A WiFi Extender? Are we really going to review it? Yes we are.
Last week I received an email like many others, advertising the Huawei WS320 WLAN Repeater. At first I went to delete it, I really couldn’t be bothered to get one and spend hours banging my head against the wall try to configure it. Then I tapped the “Show pictures” button in the Gmail app. It showed a fairly small chunk of plastic, about the size of a phone charger and best of all it was white. Then I saw the price. £29.99. I bought one.
So what is a WLAN Repeater? Lots of you may already know. Jump to the next paragraph if that’s you. Basically a WLAN Repeater is a plug in unit that picks up a faint WiFi signal and boosts it. So if your WiFi doesn’t quite reach around your house then you could plug a repeater in to cover the blackspots without WiFi. Large houses suffer with this problem and also old houses with big thick dense walls. My house sits somewhere in between those.
It turned up the other day and I have been planning out what I would use it for. The main thing I spotted was a wifi blackspot in my house. Up to this point in my life the lack of WiFi in my kitchen had not been a problem, the few days before the repeater arrived and I started to get quite cross with the blackspot.
Another thing I decided I would use this for was travelling. How many times have you been away on holiday, the hotel info said “free wifi in your room” and when you get there, it actually means “free wifi in some of the rooms if your lucky”. Another scenario would be tethering. Picture the scene, your phone can only signal by the window yet you don’t want to stand near the window for hours. Both of these situations would be a lot easier using a repeater.
Whilst unboxing it I decided as I would mainly be using this on my travels I would set it up on my phone or tablet. The web interface for network devices is normally a bit basic and a bit clunky. This repeater was no exception. You plug it in, it scans for surrounding WiFi to connect to, you select the SSID you want to repeat/extend, type in the password et voila. Shame that most web browsers would not accept text input on the password section. Eventually after trying four or five different browsers ICS+ Browser managed to do it. It then crashed and then nothing.
I quickly loaded up WiFi analyzer to be shown that it had all worked and I now had two signals for my home network. Here are some screenshots showing the signal difference. My network is the one on the right of the screen.
It worked, great. Android handles the switching a little strangely and it involved turning various devices off and back on again to get them to connect to the stronger signal. So with a little preparation and a cool head you should be able to set the repeater up quite easily just using a phone or tablet whilst abroad or just in a B&B in Scunthorpe.
Another use for it is to strengthen and extend the signal from my MiFi which at times I have it perched on a window cill and I have to stay nearby to get a good connection. How about on trains when you get complimentary WiFi, plug this in and configure it and you get a boosted signal. For the price and size of it I thought it was ideal to get and just see how it improved my life.
So download WiFi analyzer and wander around your house checking out how strong your signal is, then head over to the link below and get yourself one.
Link – Expansys