Before getting down to the desired features in a WiFi repeater, it might be a good idea to gain a better understanding of the concept behind it. It is required because a wireless network has a finite range which sometimes has to be extended. It can be done in a number of ways. For example, it’s possible to get a more powerful router or add a booster to ramp up signal strength, or the reach can be enhanced by adding repeaters.
Network repeaters or range extenders are simple devices which send and receive network data to and from a router much like a wireless-enabled laptop or tablet. The difference is that the extender also rebroadcasts the network. This effectively brings coverage to an additional area previously unreachable by the router’s original network.
All that is required is for repeaters to be strategically placed. It has to be a location where it can receive the network signal and broadcast it out to the desired area. Practically speaking, it comes in handy for patching the network through to garages, parking lots, yards, gardens, lobbies, corridors and other such spots that are too far out from the router, but still a part of the property.
The main features to consider are the price and the range of the extender. The price obviously varies depending on the make and model. As a general rule, look for repeaters that can enhance the original network reach by at least 50 percent. You can find these types of repeaters by checking out some wifi extender reviews. These devices have range indicators that will show how far the network is being rebroadcasted.
Another factor to consider is the bandwidth available to the user through the extender. There will inevitably be some throughput loss when the extender accepts and retransmits network data packets. The bandwidth is further limited since both the router and repeater are transmitting and receiving on the same frequency. If possible, find a device which uses one frequency for communicating with its own users and another one for talking to the router. Even so, be prepared for at least some reduction in bandwidth over the original network.
Compatibility is rarely a problem nowadays, because most repeaters follow the IEEE 802.11n standard and are universally compatible. Just switch it on and let it find and acquire the router’s network. It doesn’t require any settings or complicated installation unless there are security issues, in which case access permissions or encryptions have to be implemented.
Repeaters can be used to create mobile Wi-Fi hotspots if they powered through a USB connector linked to a laptop or tablet. The arrangement can be hauled anywhere to provide temporary network access for multiple users. Apart from the wireless rebroadcast, many repeaters also offer wired access through a limited number of Ethernet ports.
Certain green features are now considered essential in a WiFi repeater. For instance, many range extenders come with automatic switches that turn off the device when not in use and bring it back on only when there is data to be transmitted. The packaging used is increasingly being made from recycled or biodegradable material. More info can be found at Bestevaer.com and be sure to check out my online store Lullaby Lane.