Amped Wireless is not as well known a wireless device manufacturer as D-Link or Netgear, but the company continues to put out some impressive consumer networking hardware. Not everything we test from Amped Wireless is a hit, but we are increasingly seeing excellent offerings, such as this Amped Wireless High Power 600mW Compact Wi-Fi Range Extender (REC10).
The wireless signal booster did not extend a signal quite as far in testing as our current Editors’ Choice, D-Link’s Wireless Range Extender DAP-1320. However, the REC10 did a good job extending a Wi-Fi network and is one of the most feature-rich range extender/signal boosters we’ve tested. These advanced capabilities go beyond what your typical wireless extender offers, making this signal booster more intriguing for power users.
The REC10 is a single-band extender (it only extends the 2.4 GHz band, as do most extenders, since the 2.4 band is capable of longer range), and it supports up to a theoretical 300 Mbps transmit/receive rate. This compact extender plugs right into an electrical outlet. It’s got that same kind of plug-in design as D-Link’s DAP-1320. The REC10 is a bit flatter than the DAP-1320 and sits more flush against a wall or outlet plate because it’s thinner, measuring 2.75 by 4 by 1 inches (HWD).
The device has dual 600mW amplifiers to help boost a Wi-Fi signal. There is also a detachable high-gain 2dBi antenna which screws to the top. Inside is yet another high-gain antenna. The vendor’s specifications state that the REC10 can cover up to 6500 square feet.
One hardware feature the REC10 has that D-Link’s extender lacks is an Ethernet port. This can be also add bridging functionality to the extender, for attaching a device like a server or a printer. That port alone may be enough to make you choose the REC10 over the DAP-1320. My only issue is that it’s only Fast Ethernet with 10/100 speeds and not Gigabit Ethernet, which is the standard these days.
At the bottom of the REC10 are WPS and reset button. The device supports Windows wireless printing, HP AirPlay, and Apple AirPrint Home Sharing so it can be used in mixed Apple and Windows networks.
The REC10 ships with a setup guide and a CD that contains a user manual and an installation video. Amped Wireless does a good job with all the products I’ve tested in providing clear and detailed setup instructions.
The setup guide first recommends placing the extender midway between your router and the area your wireless clients starts to lose connectivity. Once you plug the device into an outlet, the Amped Wireless logo on the front glows white.
After it’s plugged in, you simply connect to the default, unsecured SSID the extender is already configured with, “Amped_REC10.” Then, fire up a browser to setup.ampedwireless.com to configure the extender. Again, Amped Wireless does a fine job with consistency in setup across its product line. The setup process is essentially the same no matter which product you install: a booster, router, bridge … and so on. The documentation does caution you to use Chrome, Safari, or IE (8 and later) for the browser-based setup and not Firefox.
I tested the REC10′s ability to extend a Western Digital My Net 900 router’s wireless network. It’s important that these extenders work with third-party networking equipment; otherwise they are not of much value. Few consumers have only one vendor’s networking equipment deployed throughout their home networks. The REC10 worked well with the Western Digital router.
The browser-based setup opens to the Dashboard. This is a central console where you can configure the extender and view status information. To extend a wireless network, click the Scan button. A list of all wireless networks in range appears within the Dashboard. These networks are displayed by SSID, channel, 802.11x level, security and encryption type, and signal strength.
You then select the network you want to extend by clicking a radio button next to each network listed. This starts a wizard that walks a user through extending a network. You’re then prompted to click Next. If your network has a security passphrase, you have to enter it on this screen. Click Next again and the following screen allows you to clone settings from your wireless network, such as SSID and security, with a button click. You can keep a separate SSID and security set just for the extender. Most users will want to clone. When you clone, the SSID for the extender is given the same SSID as the network you are connecting it to, except “RE” is appended at the end of the extender’s SSID.
The last step, as in most of the Amped Wireless devices I test, is to apply settings which took 149 seconds in my testing. Amped Wireless devices tend to have long settings change and reboot times. Comparable devices can often apply the same changes in under 60 seconds, so the REC10′s reboot is a bit lengthy.
After the network is extended, the client used for setup is disconnected from the wireless network. I like that the software has an on-screen message indicating the connection drop and also the fact that there is a drop-down menu within the interface that shows you how to reconnect based on your device’s operating system.
I mentioned earlier, the REC10 has one of, if not the most, extensive feature sets of any wireless extender we’ve tested in the lab. It’s on par feature-wise with an access point. These features allow introduction of more advanced capabilities into a wireless network—even if the network has a lower-end router which does not have the same capabilities.
Among the REC10′s capabilities are a number of “Smart Features”—as they are described in the interface. Smart Features include Access Schedule: You can set when the extender’s Wi-Fi is enabled or disabled by day and time. Remember, this will only set a schedule for wireless clients connected to the extender’s SSID, even if settings were cloned from the router. User access control based on MAC address is another feature.
You can also adjust the output power to limit wireless coverage. You would want to do this if you are trying to limit how far geographically your SSID can be viewed by others. It’s also a good way to save on power usage if you are covering a smaller space. By default, the output is set to 100 percent and most users would be advised to leave the default.
Guest networking, WPS, WPA, and WPA2 are all supported. The interface allows for performing device management too, such as reviewing device status and network statistics (for example, amount of packets sent and received), setting up system logging, upgrading firmware, and backing up and restoring the REC10′s settings.
Amped Wireless always offers a sharp, consistent, well-designed, easy-to-navigate interface across its product line. As with other devices I’ve tested from this Amped Wireless, there is plenty of help within the interface. A tab in the upper-right corner provides contextual help and tips as you move through different settings in the interface.
The REC10 provided decent coverage in our very heavy-interference testing environment. It’s not the best we’ve seen as far as covering at long distance. That distinction goes to D-Link’s DAP-1320 and the BearExtender PC Long Range 802.11n USB WiFi Booster both of which managed to register throughput at distances of over 100 feet away from a router using the Ixia IxChariot utility’s throughput test.
Even at 100 feet, however, though Ixia could not pick up a signal from the extender, I was still able to browse the Web—albeit rather slowly, from a client connected at 100 feet. It wasn’t until I was 150 feet way that my connection to the extended network dropped.
I test these extenders not only at distance from the router, but through glass doors and a couple of sheet-rocked walls. It’s a demanding test, and the REC10 did well overall.
Click the image for performance comparisons to other range extenders.
Very Good Extender with Extensive Features
The Amped REC10 is a very good Wi-Fi extender. What pushes it to excellence is its easy setup, Ethernet port (although Gigabit would be preferable over Fast Ethernet), and advanced features. It’s a four out of five star earner among range extenders. If you are looking for a range extender that also has advanced features plus an Ethernet port, the REC10 is a good bet. If you are just looking for an extender that’s dead-simple to set up and that can cover quite a large area, check out our Editors’ Choice, the D-Link DAP-1320.
|Device Type||WiFi Extender|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc