Wi-Fi's great convenience is not having to lay metres of cable to set up a network. However, it only reaches so far before the signal falls off. One way to remedy that is to deploy a network extender such as the RE1000 from Linksys to carry the signal further and maintain its strength.
The bundled app (downloadable for MacBook Air) scans for the unit, then shows Wi-Fi networks it can see. After specifying the network and its password, you move the unit to a spot away from your router and towards the area of weak reception, but where a good connection is possible.
Click 'Next' in the app and it shows up to five bars representing the connection quality. Our initial location offered little improvement, so we moved the RE1000 further towards the router.
However, there's no simple refresh in the app. We had to perform a hardware reset and repeat the process, which, luckily, takes just a few minutes.
The sweet spot we found gave a four-bar connection between the extender and the router, and boosted the poorest location's transmission rate from 20Mbps to a stable 78Mbps.
Consider the quantity of traffic you want to send to a device at one time. The RE1000 only extends 2.4GHz networks, which is fine for basic tasks and limited streaming, but it's a bottleneck if you plan to back up to a Time Capsule while streaming high-definition video from an iTunes library elsewhere on your network.
A 10/100 Ethernet port allows you to situate a networkable printer away from your router. However, there isn't a port to network a USB printer.
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