• Manufacturer: Trendnet
• Website: www.trendnet.com
• Required spec:
Existing 802.1 In/g/b wi-fi network
You may have noticed that wi-fi performance is great downstairs in your home, when you’re ten feet from the router, but it’s less wonderful in that back bedroom or out in the garden.
There are numerous ways to improve that performance, but most of them can be expensive. The TEW-737HRE from Trendnet is a low-cost alternative, being an N-class wi-fi range extender.
As with many devices from Trendnet, the focus here is on simplicity, and deployment of the TEW-737HRE is exactly that.
Using your phone, laptop or tablet you need to find a location in the house where the wi-fi signal is reasonably strong but is much closer to the ‘dead zone’ or problem area. Then you find a power socket for the extender, and after plugging it in, head back to your router to push the WPS button.
Once you’ve pushed the corresponding WPS button on the extender, the network should sync, and the wi-fi extender will rebroadcast the wi-fi signal from that location.
The beauty of this is that it doesn’t require a disc or any system modifications, and you don’t even need to log a new access point and password, as your existing encryption method remains unchanged. Obviously, if you change router, then you’ll need to repeat the installation process.
For the most part, other than the occasional disconnection, the hardware worked as advertised. However, it did curiously have a number of features that Trendnet didn’t seem keen to promote.
One of these is an Ethernet port, which Trendnet suggests is for web-based configuration but actually works like I’d anticipated as a means to access the network. So in essence you can use this in reverse, as a mini access point, if you’re willing to muck about in the web interface.
It’s also listed in the documentation as being having a WISP mode for wide area wi-fi broadband, though I’ve no realistic way of testing this functionality in my region. I suspect there’s plenty you can do with this item that Trendnet would rather keep users away from, on the basis of managing support calls.
In practical terms, the biggest issue of all wi-fi extenders is that they operate an overlapping broadcast, which can impair performance closer to the router source. I didn’t experience this myself, but I’ve seen reports from people that have those issues, especially with older pre-N routers.
I take the view that the best solution is to use a Powerline extender, where you can place the device where you can get little or no signal from the existing setup. It’s extra work and less convenient, but it can deliver better results. However, depending what your exact situation is, the TEW-737HRE can be a very cost effective way to eliminate those wi-fi dark areas on your property.