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Wish it was faster, but still works well regardless
on January 13, 2013
The Netgear WN3500RP eliminated all the dead wifi-dead-spots in my home. The set up is very easy. It was literally up and running within 10 minutes. Areas of the house that used to have low reception now had "full bars" according to my Ipad. The trick of course is to find a place in your house that still has a good signal but is close enough to the "dead spots" that it will cover those areas once it's turned on.
At its default settings this range extender operates like two separate wifi signals for your home. For example, I have my main router's broadcast going out first (upstairs in my home office). Then once I placed this range extender downstairs (living room), it connects to my router's signal, and then broadcasts its own pair of signals - one in 2.4ghz, and one in 5ghz. These two additional signals is what you connect your streaming devices and game consoles to (Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, PS3 etc). The 5ghz band is the faster of the two signals, but only newer devices seem to use this. That is why the 2.4ghz band is also broadcast - so that all your devices can utilize the range extender's coverage.
The WN3500RP also has "Fastlane" mode where it dedicates its resources to only one band (you choose which band) and by doing so, increases the speed and performance of the range extender. In my case, I chose to turn on the Fastlane mode on the 5ghz band, and for one of my devices (the Roku 2XS) I directly connected it to the Range Extender with an Ethernet cable (the WN3500RB has an Ethernet port). Of course, this meant that the 2.4ghz broadcast wasn't going out from the range extender anymore. I figured that was ok because I use the Roku to stream video the most, and if other devices needed to use the 2.4ghz band in the future, I could always turn off the Fastlane mode and turn the 2.4ghz band back on.
Speed is good, but I wish it were faster:
There is a noticeable difference between the speed of the router's signal and the signal from the range extender. For instance, if I connect my Ipad wirelessly to my main router instead of the range extender, I typically notice a 20%-30% faster download time, even with Fastlane mode turned on. But since my HDTV is too far from the router, the range extender is the only choice I have to stream video to the HDTV. Yes, it's a small gripe. But since this range extender is typically more expensive than most, it's somewhat disappointing.
To set the range extender up, I followed the user's manual and used a laptop connected by Ethernet to my home network (you could do this wireless as well). At this default setting, the range extender works perfectly well - broadcasting both the 2.4ghz as well as the 5ghz band. But I wanted to run the Fastlane mode which meant I needed access to the configuration menu. In order to do this, I first had to use a device that was on the range extender's network (in this case, my Iphone). Then I could easily sign into the range extender's configuration menu and adjust settings to the Fastlane mode. (Devices not on the wireless network of the range extender couldn't seem to do this). This wasn't explained very well in the manual included. I had to actually go to Netgear's forums to find this out.
If you're looking for a good range extender that has dual band functionality, this is a good one. Just know that that accessing the configuration menu can be a little confusing after the initial installation. But once it's up and running it works quite well. Netgear even supplies a stand and separate power cable so that you can have it free-standing instead of plugged into a wall.