Recently I received a review unit of the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Extender. It’s a tool that I am surprisingly well qualified to test. You see, we live in an old, restored Victorian and my office, and router, are on the third floor. However, most life takes place on the first two floors, where a laptop, tablet, and smartphones are in use. Connectivity is there, it’s just not great. It’s a long way for a “G” router to throw it’s signal.
The WN2000RPT comes with a simple setup and simple controls. There are 4 wired ethernet ports on the back, along with a power switch. On the front, there are five indicators that show your current status. Colors change from yellow to green based on connection. Different indicators light based on what you are doing. It’s very simple and straight-forward in use. You can place it anywhere that you have at least a small connection to the router.
Find a place to put the extender, plug it in, and turn it on. Once it makes a connection to your home network the LED indicator will turn green. Use your device to connect to the extender. Once connected you will need to open your web browser – it doesn’t matter which one you use, any web browser will work here. It should open to the site http://www.mywifiext.net From there the wizard will walk you through a simple set-up process. Once finished, the network name will change to YourNetworkName-Ext.
Our laptop normally has one or two bars on the first floor – not exactly unusable, but it makes web site load times a bit slower than what they are on the desktop with it’s wired connection. Of course WiFi can never match ethernet, but it can come reasonably close.
Once I reconnect to the Extender with the laptop I received four full bars. Web sites loaded much faster – noticeably so. The extender is sitting in the same room as the laptop – there was one bar when connected to the router, which is two floors overheard. The WN2000RPT requires very little signal strength to get a foothold and boost the signal up.
To further test the difference the Netgear device could make I used an app on my phone called WiFi Analyzer. I took a reading near where the laptop and extender were located. The router is graphed in blue, while the extender if depicted in red.
The Netgear WN2000RPT retails for around $70 – about the same price as a good router. If you have a relatively small home to cover – say 2000 square feet – then it’s probably not necessary. But, if you have larger space that you want to blanket with WiFi, and especially if your are slinging media around, then this is a must-have. The additional signal strength this device provided was more than noticeable, as you can see in the pictures above. It has made our first-floor devices much more useful now that we no longer need to walk around looking for the best spot for a signal.
The only drawback I found was with my phone. While it can see, and “connect” to the extender, unfortunately Android does not support DHCP. So, even though it “connected”, it could not use the connection. Since the the laptop and tablet were the major devices involved in our daily home-use, this was only a minor setback.
[UPDATE: In fact, Android DOES support DHCP. It seems that I needed to visit mywifiext.com with each device to enable, and the I was able to get it working flawlessly]
In the end the Netgear WN2000RPT proved to be more than worth its relatively minor cost. It provided a significant signal boost and it could do so from almost nothing. The connection was solid, never dropping out, as some WiFi can do. And, you can pick one up online for $60-70, so it’s really a great little addition to any home that lacks a quality WiFi signal everywhere.