WiFi Amplifier

What is a WiFi Amplifier?

WiFi Amplifier – Two Meanings

The term WiFi amplifier is somewhat ambiguous – it is often used to refer to two different wireless networking devices. This happens because both devices amplify the signal of a wireless network; however they achieve this in different ways and have different outcomes. It’s important to understand the distinction, so that you can choose the right kind of WiFi amplifier for your particular networking needs.

Wireless Repeater

Wireless Repeater Amped SR10000The first type of WiFi amplifier is more usually called a wireless repeater or wireless range extender. This is a device that picks up an existing wireless signal broadcasted by a wireless router and re-transmits it, renewing the signal. It is intended for extending a network’s reach in a particular direction, such as an upper floor or the backyard. Generally a repeater will be placed somewhere in the middle between the main wireless router and the area that needs a signal enhancement.

Wireless repeaters are often found as multi-functional devices, which can operate as repeaters or as bridges or as access points, depending on how they’re configured. There are some devices that are repeater-only, and they tend to be simpler to setup. They are also often built to have a longer range than most multi-functional devices, though this is by no means true in all cases.

Wireless Signal Booster

Amped SB1000 Signal BoosterThe second type is a wireless signal booster. This is typically a device that is hooked up to the antenna connector of a wireless device and greatly increases the signal strength. These devices are useful if you’re trying to increase the signal throughout an office or household rather than increase the coverage in a certain area or room. This tends to work best if the router is in a fairly central location in the building. These antennas will usually have a few feet of cable by which to connect to the router’s antenna port, so they can be more conveniently placed (they are often wall-mounted).

Wireless signal boosters are compatible with most wireless routers, at least where being able to screw the booster into the router’s antenna port is concerned. The important thing to note is that the antenna needs to be compatible with the type of wireless network the router is using: a Wireless-G antenna won’t work with a Wireless-N router. Also relevant is the frequency on which the antenna can operate: just because it’s Wireless-N doesn’t mean it can operate on 5GHz (many are only compatible with 2.4GHz Wireless-N).

Both types of WiFi amplifier devices are featured on wifiamplifier.org, including reviews of best-selling devices from each category.

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Linksys RE1000 Review

Linksys RE1000The Linksys RE1000 Wireless-N Range Extender is a repeater-type WiFi amplifier. It can also function as a bridge, connecting devices without WiFi capabilities to a wireless network. The best thing about this device is its quick and easy installation. It comes with a CD wizard which will set everything up in just a few minutes. This is a great product for extending a wireless signal into low-coverage areas.

Features:

  • b/g/n support
  • High range with two internal antennas
  • Fast Ethernet port
  • Wall mounting or desktop placement options
  • Uses Quality of Service prioritization technology to improve performance and throughput stability

Pros:

  • Quick, simple CD isntallation
  • Flexible deployment: optimize location and position for best range
  • Generally cheaper than using a multi-functional device

Cons:

  • Only 1 Ethernet port – might need to use it along with an Ethernet hub for additional wired support (depending on the configuration)

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Hawking HSB2 Review

Hawking HSB2The Hawking HSB2 HiGain Signal Booster is an older signal booster designed for Wireless-G and N networks, and as such is only going to be compatible with older G or B routers. Its output is 500mW, which is quite sizable compared to the average peak of G routers which was 70mW. The cost is a little steep at USD $79.99 (find it cheaper on amazon), and on the whole it might be better to invest in a Wireless-N compatible signal booster like the Amped SB1000 or even invest in a new, more powerful Wireless-N router.

Features:

  • b/g support
  • 500mW power output
  • Adjustable power settings for more advanced configuring such as limiting the range perimeter

Pros:

  • Easy setup
  • Compact size
  • Uses signal filters to minimize wireless interference

Cons:

  • Does not support Wireless-N – only useful if trying to amplify the signal of an existing Wireless-G or N network

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Amped SR10000 Review

Amped SR10000The Amped SR10000 is a WiFi amplifier of the wireless repeater variety. This device has a quoted range of up to 10,000 square feet, which is very high compared to the range of most devices of this kind. Amped has a series of repeaters that scale based on range. The bottom device is the SR150 (3,000 sq ft), followed by the SR300 (5,000 sq ft). The next most powerful repeater is the SR10000 this review is about. Finally, at the top of this line is the SR600EX, which has a huge range of up to 1.5 miles(!), as well as a weatherproof enclosure. The best selling of the series appears to be the SR10000. This would be a great choice for enhancing the reach of your household or office wireless network into a particular direction: an upper floor, the backyard or the garage.

Features:

  • b/g/n support
  • Multiple modes: Wireless Range Extender, Wireless Access Point and Wireless Bridge
  • Five 10/100 MBps Ethernet connectors
  • 2 external 5dBi antennas

Pros:

  • Very easy to configure
  • Highly portable
  • Extremely long range

Cons:

  • A little pricey: around USD $130 (the best deal can be found at amazon). You may wish to consider the two cheaper models mentioned above if you don’t need quite as much range.

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Amped SB1000 Review

Amped SB1000 WiFi AmplifierThe Amped 1000mW Wi-Fi Signal Booster is a great representative of the signal booster-type WiFi amplifier. This device connects to a wireless router and greatly amplifies its signal strength in all directions. It has a four foot long input cable, making it easier to place this device in the best spot possible for convenience and range. Its output power of 1000mW is up to 20 times that of many normal routers, and should be exactly what you need to boost your signal in all surrounding areas.

Features:

  • b/g/n support (2.4GHz only)
  • 30dBm maximum output power
  • 4-foot connecting cable
  • Multiple mounting options: on a desktop, wall-mounted or magnetically attached to a metal surface

Pros:

  • Manufactured by Amped, which specializes in signal amplification – they are in the top end of the market for both wireless range extenders and signal boosters
  • High powered signal amplification
  • Lots of mounting possibilities

Cons:

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