To anyone stuck at home with a spotty internet connection or dead zones, Wi-Fi range extenders sound like an easy and affordable solution.
Consumer Reports recently tested several and found that they can cure Wi-Fi woes in certain situations.
When the tests of Wi-Fi extenders were complete, two stood out. One was the Netgear Nighthawk EX7000 Wi-Fi Extender, which costs $90 to $140. The other was a less expensive option, the TP-Link RE220 Wi-Fi Extender, for $30.
Getting the most from a Wi-Fi extender relies on a lot of factors, including the speed of your internet provider’s connection, the distance between your router and the Wi-Fi extender, and the areas of your home you’re trying to cover.
CR says internet speeds from an extender may be slower than you’re used to. That’s because extenders cut speeds in half.
But if you’re having problems throughout your home, you may need a mesh network to see a significant improvement in your Wi-Fi. That’s a system of two or more units that work together to blanket your home with a strong Wi-Fi signal. But many good mesh networks cost $200 to $500.
A less expensive mesh network recommended by CR is the TP Link Deco Whole Home (3 pack) Mesh Router for $170 ($230 in Canada).
CR says a handy feature to look for when choosing a Wi-Fi extender or router is push-button WPS or Wi-Fi Protected Setup. If both devices have it, you can link your extender to your router with just the push of a button.