D-Link has a new wireless range extender that’s not only one of the smallest you’ll find on the market, but is incredibly easy to set up and delivers terrific coverage. In fact, the D-Link Wireless N300 Range Extender (DAP-1320) was able to sustain the most throughput at long distance of any wireless range extender I’ve tested. Even better, I tested it not with a D-Link router, but with a competing vendor’s router, and the device still worked without a hitch.
The DAP-1320 looks like a power adapter—it’s only 2.11 by 1.65 by 1.89 inches (HWD) with two prongs, and it plugs directly into an electrical outlet. This simple yet powerful piece of wireless technology has just a single WPS button on its side and one LED to show you connection status.
The extender is single-band only, so it won’t extend 5GHz Wi-Fi, which is perfectly okay, because it’s the 2.4GHz band that can travel longer distance.
Included in the package are a quick install guide and a card that has the extender’s default SSID and password as well as the URL to the web-based GUI printed on it.
The installation guide suggests that best placement for the extender is mid-way between the router and the Wi-Fi clients you are connecting to the router. In my testing environment, that placement proved to be too far from the router for set up. No problem: I performed setup with the extender about 5 feet from the router and then, once the extender was connected, moved it to a more central location.
You can set up the DAP-1320 using WPS or by connecting to the web GUI. I plugged it in and the LED blinked red, turned green, and then blinked amber. According to the device’s instructions, when it blinks amber, you should use WPS to pair the extender with a router.
I used WPS and it worked fine connecting to my router. I did not pair D-Link’s extender with a D-Link router. I used another vendor’s router, the Western Digital My Net N900; I did this purposely, to see if there would be connection issues with another vendor’s equipment. There weren’t.
Once the LED turned from amber to solid green I had the extender connected. I reset it back to factory settings to see how the manual setup fared. With the manual method, I plugged in the extender, waited for it to turn amber, and then could connect to the extender’s Wi-Fi. After connecting, launching a browser automatically opened the extender’s web-based connection setup wizard.
The wizard asks if you want to connect the extender to a router via WPS or Manually. With a manual connection you can select the network you want to extend and can opt to use the extender’s default SSID or set the SSID name and credentials to the Wi-Fi network with which you’ve connected the extender.
That’s the setup process—a few scant minutes, and very easy. I do caution that you may have to connect the extender close to your router and then position it where you want. Also, I made a change to my router’s settings that disconnected the extender at one point. I had to reset the extender back to factory settings and set it up again. However I did not mind, since setting up the device is so quick.
Not only can I sing the praises of the device’s incredibly easy setup, but it also delivered praiseworthy performance. It extended my router’s signal to an area throughput never reaches, a real dead spot that my testing software, IxChariot, typically registers as 0 Mbps. From 150 feet away from the extender, in an environment saturated with access points, D-Link’s little extender still managed .4 Mbps of throughput. Yes, that’s not even 1 Mbps of speed, but it was enough to browse the Internet—slowly, but reasonably. While the BearExtender PC Long Range 802.11n USB WiFi Booster gave faster speed at a distance of 100 feet, it dropped the signal at 150 feet. Below is a chart comparing the DAP-1320′s performance to other wireless range extenders:
Check out the performance comparisons with the DAP-1320
The DAP-1320 is one of the best wireless networking devices I’ve tested from D-Link, and among all of the extenders I’ve tested, it provided the best coverage. I was also impressed with how well it worked with another vendor’s equipment. I’m confident that this little device, which did an impressive job of extending my test Wi-Fi network deployed in a high-rise office building with hundreds of access points all around, will work extremely well for the average home user. D-Link Wireless Range Extender gets a 4.5 out of 5 star rating, and is PCMag’s Editors’ Choice for wireless range extenders.
|Device Type||WiFi Extender|
|Networking Options||802.11a/b, 802.11n (2.4 GHz only)|
|Access Control Lists Based on MAC Addresses||Yes|
|Security||WPA, WPA2, WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup)|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc