Wireless technology has made connecting to the internet more convenient than ever. If you're like most people, your home network includes desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones – all connected wirelessly through one router. Even high-quality routers have a limited range, though, and there are often dead spots in certain parts of the home.
Unlimited Wi-Fi access: So what should you do if your wireless signal doesn’t reach every corner of your home? The answer is to implement a Wi-Fi booster, also referred to as a Wi-Fi repeater or extender, in your home network. A Wi-Fi booster connects to your current wireless network and then repeats that signal, increasing your wireless range significantly.
Easy setup: By strategically placing the wireless repeater at the edge of your internet’s dead zone, the booster will bounce the signal to the rest of your home. Some make this process easy with buttons that automatically pair the booster with the router, and help you find the best location to place the booster.
Not all Wi-Fi extenders are created equal, so we have narrowed down the selection to the best devices on the market. We have also written articles on Wi-Fi boosters to help you make an informed decision.
You would think there would be hundreds of Wi-Fi boosters on the market, but the selection is actually quite small. Our favorites are the Netgear AC1200, the Hawking HW2R1 and the ZyXEL WAP3205. These are the best Wi-Fi range extenders in terms of functionality, features and product support. We explain these ranking criteria in greater detail below.
The range to which the Wi-Fi booster can increase your wireless internet signal is the main feature you want to look for. Most extenders don’t specify the extended range’s measurements, but the best can at least double your current router’s range. They increase your current wireless network’s range by harnessing the signal and rebroadcasting it. By bouncing and repeating the signal, you should be able to access the internet in all of your current dead spots. Signal status lights are a must, as these lights let you know if the extender is even working and the strength of the signal. The indicator lights will help you find the best location for your Wi-Fi booster. On the back of most boosters you will find at least one Ethernet port, but the best have up to five ports.
Compatibility is an important feature to remember when purchasing a Wi-Fi extender. If the device isn’t compatible with your current router then it won’t work. You shouldn't have a problem if your router is fairly new and at least has b/g/n technology. Boosters like the Netgear AC1200 and Netgear AC750 support the latest 802.11ac technology and can access the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bandwidths simultaneously to cut down on internet congestion that can take place if your tech-savvy family is using a lot of wireless devices at the same time.
Making the choice to purchase a Wi-Fi booster is easy, but what you want to look for is an extender that makes it easy to connect to your router. Our favorites are those with a setup button. One push and the Wi-Fi booster automatically couples with your wireless router. You may have to go through further steps to customize your connection, but the Wi-Fi repeater will begin to broadcast your router’s signal.
Many are equipped with optimal coverage indicators which allow you to place the wireless repeater in a position that maximizes the coverage. To save energy and increase efficiency, we also like those units with a power on and off button and the ability to remotely manage the connection.
Help & Support
Not all of the Wi-Fi boosters on the market have an automatic setup button, and those that do may not always work. The best wireless boosters have excellent help and support options to back up their product. Live chat, an included warranty and a direct phone number are some of the things to look for. The majority of manufacturers offer a one-year warranty, but some offer as much as a 10-year warranty.
If you’ve been battling with internet dead zones around your house, now is the time to invest in a Wi-Fi booster. Not only will your wireless range double, but you will have the freedom to roam to all corners of your home, wireless device in hand, completely connected.