While Netgear’s CES 2011 Press Conference was definitely not the largest magnet for reporters, the company actually announced a handful of impressive new products. The one that definitely caught my eye was the Universal WiFi Range Extender. Despite the thousands of wireless routers on the market, even the most powerful fail to offer perfect coverage. I am fairly confident that there is a “dead zone” in just about any home.
I happen to have a second WiFi router in my home to solve this issue. Unfortunately, my solution was not too easy since I had to run an Ethernet cable between the primary and secondary router. I configured it with the same network settings so that my wireless devices could switch between networks seamlessly. Despite doubling my coverage, I still manage to find places without any WiFi.
Since my solution isn’t practical for everyone, I was glad to see that Netgear’s accessory offers a simple setup process without any messy wiring. The Universal WiFi Range Extender looks like an oversized AC wall adapter and plugs straight into a socket for power. To get it working, just place it about halfway between your router and the spot that lacks wireless coverage. After going through a few basic settings, the range extender will replicate and rebroadcast a selected WiFi 802.11 b/g/n network. It even supports secure connections including WEP, WPA, and WPA2.
For those wondering, this is not a powerline extender, which Netgear also happens to offer. The range extender grabs a network connection wirelessly from your existing router and simply extends it further. According to a company spokesperson, the device is entirely plug-and-play. Users can move the range extender to different outlets if they happen to need better signal in a different room. As a bonus, there is even an Ethernet port on the gizmo for wiring up devices without WiFi.
The Universal WiFi Range Extender (WN3000RP) will be available in March 2011 for about $100. We will definitely get our hands on a unit for a full review. Feel free to subscribe to stay updated.