This era that we live in is known to be the age of communication. No matter who you are or where you live, there is always a need to look something up or do something. This modern-day need for communication came with lots of innovations and ideas. Telephones, fax and much more.
The journey began wired telephones. Dial a number and get someone miles away on the phone. Talk, share and have things done. This certainly was a leap forward but a lot was still to come. The needs grew and so did innovation and invention. Engineers and researchers kept pushing to come up with new ideas, innovations, and solutions. Every obstacle became a challenge. This challenge then became a goal. This goal turned into a solution. This solution then becomes the foundation of a new invention. One cycle completes and the next one starts.
These innovations and solutions were not limited to commercial use. These innovations were certainly introduced to the masses. Bigger the market more space for growth. This also was a contributing factor to the push in technology and especially communication networks.
Every technology and solution was useful for a time. This era was then followed up with the time where it was maxed out and its limitations were exposed. At this point, the solution becomes a problem that needs solving. Once a solution is now a hindrance. Same was the case with telephone, fax, and mobile phone. The phone line was not enough so came the wireless pagers. This was followed by cellular phones. Telegraphs translated into the fax.
Introduction of wireless communication was a huge leap ahead. Fax lead to the introduction of the internet. Speed was initially the main concern. However, innovation, ease, and flexibility were also added to the need to do list.
The history of Wi-Fi is old and interesting. It involves experiments and black holes. Interesting, right? The first wireless packet network came to light in 1971. It was in the Hawaiian Islands where ALOHAnet used a UHF wireless packet network. ALOHAnet along with ALOHA protocol were the technologies leaders in the race to Ethernet.
Vic Hayes is known to be as the “father of Wi-Fi” in some quarters. He started working on this technology in 1974. This was when he became part of NCR Corp. A ruling in 1985 was a big boost in this regard. FCC approved the ISM band for unlicensed use. This covered frequencies in the 2.4GHz band. These frequencies are in common use and are subject to interference.
1991 saw NCR Corporation joining forces with AT&T Corporation. Together they came up with something many would call a precursor to the 802.11. The aim was to use it in cashier systems. The first wireless product was named WaveLAN.
Wi-Fi and black holes
The next big step towards Wi-Fi was an accident. This is the past where black holes come in. John O’Sullivan was an Australian radio-astronomer. He along with his colleagues developed a key component of the Wi-Fi we use today. This was a by-product of a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization research project. It was a failed experiment whose aim was to detect exploding mini black holes that were the size of an atomic particle.
802.11 And 802.11b
CSIRO twice obtained patents for a method, 1992 and 1996. This was later used in Wi-FI to “unsmear” the signal. This lead to the launch of the first version of the 802.11 protocol. This launch in 1997 achieved 2 Mbps link speeds. An upgraded version was launched in 1997. 802.11b allowed 11 Mbps link speeds. A popular and a big step forward.
This rapid progress in speeds along with the reduction in price made 802.11b even more popular. This rapid acceptance made it the ultimate wireless LAN technology. However, 802.11b devices using 2.4 MHz band experience interruptions. These interruptions were caused by devices like microwave, baby monitors, Bluetooth devices, and other amateur radio equipment that used the same band.
802.11a: OFDM waveform
The 802.11a and the original standard use the same frame format and data link layer protocol. The difference is that the latter uses OFDM based air interface. It operates at 5 MHz band with a capacity data rate of 54 Mbps. It also includes data correction control.
June 2003 saw a new modulation standard: 802.11g. It works in the 2.4GHz band but uses the OFDM based transmission scheme. It works on a maximum physical layer bit rate of 54 Mbps. It excludes forward error correction codes.
802.11n is an improvement on 802.11 standards. It incorporates multiple-input-multiple-output antennas (MIMO). 802.11 operates on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. It operates at maximum data rates ranging from 54 Mbps to 600 Mbps. The IEE approved this amendment and it was published in October 2009.
802.11ac is an amendment to 802.1. It was published in December 2013. The changes were made to include a wide range of channels (80 or 160 MH) in the 5 GHz band. The changes also include more spatial streams (up to eight), higher-order modulation (up to 256 QAM) and the addition of Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO).
IEEE 802.11-2016 is a revised version of 802.11-2012. It incorporates 5 amendments. Existing MAC and PHY functions were enhanced and outdated features were removed or marked for removal.
Why Wi-Fi Extenders?
How often have you experienced weak signals or disconnection? In your own house! You walk towards the door the signals drop and half step outside the door and you’re no longer connected. This hurts. This is not how it should be. It almost brings back old memories. Those 80’s and 90’s and phone nailed to the wall. Pick the receiver up and start walking. As soon as you step out the kitchen door you feel a pull and you know that the cord has reached its limit. The same happening in 2018? Feels like living in ancient times.
Imagine you’re playing a game. You’re a single tap away from becoming the last man standing. You are just one turn before you finish top of the race. All you have to do is press that button once and you are the last man standing, you finish first, win a tournament. You know you are going to do it and you start walking up the stairs. Slowly but with confidence. No rush, no hurry and you in total control. You take the last step on the stairs and feel your game is lagging. Take a step back down the stairs. See the ring moving in circles and a new screen appears. Your avatar is dead, your car smashed in the wall and you lost the game. Why did this happen? You hit the dead zone!
A dead zone is an area in your house where you have connectivity issues. This range from weak connection to no connection at all.
There can be a number of reasons. Some of them are:
- Concrete floor or ceilings
- Metal obstructions like filing cabinets and refrigerator
- Appliances like cordless phones and microwaves that use radio waves
What are Wi-Fi extenders?
Now that we know what Wi-Fi and dead zones are, it is time to learn about Wi-Fi extenders. A Wi-Fi router is present in almost every house. It enables you to use the internet without wires. The trouble starts when you have a large house or for some reason, you are unable to catch Wi-Fi signals. This causes interferences or dead zones.
A Wi-Fi extender is exactly what the word explains. It is an extension of the Wi-Fi, with your router as an access point. Why do you need a Wi-Fi extender? Here are a few possible reasons:
- Wi-Fi dead zones in your house
- You want to take your Wi-Fi outdoors and extend the current range
- Strengthen the connection at all times in your house
Choosing a Wi-Fi extender
Feeling the need for something in the time of trouble can be frustrating. You start looking for solutions. Once you find one, you rush to seek it. This is where you can go wrong. Making haste may let you skip your research and get the first thing you lay your hand on.
Solving dead zone troubles can be frustrating and costly. Getting a Wi-Fi extender can cost you from $30 to $200. Rushing into a decision may prove futile and cost you money, time and further frustration. Take a look at a few things that you need to look into before getting a Wi-Fi extender:
When you are looking for your options for getting a Wi-Fi extender it is important to know your network capabilities. This helps to get an extender that suits your network speed. When coupling a Wi-Fi router with an extender the combination of the two is all that matters. The extender has to match the specifications of the existing router. If not, you may have to deal with financial loss, time and effort.
For example, DOCSIS 3.0 technology works with the hardware issued with Mediacom internet packages. Any extenders that do not support this technology will cause trouble and chances are they might not even work at all.
When you decide on getting an extender, be sure to check its specifications and details. Knowing the details and limitations of your router will enable you to make the right choice.
No one sits at one place in a house. Living means moving about. Go to the kitchen, the bathroom and of course the bedroom. Moving about in your own house should never mean that you have to connect to a different network. There are a few Wi-Fi extenders that can take away the nuisance of connecting to a different network.
Routers and extenders come with roaming technology are known as Seamless Roaming or Smart Roaming. It allows you to roam about without disconnecting with one network and establishing a connection with another one. This seamless technology ensures that your device is not interrupted.
Wall plug vs Desktop
Primarily there are two types of Wi-Fi extenders: wall plug extenders and desktop extenders. Wall [lug extenders are directly plugged into a wall socket. Desktop extenders, on the other hand, are similar to normal routers and are placed on a flat surface.
A wall plug saves some space on your desk but will take up a plug. When you choose on getting one, ensure that it is a slip and does not hand out from the plug and does not occupy much space.
Desktop extenders usually have more features and a greater Wi-Fi signal range. The only trouble is that you will have to make some space for it.
Both types of extenders come with external antennas. These antennas help the extender with signal strength and greater coverage area. The best of Wi-Fi extender comes with a combination of signal boosting, speed performance and user-friendly features.
Wi-Fi Extender to look for in 2018
Now that we have completed our groundwork, it is time to get to the topic at hand. All that information in order to develop an understanding of how things actually work. It is essential to know the details before you can make a decision. An informed decision is a key to get what you want. That too without spending exorbitant amounts of money.
Enough with the nitty-gritty, here are the top 10 Wi-Fi extenders to look for in 2018:
1. NETGEAR Powerline 1000
When it comes to broadening your wireless network reach, NETGEAR PowerLINE 1000 is amongst the best available options. The wiring setup in your house or apartment will be decisive to determine whether this beautiful gadget is the ultimate solution for you or not.
This unique device is composed of two units. One that plugs into your modem or router. The other one uses power from a plug on a different room or location. These units then transmit signals using the electrical wiring system. This ensures network expansion even if there are thick brick walls. Nothing stands in the way of your NETGEAR PwerLINE 1000.
A utility is not the only thing that matters. Security is equally important. The NETGEAR Powerline 1000 uses HomePlug AV technology to ensure your privacy stays intact. This makes the security with encryption.
Last but the not the least, speed. If your extender does not support the speeds you desire, it is not worthy of your time, attention and money. NETGEAR Powerline 1000 is capable of achieving gigabit speeds using your electrical wiring.
2. NETGEAR EX3700
The NETGEAR EX3700 is easy to use. This Wi-Fi extender supports dual-band Wi-Fi and the 802.11ac standard. This easy to use device has a wall plug design with two adjustable antennas. It has a fast connecting Ethernet port that enables you to connect it to a desktop, game, console or any other device.
The NETGEAR EX3700 is equipped with the company’s FastLane technology. This technology allows this device to broadcast the same Wi-Fi network simultaneously on both 2.4 GHz 5 GHz bands.
How do you measure your Wi-Fi signal strength? NETGEAR makes it simple for you. They have released a handy app that does that for you. The app goes by the name WiFi Analytics which you can use on your smartphone.
3. TP-Link AC750
TP-Link is no newcomer to the network hardware arena. The AC750 is a budget-friendly device. This device offers a variety of features at a low cost. This is a definite option when the budget is a constraint.
The device offers a unique feature. It has a dedicated high-speed mode that makes your gaming and streaming a wonderful experience. You can now prioritize consoles and devices. This enables them to get greater bandwidth in comparison to the other devices. The device supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, bands.
The signal strength meter may not be a very high tech but it certainly takes the trial and error away. TP-Link AC750 has a LED indicator that shows you the signal strength it is receiving. This helps you to place the Wi-Fi extender in the ideal place to maximize the signal strength.
The TP-Link AC 750 also offers flexibility. How? It supports a variety of old routers and modems. The AC750 supports all 802.11 b/g/n/ac devices. So, if you have an older hardware this smart, relatively less cheap and flexible device is your option. Simple and flexible that is not too heavy on the pocket.
4. Coredy AC1200
Coredy AC1200 offers flexibility in a budget. The looks are impressive with its 4 antennas. These moveable antennas ensure utility does not mess up the design. It comes with two Ethernet ports that allow you to connect to wired networks. This device can also be sued to create new wireless networks.
Design and utility are not all this device have to offer. The device is also easy to set up. You can set up manually through your internet browser or by using the one-touch WPS button. Coredy AC1200’s flexibility does not end here. It is compatible with almost every router. Whether you have old hardware or new, with Coredy AC1200 you are good to go.
This supports both the bands. When you are looking for the extra range, connect to the 5GHz band and you should be sorted. How about that? Best of both the worlds, the speed with a big range!
5. Linksys AC1200
Linksys AC1200 is compact and simple. This device does not need any configuration. This saves you from the painstaking set up process and complicated configurations. The best thing? This is just the beginning.
This smart device takes best from both the worlds. It combines both the bands (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) and creates a new one. This results in a faster and more reliable connection. The performance and reliability of Linksys AC1200 are greater than your average Wi-Fi extenders.
The smart device by Linksys also has to offer a special feature. It is capable of streaming music. It allows you to connect an external speaker and enhances the audio quality. This unique feature can especially attract the music lovers out there.
6. Google Wi-Fi
Google Wi-Fi is a mesh style extender. It comes with three round devices that look similar to Amazon’s Echo Dot. Each of these little devices has a range of 1500 Squares feet. Three of them combined to give you a massive 4500 square feet of mesh-style Wi-Fi network.
The Google Wi-Fi does not have physical ports to connect to a wired network. On the other hand, the easy setup and a greater coverage range make up for it. You connect one of the three to the router and the other two will work as extenders.
They use both the available bands and automatically identifies the band that suits your network capabilities.
The setup process is easy with Google Wi-Fi. All you need to do is get the app and you will be able to manage our network, set up guest networks, test your network and speeds. Google Wi-Fi probably is the best solution to set up a mesh network that is quick, stylish and easy on the pocket.
7. D-Link DAP-1650
Looking for a fast, stylish and capable Wi-Fi extender? D-Link DAP-
Should be on your list. It is economical and offers dual-band connectivity. Its sleek and stylish design makes it easy to place anywhere you like. With its four Gigabit Ethernet ports make it an ideal choice to set up with a smart TV, wired PC, or an old-fashioned wired printer.
The DAP-1650 is easy to set up. It is also compatible with older router models like 802.11 n, b, g, and a. Security too is not neglected here. It provides WPA or WPA2 security level as well. This makes it good with range and great with security.
8. D-Link DAP-1520
This socket plug-in Wi-Fi extender expands the coverage area with a push of a button. Wireless-AC technology equips this device with the throughput of up to 750 Mbps. If you ever have to restart or reset your device, you can always save the settings. This saves you from the hassles of configuring the device all over again.
This device is a solid option for basic level use. The affordable price of D-Link DAP-1520 comes at the expense of no Ethernet, USB, or audio inputs.
Nathan John works as a content editor at Digitaltvbundles.com and he has seven years of experience in content writing. He contributes on various online communities and write about technology, entertainment and business.