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Review Roundup: Extreme WiFi For The Home, Office & Road Warrior

Posted in Accessories, Reviews on 25/05/2014 by Chris Rauschnot

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WiFi is built into nearly every tech device in the home and those that we carry with us each day. Smartphones, tablets, cameras, 3D TVs, HD streaming movie boxes, home automation modules and the list goes on. We’ve nearly reached the point of what’s known as the Internet of things, where more everyday items will be connected.

Linksys WRT1900AC WiFi Router

Linksys WRT1900AC WiFi Router

With so many devices needing Internet access at home and on the go, WiFi routers, range extenders and personal hotspots that are below will do the job of keeping everything connected at full speed.

Overview

Linksys WRT1900AC WiFi Router

Linksys WRT1900AC WiFi Router Back

Linksys WRT 1900AC $249
The highly anticipated Linksys WRT 1900AC WiFi router incorporates a familiar design and top-of-the-line features. The router has four external dual band antennas, five Gigabit Ethernet ports, USB 3.0 and eSATA/USB 2.0, 256MB of DDR3 RAM and a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU. The WRT 1900AC is my top choice and is the clear winner when it comes to easy setup, throughput speed, cloud connectivity and firmware upgradability.


Linksys WRT 1900AC Unboxing

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU WiFi Router

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU WiFi Router

TRENDnet AC1900 $179
TRENDnet’s latest WiFi router offers an all-in-one solution without external antennas, which makes it easier to place on a desk or in a wiring closet. Wireless speed and range typically dip on this type of design, but TRENDnet has included a nice amount of power under the hood. The speed of 802.11ac WiFi on this router is better than most I have tested. The USB 3.0 port on the AC1900 enables robust file sharing across the network and its three-year warranty is greater than what most other manufacturers provide.


TRENDnet AC1900 WiFi Router Unboxing

Achieving full 802.11ac speed at more than a hundred feet away can be tough in an area that’s saturated with WiFi. That’s where wireless range extenders come into play by repeating signals of your WiFi router at up to 10,000 sq feet.

Netgear EX6200 802.11ac WiFi Extender

Netgear EX6200 802.11ac WiFi Extender

Netgear EX6200 AC1200 WiFi Range Extender $129
Netgear has stepped up with their AC1200 range extender, which delivers dual band 802.11ac WiFi at up to 1,200Mbps. It comes with five Gigabit Ethernet ports, Beamforming+ technology, 700mW amplifiers, USB 3.0 port and a dual-core 800MHz CPU. The USB 3.0 port is perfect for sharing a high-speed hard drive anywhere inside of the network or to the Internet.


Netgear EX6200 AC1200 WiFi Range Extender Unboxing

Amped Wireless REA20 WiFi Range Extender

Amped Wireless REA20 WiFi Range Extender


Amped Wireless REA20 WiFi Range Extender
$179
The REA20 from Amped Wireless goes to the extreme by incorporating 10 high-powered amplifiers (two 2.4GHz amps, four 5GHz 2-stage amps, four low noise amps), advanced 2-stage 802.11ac amps that boost signal twice, five Gigabit Ethernet ports, USB 2.0 port, guest network support, AirPlay and AirPrint compatibility and a 660MHz CPU. That adds up to almost 10,000 sq feet of extra WiFi coverage in a triple antenna design.


Amped Wireless REA20 WiFi Range Extender Unboxing

Amped Wireless REC15a WiFi Range Extender

Amped Wireless REC15a WiFi Range Extender

Amped Wireless REC15A WiFi Range Extender $99.99
The compact and single antenna REC15A 802.11ac compatible WiFi range extender provides dual band 2.4 and 5GHz support at up to 5,000 sq feet. It extends a wireless network in both bands discreetly or it can speed up 2.4GHz throughput WiFi via its BoostBand technology. Older 2.4GHz devices see a nice speed bump with this configuration. Its web-based dashboard was easy to setup and navigate in a few minutes.


Amped Wireless REC15A WiFi Range Extender Unboxing

Netgear Unite Pro Mobile Hotspot

Netgear Unite Pro Mobile Hotspot

Netgear Unite Pro $49.99 (with 2 year contract)
Laptops, tablets, smartphones and WiFi connected cameras are a few of the tech devices road warriors travel with daily. Having a personal WiFi network connected with 4G LTE is quick, secure and eliminates the need to pay hotels for an unsecure connection. Operating all aspects of the Unite Pro was easy with its color touchscreen and simple layout. It even has the ability to create an encrypted guest network. A 5GB plan is recommended for Netgear’s Unite Pro because of its ease of use and sharing capability.


Netgear Unite Pro Unboxing

Satechi Smart Travel WiFi Router

Satechi Smart Travel WiFi Router

Satechi Smart Travel Router $44.99
Traveling locally or abroad still leaves us wondering about needed charging options and WiFi. The Smart Travel Router has power connectors that fit electrical outlets for over 150 countries built-in, a USB port that supports 2.1A at 5V up to 10.5W, an Ethernet port and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi up to 150Mbps.


Satechi Smart Travel Router Unboxing
Conclusion

The Linksys WRT1900AC is my top choice of wireless router with superior range, blazing fast 802.11ac WiFi and NAS performance. Netgear’s EX6200 WiFi Range Extender is robust enough to meet the needs of top wireless users. Amped Wireless’ WiFi range extenders support up to 10,000 sq feet, which is excellent at their price points. The Netgear Unite Pro’s ability to handle 15 WiFi devices at up to 16 hours with its unique smartphone battery boost feature is the best I’ve seen in the industry at its contract price. Unite Pro’s dual-band wireless with intuitive color touchscreen allows you to have on-the-go advanced connectivity at a touch of a button.

The article and section about the Netgear Unite Pro was co-written with Bill Cody on Twitter.

Disclosure: All photos are courtesy of the above companies. I received review devices from the above companies. Neither Bill nor I were compensated for this review. I am a Netgear Ambassador. All thoughts and opinions are our own.



Chris Rauschnot

Author

Chris Rauschnot

Christopher is excited about technology, the web and engaging via social media. He's a conference and panel speaker and a Certified Apple Technician for over 10 years. He enjoys traveling, driving cool cars, flying in jets, food, events, red carpets and profiling celebrities when they visit his hometown of Las Vegas. Contact him christopher(at)mactrast(dot)com for review opportunities.