Hands On: Amped Wireless Network Extenders Deliver Reliable Connectivity
CE Pro reviews the Amped Wireless mid-level AC1200 Plug-In Wi-Fi Range Extender (REC22P) and top-of-the-line ATHENA-EX High-Power AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender.
It's no secret that wireless technologies, while ubiquitous in the home, still suffer from reliability lapses and dead spots.
With a range of products that includes routers, access points, adapters and range extenders, Amped Wireless is among the providers helping to close those reliability gaps.
The Chino Hills, Calif., company sent me a couple of extenders to evaluate: the mid-level AC1200 Plug-In Wi-Fi Range Extender (REC22P) and top-of-the-line ATHENA-EX High-Power AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender with MU-MIMO (RE2600M).
Both products offer the ability to cover several large homes and small offices, as well as network security options and other unique features to help the devices to blend into homes as unobtrusively as possible.
Amped Wireless REC22P
I started with the small, room-friendly REC22P, which installs pretty quickly for the most part. Per the directions, it really requires nothing more than an antenna to be attached before plugging it in.
Once plugged in, the device — which includes a USB charging port for smart products and an AC receptacle pass-through so you don’t lose functionality of an AC outlet — only requires dealers to log into a setup portal to configure it.
The biggest caveat in the process is finding a location that provides enough wireless network signal for the REC22P to recognize, and in turn, amplify it.
As part of the setup, which Amped Wireless guides via a series of prompts, it recommends finding a location with a signal strength rating greater than the value of “70.”
Once I confirmed the signal strength readings for both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, I created passwords and wireless names to protect the security of the extender, which I’d plugged in upstairs in my daughter’s bedroom right above my downstairs access point.
With the setup complete, I found the REC22P’s performance in line with my experience with my existing 2.4GHz- and 5GHz-based networks outside of the dead spot, which had been upstairs in the opposite corner of the house from the AP.
The 2.4GHz band reliably covered a large area of my home with approximately the same down-load and upload speeds as the downstairs AP I was extending.
The 5GHz band offered improved speeds, but its coverage as expected was not as wide as the 2.4GHz band.
Amped Wireless ATHENA-EX
Moving on to the ATHENA-EX, the extender’s setup process is exactly like the REC22P. I attached its four antennas, placed it in my master bedroom and plugged it in. Because of its greater reception and use of an external power supply, I was afforded some placement flexibility compared to the REC22P, which is more of a wall-wart type of device.
In this case, my first location choice provided enough signal strength to meet the minimum “70” rating for both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Following the same steps online to complete the setup ATHENA that I used with the REC22P, I quickly finished the installation of the product.
Sitting down within my Wi-Fi’s soft spot, I compared the ATHENA-EX to my AP. Starting with the access point I recorded a download speed of .72Mbps and an upload speed of 3.08Mbps. Switching to the ATHENA and its 2.4GHz band I recorded 48Mbps download and 4.59Mbps upload. On the 5GHz band I was able to achieve 46.12Mbps/12.14Mbps. (The REC22P speed increases were not as significant, but it did effectively patch the coverage.)
I think the key to these devices is the almost turnkey installation. Both deliver as advertised and provide a cost-effective way to enhance wireless coverage.
Using my computers and smart devices anywhere in my home to stream video, music and perform simple web searches simply became a worry-free experience.
The Amped Wireless ATHENA-EX carries an MSRP of $220 and the REC22P carries an MSRP of $100.
Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at [email protected]
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