Weak WiFi in Your House? Try a WiFi Range Extender

Review of the N300 WiFi Range Extender

wifi repeater
N300 WiFi Range Extender (image from Amazon)

Today I installed a product I have recommended to others but never had reason to use myself before, a WiFi extender.

What is a WiFi Range Extender?

As the name suggests, a WiFi range extender, also known as a WiFi repeater, increases  the range of your router. Many homes have trouble with the WiFi signal in different parts of the house. The signal works fine in one room, but in the next room, for no obvious reason, there is no signal or a minimal one. These extenders work with your existing signal to pick it up and extend (or repeat) it to increase the range. Note, an extender will not increase your speed. Actually, devices using an extender will experience a slightly slower speed than those on the original router.

My house is about 1500 square feet and one story. It is, however deep and has lath and plaster walls. The router is at one end of my house, and my tv is at the other end. This resulted in the first world problem of an inability to watch Netflix and HBOGo in my living room.

The Product

I picked out the Netgear N300 (model ex 2700) based on its reviews on Amazon as well as its price. I wanted a low to mid-range product and saw no reason to spend a lot of money when the N300 had 4 out of 5 stars and cost under $40.

Set Up

All that is in the box is the extender and a very thin manual. It should be enough.

  1. Plug the extender in to the same room as the router
  2. Press the WPS button to connect the extender to the router. (No button? More steps required.)
  3. Move the extender to another room
  4. Connect devices

At this point I was done with the required steps, but I wanted to secure my network.

  1. Log in to the settings domain (page 12 of the manual)
  2. Change the password (it is initially the word password)
  3. Check for firmware updates and install if there are any

Any Problems?

I had some trouble logging in to the repeater. I am not sure what the problem was, but I got there. I also had to keep restarting the firmware update. I think those problems related to connecting to the site.  The manual provides two domains. One is .net and one is .com.  .net did not work. Also, I wonder how smoothly the install would have gone if I didn’t have WPS on my router, and instead had to  go through a web browser to set everything up.

Don’t Forget to “Forget” Original Network

One thing you will want to make sure you do is “forget” the original WiFi network. If you fail to do this, you will probably find your computer connecting to the original network from time-to-time. This will cause you to return to your original problem and will cause you a lot of irritation. If you don’t know how to delete a network from your device, look up “delete network devicename” on Google and follow the instructions. In reviewing the complaints on Amazon, I have a feeling that many of the problems people experienced were from failing to take this step. Not their fault, Netgear doesn’t recommend it in the minimal instructions.

If you plan on moving from place to place in your house, you won’t want to forget the network. You will need to remember to connect to the correct network depending on where you are located.

Does it Work?

My WiFi signal problems seem to be completely resolved. I put the extender midway through my house. I am not having any buffering on my Netflix any more and I have 5 bars on my computer in my living room.

My Conclusion

The Netgear N300 seems to be a good purchase. It was easy to set up, has a small form factor and didn’t cost much. I have only been using it for a couple of hours at this point, so if my opinion changes, I will update this post.

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