WiFi may be ubiquitous, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it actually reaches every place we need it to. Most of us have experienced the dreaded “dead spot” at home, and you’ll probably get nods in the office if you mention That Conference Room where WiFi connections go to die. Fortunately, the Amped Wireless REC10 Wireless Range Extender can fix that.
This WiFi extender truly lives up to its developer’s name, taking any existing router and either extending its wireless connection to previously under-performing areas or enabling a WiFi zone where there wasn’t one previously. The Amped Wireless REC10 Wireless Range Extender is the lowest “grade” of the company’s four models, as it’s technicaly the “last gen” model, but it can still be a WiFi life-saver for home and home-office use.
The package includes three components, the REC10 Wireless Range Extender itself, the screw-in antenna and a CD of tools that don’t even need to be used. Upon opening the box, simply attach the antenna to the extender, plug that combined unit into an electrical outlet and run through the Amped Wireless REC10 setup process. It’s generally pretty simple, though the setup requires a bit more work than I expected.
Screwing the antenna into the REC10 box is obviously a breeze, as is plugging-in the system to an electrical outlet. The rest of the Amped Wireless REC10 setup is a bit less breezy, though not all that complex. First, make sure the REC10 is positioned somewhere between your wireless router and the WiFi dead zone. Next, connect your PC or tablet to the Range Extender and open the Web browser to the appropriate URL (setup.ampedwireless.com) to setup the REC10 settings. Once you fire-up the Dashboard, connect to the wireless network you want to extend and either “clone” the network’s SSID and security key or setup a new one. From there you will be able to connect to the extended network and be off on your Web-browsing, HD streaming way.
The additional configuration steps seem geared toward enhanced security, which I do appreciate. However, they do seem a little unnecessary for home and home-office use and a bit cumbersome, especially considering products with comparable functionality from TrendNet and others are plug-and-play and don’t all require similar configuration.
By definition the REC10 can extend a wireless network up to 6,500 square feet, though I’ve no idea of its practical capabilities because I tested it in a home that’s just over one-third that size. It’s hard to believe most users will be able to actually extend their WiFi network that distance. Here’s why.
The device’s own instructions say the Amped Wireless REC10 Wireless Range Extender works best when it wirelessly connects to a network that it can sense with 70% strength. If the existing router is sending a 70% signal at the location where you plug-in the REC10, logic says you’re really only extending the network by 30% over its existing capacity. With that said, we were able to extend our network effectively based on only a 50% signal, so Amped Wireless may just be hedging its bets on the 70% figure.
Regardless, that’s just a number, and most home and home-office users don’t even have 6,500 square feet to use, let alone have a need to extend their network an additional 6,500 square feet. When you take yard space into account there is a bit more coverage needed. Fortunately, the Amped Wireless REC10 Wireless Range Extender knocks backyard WiFi out of the park.
During my tests, an Android smartphone and iPad both showed a significant improvement in their WiFi performance using the REC10. The WiFi router those devices normally connect to provides anywhere between a one-bar and no-bar connection in the backyard, leaving me reliant upon a 4G connection rather than WiFi about 50% of the time. After setting up the Amped Wireless REC10 Wireless Range Extender, that connection skyrocketed to three or four bars, enabling me to browse the web, use apps and stream HD content with ease.
Playing multiplayer games on Xbox One and streaming video via the NFL Now app was also possible using the REC10, though I didn’t notice any increase in performance because the console is positioned just 10 feet from my standard router. Presumably the REC10 works just fine with the PS4 and Wii U as well, though I didn’t test those systems.
In addition to the WiFi broadcast, the REC10 also includes a single ethernet port for connecting a wired device.
It’s worth noting that the Amped Wireless REC10 Wireless Range Extender runs on the 2.4GHz frequency and supports 802.11b/g/n routers. If you’re a big spender and/or an early adopter and have a new 802.11ac router, the REC15A is best for you, as the REC10 I reviewed for this article does not support the new 802.11ac technology.
For those of you into technical specs, the Amped Wireless REC10 Wireless Range Extender has a WiFi output power amplifier up to 600mW, a WiFi antenna power of up to 2dBi, and a WiFi range of up to 6,500 square feet. By comparison, tandard WiFi devices have specs of 50mW, 1dBi and 1,500 square feet, respectively, so the REC10 is on paper a dramatic improvement.
But I’m not a technical guy. I love my WiFi, I want to find ways to extend it, maximize it and have it “just work.” By my definition the REC10 meets all those demands and more. If you’re looking to extend your WiFi network, the REC10 is a great way to do so for any 802.11b/g/n router. If you want to explore more product specs, you can find the REC10 and other Amped Wireless products on Amazon and dig into the product details there.