around the globe know about, installing and running their hardware is nearly always painless and doesn't even require the use of the CD.
Once that was done, I tried to find how far this extender will allow me to run my own network.
First I took my laptop out to my shed, which is located about 20 metres from my router, and I was still able to use my network. I then took my laptop across the street and down the road (in a cul-de-sac) and yes, I got nearly all bars on my network working – about 100 metres away. However, this was a 'line of sight' test...in theory, if there was not a creek in the way, it should have gone twice that far.
After that, I took my wifi connected iPhone and drove up the road, where it eventually lost the signal - on my calculation, it somewhere between the 150 and 300 metre mark..
Now for a caveat. In theory or at least in a vacuum, any half-decent wifi network could have an effective range of about 100 or so metres. This has been tested in many parts of the world, but, in the real world, with obstacles like houses, trees, train stations, hospitals, airports and considering the fact we were not using a directional antenna and since most wifi routers have a power output between 20- 35 mW at 2.4 GHz, then a 30 metre radius around your home router is pretty much all you will get.
But if you buy yourself Netgear's Universal wifi range extender, then be prepared to extend your effective wireless working range anything up to threefold of that figure. Just be aware to secure your network as at those distances, your neighbors might find your newly extended network range useful, too.
Pros:compatibility with most b/g/n routers, gateways and Internet service provider devices.
Cons: needs to be connected to a power point
4.5 Shacks Out of 5