This is the new Netgear EX3800 wireless range extender and it is a conundrum.
Unboxing and setup was a doddle. Plug it in. Wait a few seconds for it to boot. Tap the WPS button on the side, tap the WPS button on the router, and about a minute later (which seemed longer) the two are connected.
Find the range extender on your device, be a phone or laptop or tablet, tap to connect and key in your existing password, and it’s all done. It is that quick.
However, here’s the snap. The little light that shows the quality of connection to the router showed up red on our test unit. BUT, the connection was great and I could watch YouTube vids in HD without a quiver.
Move the £40 unit closer to the router, I would hear you say if you were in front of me. Well no. My existing extender from Asus is plugged in the same place and works just fine, or at least is reporting working fine.
And the Netgear is working fine too – it is just reporting a ‘poor’ connection with my 200meg Virgin Media Super Hub. Most odd.
Setup can be done using the usual web browser method too. Open a broswer on your WiFi device, key in the Netgear address found in the manual, click new extender setup and follow the short simple instructions.
Speedtest time. Right in front of the Netgear EX3800 and I was getting 24Mbps and then sitting in front of the router away from the extender, it dropped to 22.9. Impressive, and remember that poor connection between router/extender. Confusing – perhaps it is a glitch. Tried it all again, and still red, and still working fine.
Brought the extender and device into the same room as the router and speed nipped up to just over 24Mbps on 5GHz. And the router light stayed green so perhaps a little over-fussy.
Nice thing about the Netgear EX3800 is that it kicks out 2.4 and 5GHz signals at the same time, so there is no more additional set up if say like me, your phone works on 5GHz but laptop doesn’t. WiFi Analyser shows a substantial signal both right in front of it, and from two rooms away. Once set up, you can move it around without any additional setup. It just remembers everything, which is nice.
By comparison, my Asus produced speeds of low 30s right in front of it, and mid-teens away from it. So fast if you are close and slower as you move away showing the Netgear really does have some reach.
As you can clearly see, this also has a pass-through for the power plug, so you don’t lose a wall socket plugging this in – all extenders should be built this way. And of course, there is an ethernet socket on the side to allow hard wiring, if you need to, or use it as a wireless access point for a no-wireless router.
The real world operation of the EX3800 is very good, in spite of what that one light on it suggests. I would recommend one.