More and more, people are heavily relying upon their wireless connections at home. Data limits on your cell phone plan push you to wireless at every turn, and with the increase in streaming services available (audio and video) in the last few years, good wireless coverage is important. The problem is, unless your home is like mine and the walls are paper thin, the construction materials used on your house may inconveniently impede good wireless signal throughout your home.
And, wireless isn’t just important in the house: maybe you have an outdoor TV on your patio, or you want to extend your wireless whole-home sound system to your detached garage. It is, after all, 2016; these are things any normal person would want… (right?)
The 2005 solution to that problem is a wireless access point. I personally love the EnGenius and UniFi products for home wireless coverage. The only problem with those is their dependence on a wired feed from your router or modem. And, there are configuration considerations if you have an ISP-provided gateway with built-in wireless.
Enter the Linksys MaxStream RE7000-AC1900 Wall Plug In Range Extender. Here’s a device that, when configured, will pick up and re-transmit the wireless signal already in your home, no network cable required. Plug it in and let it do its job.
The configuration was harder than it had to be—and that’s not Linksys’ fault. If you have already have a Linksys WI-FI router that supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup, configuration of the MaStream RE7000 is a breeze. Unbox, plug in, press the button on the side of your router and range extender, let them find each other, and the configuration is done. It is a similar process to pairing a wireless controller to your XBox One…very simple.
Configuration without Wi-Fi Protected Setup is far from difficult…unbox, plug it in, connect to it wirelessly with your PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet, navigate to a web page, answer a few simple questions about your existing wireless network and how you want to access the physical device (if necessary), and wait for the thing to reboot. And then you’re done.
Once you configure it, you have to position it…and this is probably the most time-consuming part of the process. In the configuration tool for the device is a “spot finder” that will show you whether or not the outlet you’ve used is too close, too far, or just the right distance from your router. The only problem is, every time you test a new outlet, you have to wait for the range extender to power cycle in its new potential home.
But once it’s set, there’s nothing else to do. The web-based configuration options are just enough to make the home-networking enthusiast happy, and provides a great GUI experience that is very intuitive.
One other note: it ALSO can act as an access point. It has a built-in gigabit ethernet port if you have existing wiring in your home and like to have some flexibility with wired vs. wireless. Also, if you have an existing AP in your house, you will be able to extend your wireless EVEN FARTHER by riding the wireless from that AP as opposed to your main router’s wireless output (just keep in mind that it will not extend your router’s 5GHz signal if it can only reach an older AP that is operating only at 2.4GHz).
So, who needs this? Well, I suppose it depends on the size of your house. But, probably everyone…and I mean that. There’s nothing worse than when you’re at a friend’s house and you are having trouble accessing their wireless and have to utilize your cell phone’s data plan to show off that really awesome cat video you saw on Youtube. Friends don’t let friends use their data plans…and you shouldn’t either.
The ease of setup and price point of this product are great for what you get. It would be hard to find a connected home with multiple streaming devices that wouldn’t benefit from using a device like this.
Of particular interest with this device is its ability to extend 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals, and when paired with a strong wireless AC router (perhaps the Linksys EA9500) you will be able to count on a long-lasting and strong home wireless network. I don’t see this device being outdated too soon—it’s a relatively dumb device that just rides and repeats an existing Wi-Fi signal…so as long as you have an existing Wi-Fi signal, you shouldn’t have any issues utilizing this product.
I think this thing is great. I would pay $100-$150 for a good access point, which this is, but it is also a decent range extender with a good browser-based toolset for some simple management and QoS settings.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars only because the Wi-Fi Protected Setup doesn’t jump out as an option, even if your router supports it: the button on the side of the router and the range extender should look the same, and they don’t…so I didn’t realize it was an option. Also, the built-in Spot Finder requires patience, or a very long extension cord, to find the exact right place to plug it in.
That said, simple to setup even without WPS, good management and control, and a Spot Finder that shows you exactly where to place the device make for a good setup and user experience at a slightly high, but accessible, price point.