The Good: Easy to use, Easy to secure, Affordable
The Bad: Fragile, Does not have exceptional range, Inconsistent
The Basics: It’s hard to complain too much about the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender as it can help users tap into local Wi-Fi networks and use them within your own home.
Last year, when my wife was gifted her laptop computer and she bought me a new laptop, we realized quite quickly that what we truly needed was access to a wireless network. While we have a lot of love between us, neither one of us is great at sharing when it comes to time on the internet. Having neither the technical acumen for setting up our own server, nor the connections that would allow us to have a hardline to any form of internet, we decided we would see how right neighborly our neighbors were and check out if there were any publicly available Wi-Fi networks in our area. As it turns out, there were easy-to-access, unsecured Wi-Fi connections near where we live, but they were not exactly right on top of our home. So, we needed to get a Wi-Fi range extender. We went with the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender.
The Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender is a simple plastic box 7” tall by 5” deep by 1 1/2” wide. It comes with a stand that makes the tall device a little more stable and the whole purpose of the device is to find wireless signals and make them stronger to create a stronger wireless signal. This, quite simply, takes a weak Wi-Fi signal that is in the area, makes it strong and allows one to use that stronger signal to interact with the Internet. After almost a year of using the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender, I have to say it is generally effective and easy-to-use. This became a much more affordable solution for us than subscribing to a service that would charge us monthly.
Powered by a standard wall outlet, the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender is vulnerable to power surges because it operates on a two-prong power adapter. Even so, we have not had any issue with power supply problems with our Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender, despite living in a place where the power supply is interrupted occasionally. What is more of a problem for us is finding a secure place to place the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender for optimal results. In our neighborbood, higher is better for a Wi-Fi signal and as a result, we had our Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender precariously balanced near our window and, while that worked ideally, the unit was impossible to secure there. The first time the WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender fell three feet to the ground, the stand not only broke off, but split in half.
That problem aside, the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender seems to be very durable. After plugging it in and turning it on with the button on the back, the unit takes about a minute to boot up and find all of the local wireless networks. Once it has, a clear green LED on the front of the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender lights up and you have to program the box using your wireless-connected computer.
The Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender is generally easy to configure, as the unit is both plug-and-play and comes with its own software installed. When you first access the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender from your laptop, PC or other wireless device, you have to configure the box. Basically, you direct the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender’s software to pick the network signal you want to boost. If there is an unlocked network that you want to be able to log into, you simply choose that one and the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender uses that network to connect you to the internet.
While this is an excellent theory, the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender periodically “slips.” I’m not sure what the technical term is, but about once every two months, our Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender simply stops performing. The network we are connected to is still there, it is still unlocked, the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender simply stops connecting to it and my wife and I are temporarily without internet access. When we realize this is not simply an environmental issue with there being a signal interruption, we have to reconfigure the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender. That process takes about twenty minutes because we have to waste over a full minute holding a bent paperclip into the hole at the back of the extender to get the box to restore the original factory default settings. After that eventually happens, we have manages to always reconfigure the box, even if it is just reconnecting it to the same network we had been on before. The fact that this type of slippage occurs at all is annoying and deeply frustrating when it happens, but it is not a dealbreaker.
When it is properly working and calibrated, the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender takes a weak Wi-Fi signal that seems to originate from two or three houses away (easily over a tenth of a mile) and augments it so that we are able to use the internet in our house. At least as cool, the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender’s resulting signal is strong enough that we can be in a different room than the box and still have a decent signal. From a room away, we get strong Wi-Fi and that made the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender a great investment for us!
The Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender has very easy to understand status indicators on the front of the unit. There are three lights, one for the link between the box and the Wi-Fi network, one to indicate that the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender is on and a third that indicates that the extender is connected to a computer or computers. The most relevant one for most users will be the top light, which indicates to users if the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender is connected to the external signal. What is even better is that the color of that top light indicates the signal strength the box is receiving. Ideally, it is green and when that happens, both my wife and I tend to get clean, fast, high-speed internet service. When it is yellow, the connection is only good to the router and when that happens, our internet is sluggish and usually we try to convince each other that it is time to get off our computers! The red light in the status indicator informs us that the box has a poor connection and when that happens, it is virtually impossible for us to do anything online.
Whether you are connecting to an external network or simply boosting your own wi-fi because your house is just that big, the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Range Extender works well – if inconsistently – to keep you connected!
For other computer products, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Dynex 4 Port USB 2.0 Hub
Targus AWE45US1 HeatDefense Cooling Mat
APC ES350 Back-Up
For other computer product reviews, be sure to check out my Computer Hardware Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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