Wi-Fi is a fantastic creation and it’s hard to think of how we actually survived without it (believe it or not it’s now been with us for 25 years). While it makes all of our digital lives much easier and faster, it is the bane of our lives when it doesn’t quite reach to the parts of our homes and offices where it’s needed. It can be frustrating when it is slow or doesn’t work at all – just because you’re in a Wi-Fi “cold spot”. It’s understandable when we’re out and about, but it really shouldn’t be something we have to suffer at home too.
We have reviewed many Wi-Fi extender kits, many of which do a fantastic job to warm up those cold spots. devolo has released a new Wi-Fi ac Repeater, a standalone adapter that gives you the ability to extend your home’s current Wi-Fi network without the need for multiple adapters and cables. It has a claimed speed of up to 1200 Mbps and supports a single wired Gigabit Ethernet connection for when a wired connection is required. So for those of us with superfast broadband of 100 MB/s and above, this devices claims to let you access as much of that speed as possible.
devolo Wi-Fi ac Repeater
Retailing at a RRP of £49.99 – which is half the price of some powerline kits – it certainly makes some sense if you don’t require all of the bells and whistles in a more expensive system.
What’s in the box?
devolo keeps the WiFi ac Repeater package simple. In the box is a lone adapter with a footprint size of a pack of playing cards and twice the depth when plugged in. When in use, the device is compact enough to keep adjacent outlets so its dimensions shouldn’t cause an issue. That said, its depth may stop you placing some furniture flush to a wall directly in front of the socket. The only button on the device is for initiating a WPS connection to allow you to easily clone your current Wi-Fi setup.
Getting Up and Running
There are two ways to get the WiFi ac Repeater set up. A slim line installation manual does ship with the device, but configuration is so simple it’s almost unnecessary.
If you have a router with WPS functionality, it really is as simple as pressing the WPS button on the front of the unit and then pressing the WPS button on your router within 2 minutes. That really is it. Your existing Wi-Fi configuration is cloned and your router’s reach is now extended.
If you don’t have the option of WPS, all is not lost. The device can also be easily setup via a browser interface on a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone.
Once the Repeater has been plugged in for 40 seconds or so, it will transmit its own dedicated network designated as “devolo Wi-Fi Repeater”. Connect to this and access the browser configuration screen will allow you to make all the changes required.
Following a few simple, on screen instructions will allow the repeater to search for and clone your 2.4 and 5 GHz connections. You have a choice to either configure the same password for both bands or an individual SSID for each. You can also completely rename the extended networks if required.
This whole process takes just a few minutes to complete and once setup the adapter can be moved around your home without losing any of the settings. If you do need to make changes down the line, you can log into the adapter again via its IP address. Alternatively, resetting the adapter to factory settings can be performed by depressing the WPS for 10 seconds, which will then blink the indicator lights to show a reset has taken place.
In order to get the most from this device, you need to have it situated where there is already a relatively strong signal for it to repeat. Placing the repeater anywhere with a weak signal will mean it will just try to extend that weak signal, which leave you in a similar position to that in which you started.
With this in mind, I tried locating the repeater in my conservatory, where I already have a good signal. Installing the repeater allowed me to use my wireless devices at the very end of my 100 foot garden with very little drop in signal strength. My meagre 32 Mbps broadband connection was easily extended.
The devolo Wi-Fi ac Repeater can also function as an Access Point. If you already have a wired network but want the benefit of additional wireless connectivity or want to extend your wireless network again in areas where there currently isn’t one, you’re covered here too.
The access point feature works in reverse too. It can enable your wired devices access to the wireless world – for example, it could enable a set top box or a Smart TV without wireless support to be connected wirelessly to your network. It’s fair to say there are cheaper and simpler ways to do so but it is a handy feature to have available.
Overall, the devolo Wi-Fi ac repeater is a simple, cost-effective way of giving your wireless signal a boost if needed. So if you just need to extend your home or office Wi-Fi this will do the job and do it well.
devolo dLAN 550+ Wi-Fi Starter Kit
For some, however, the ability to extend Wi-Fi and have the ability to extend wired connections too is always going to be useful and devolo’s Powerline range are available for this exact purpose.
Back in May, we took a look at the devolo dLAN 550 Wi-Fi Starter Kit (check out the review here) and we really liked it. devolo hasn’t sat back and rested on the success of their earlier products. They’ve given their starter kit a slight boost in specs. This is more of an update than a full review as much of the functionality has been covered before.
The dLAN 550+ Wi-Fi starter kit, as the name intimates, has an addition – the added benefit of a pass-through plug on the Wi-Fi adapter.
The package will be familair to anyone that’s used the previous generation Starter Kit. Only the picture on the front of the box of two identically sized adapters gives any idea that something is different. This time the RRP is £109.99.
As before, you receive two adapters and an Ethernet cable. The major difference this time is that the original smaller adapter has been replaced with a full-sized device with a mains power pass-through. While some may have preferred the smaller Wi-Fi adapter of the earlier set, the new addition makes much more sense as you now don’t lose a power socket when using the device.
The adapter that connects to your router has an integrated Ethernet pass-through so you won’t lose an Ethernet port on your router either. All other features remain the same and the previous generation device – the same claimed 500 Mbps transmission speed, the same 300 Mbps Wi-Fi speed and the same 400 metre transmission range.
Getting Up and Running
Setup again is identical and incredibly simple. Placing the adapters in their respective positions will enable a connection via the electrical cabling in your home. Pressing the home button on the Wi-Fi adapter and then the button on the side of the adapter connected to your router within 2 minutes will secure the connection and then you are ready to go. Wired connections will be available immediately and any wireless connections can be configured using the supplied initial Wi-Fi access code.
It’s a shame to see nothing has changed with regards to the location of the preset Wi-Fi password (it’s on the back of the unit, and is therefore difficult to read when the device is plugged in) but it’s a minor point.
As with the earlier model, all settings can be accessed from a web browser or a dedicated app (devolo Cockpit) that can be downloaded from the devolo website for Windows, Mac or Linux installations.
Performance was practically identical to my tests on the previous generation kit. I used the kit with my 1080p Security Camera located in my garage where the Wi-Fi is weak and they performed as well as I’d expect with a fully wired connection. Once again wired speeds were up to 10% faster than wireless but performance varied around my home. As with the earlier set, this network is simple to expand down the line by buying additional Wi-Fi adapters (priced at £64.99 for the latest generation pass-through adapters).
We always state this but every home is different and performance will vary, but overall the added feature of the passthrough socket is welcome. The ability to extend a wired connection without actually having to bury network cable in your walls or under the floors is both cost-effective and convenient.
No matter how well your current router performs, in larger homes there is a good chance that its wireless signal won’t quite reach everywhere you want it to. The devolo WiFi ac Repeater and dLAN 550+ Wi-Fi Starter Kit, while similar in purpose, provides two options to get the best out of your Wi-Fi network. If you need the speeds that a wired setup delivers then the dLAN 550+ Starter Kit will be the perfect fit. However, if you simply need a quick and easy solution to extend your router’s wireless signal, then the Wi-Fi ac Repeater will be a reasonably priced addition to your home tech arsenal.