When we did some renovation work on my house, we were very careful to make sure that we had Cat-6 Ethernet cable outlets in every room. Of course, that was a few years back now and Wi-Fi has arguably become more important. Our phones run on it. Laptops use it. Tablets demand it. Various gaming devices want it. Fire Sticks and items of that ilk rely on Wi-Fi.
So, we don’t just have Ethernet jacks in every room, we also have an Apple Airport Extreme and an Apple Airport Express. They run the same network name and work seamlessly.
That is, they work seamlessly except for a couple of rooms in my house where the signal is weaker than I might like. Specifically, the signal on my Fire Stick drops out when I’m on the treadmill and that’s just not cool.
Enter the need for a Wi-Fi range extender and no sooner do I start looking at how to reconfigure our Wi-Fi and what I need to buy, than an offer to review the HELIOS-EX High Power AC2200 Wi-Fi Range Extender Tri-Band with DirectLink hits my inbox. The model being offered, the RE2200T (currently at $146.91 at Amazon), features a 5GHz link to the main router and then can send out both 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals. It has a Quad-Core ARM Processor and professes to have up to 12,000 sq. ft. of coverage (full tech specs are available on the Amped Wireless website). It also works in conjunction with any router and has spaces to attach Ethernet-connectable devices to it. Who could say “no?”
Right out of the box when setting up the RE2200T it is instantly clear that one of the great elements of this range extender is the installation process, which is truly smooth and wonderful. Plug in the extender; go to the web address specifically designated for it; follow the simple instructions; and voila, the device is setup and working.
Unfortunately, the RE2200T, according to their tech support, should not be used with the same name as one’s main wireless network. It ought to get a different one, and that means Wi-Fi connected electronics have to move from the main router to the extender or vice versa. Additionally, the extender wants to be setup in a room that has 70% or better Wi-Fi signal strength in order to work effectively (it cannot be directly plugged into an Ethernet jack).
The consequence of this is that setting the RE2200T up in the room with my treadmill, the place where I need enhanced signal, doesn’t work. Putting the ext
ender in the living room though makes it effective in the exercise room, but it also creates a second strong signal in an area that already has a strong signal. This is sad simply on the face of it (there’s so much more area it could cover), but now I regularly find devices prioritizing (despite my attempts to make them stop) the extender over the original Wi-Fi, and devices auto-switching between the two in order to get the stronger signal doesn’t really take place as well as it should (this is not the fault of the range extender).
While all of this may be an annoyance, it isn’t a huge one and that’s largely because there has been no noticeable, significant, speed differential between the speeds the RE2200T delivers to my devices and that coming from my main Wi-Fi signal. Downloads appear to take place just as fast through the extender as through the main Wi-Fi.
Beyond that, the folks at Amped Wireless handle tech support calls very well. Not only did two calls result in speaking to knowledgeable individuals, but when the line was too busy to handle my first call, I was able to schedule a callback for the next day (and the callback took place at the correct time). This callback could have taken place during the same day, but it was I who was unavailable for that.
In the end, my problem, for the moment, is solved by the HELIOS-EX. It is an inelegant solution, but a solution – I can now stream Netflix while on the treadmill (in fact, the coverage inside my house is complete). I just wish I could place it in the exercise room and thereby have the power to stream Netflix while in the backyard.