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Customer Review

69 of 77 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Painful setup - horrible documentation - wish it worked, June 13, 2012
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This review is from: Linksys N300 Wireless Dual-Band Range Extender (RE1000) (Personal Computers)
I purchased the RE1000 to extend the signal of a Cisco 4200 wireless router in a large home where I was not getting a good signal in the opposite corners of the home from where the original router was located.

I tried to use the Setup CD and while it seemed like it worked, it did not / could not recognize the router. After about 2 hours of attempting the automated and manual setup processes I finally got this to work, but I probably could not repeat the exact steps again if I had to. The setup process is RIDICULOUSLY COMPLEX and UNDOCUMENTED.

None of the Cisco provided documentation or website support is useful in any way.

A few notes:

1) If you opt for manual setup (which is the only way I can get it to work), the security settings on the Range Extender need to be EXACTLY the same as the security settings on your router. This includes not only the password, but also the security type (WEP, WPA, etc.)

2) The "Wi-Fi Protected Setup" button is completely undocumented and I have no idea what this does or how/why to use it. Even following the steps recommended in the manual admin console it does nothing.

3) The rate at which the Cisco logo blinks on the router will tell you if it is working properly or not. Good luck finding out how to interpret the different blinking rates/patterns.

4) There is much discussion on the internet about needing to set up a Static IP address. I did not need to do this in order to get it to work.

5) There is a very important screen in the Range Extender admin screen where you click the wireless source you would like to pair the range extender with. When you click the radio button it then pops up an OTHERWISE HIDDEN SCREEN which allows you to pair the devices. The main screen should say something simple like "Pick the router you would like to link the Range Extender with" but it does not say anything of the sort. I think I clicked the right thing by accident and this is what ultimately was required to get the range extender to work.

6) It is possible to reset the range extended to the factory settings (which I had to do about 5 times before it worked). Good luck finding out this undocumented trick.

7) Most importantly, and this is my favorite part, if you can see the Network Extender appearing in your list of available wireless networks, this means that it is NOT WORKING properly. If it is working properly, it DISAPPEARS from your list of available networks and you only see the original source router. When the range extender is working properly there is no evidence that the range extender is actually working (except the blinking logo, maybe? Note: it also blinks when it is not working at all. ) This sure would have been an interesting tidbit of information for Cisco to pass along to consumers.

Setup Wizard CD - F
Enclosed Documentation - F
Online Documentation - F
On Screen Documentation in Manual Setup - F
Ability to automatically ink with other Linksys/Cisco routers - F
Signal strength - A
Connection consistency - F
Speed - F

My recommendation is to buy the refurbished unit at half the price of the new one. There are probably thousands of these things in perfectly good working condition that get returned to Cisco simply because they are too difficult to set up. UPDATE - I do not recommend buying this product in any way. In fact if someone offers to give it to you for free, save yourself the headache and respectfully decline their offer (and recommend that they destroy the unit so they do not give it to some other unsuspecting person).

Cisco does not deserve to make any money on this product due to poor documentation, lack of support, and generally horrible quality.

==REVISIONS to intial review ================================
I revised my initial review to include another "F" grade for connection consistency. This thing contantly drops the internet connection but still shows 3 bars of signal. This is the most unorthodox thing I have ever seen. Even if you do the firmware upgrade and change it to Static IP address, as suggested, it drops the connection continously (every 15 minutes or so).

Also added an "F" grade for speed. When the extender does connect to the internet it runs at about 1/10th the speed of my wireless router (3 mbps, vs. 30 mbps). Basically this unit will pick up the signal from your main router and drop the speed by at least 50% as it transfers it. So while "range extender" is technically a correct name for this unit, it does nothing to increase the speed of an already slow signal. Whatever signal it picks up, it "forwards" that signal at 50% of that speed (best case).

== Second REVISION to initial review ========================
After messing around with this thing for over a week I finally got it to be marginally functional but still far below my expectations. And it pretty much requires a degree in wireless network engineering to get this thing working. Update:
1) Location of Extender: The range extender is very tempermental and getting it in the right location in your home is critical. To do this I needed to test it in about 10 different locations and use one of the "speed test" apps on your computer to test speed at various points in your home with the range extender plugged into different location. However, you also need some other supplemental tool to see which router you are connected to because the Range Extender uses the exact same name as your main router. You need something that will show you the MAC address of the device you are connected to (you will quickly commit this address to memory by the time you actually get the unit to work). My range extender works best when it is as far away from my main router as possible (on opposite side, second floor of 5,000 sq ft home).

2) Connection Dropping: As noted above, the range extender was dropping the connection (and still showing 3 bars!) about 10 times per hour on average. This appeared to have nothing to do with the location. I tried setting up the range extender with a static IP address and this did nothing to help. I found another tip on the internet and set up a "reserved IP address" on my main router to match the static IP address I chose on the range extender. This reduced the connection dropping problem significantly. Now I am dropping the connection about once per hour, vs. 10 times per hour prior to that. UPDATE: yesterday the unit (with a strong signal from the base) was dropping my internet connection about every 3 minutes.

When I was purchasing this product I was confused as to how there could be so many different reviews with people either loving or hating this product. Now I know why. Sometimes the configuration and placement works perfectly (for no good reason other than pure, random luck in the initial setup, router pairing and location of the range extender). Everyone else hates it because there are 100 different things that can go wrong with the setup and there is NO DOCUMENTATION from Cisco-Linksys on how to fix it.

It appears from the reviews that 50% of people who purchase this product are extremely dissatisfied and/or return the product. I cannot believe Cicso is doing nothing to rectify these issues. They could sell a zillion of these things if they actually worked.

STAY AWAY FROM THIS PIECE OF JUNK! Sorry to be so harsh. If someone from Cisco would like to contact me, I'd be happy to tell you all the things that are wrong with this product. Please schedule a few hours for the discussion.

Update: I updated the firmware and the extender still does not work properly. It drops the connection about every 5-6 minutes. The maximum connection time without dropping that I have seen so far is about 16 minutes. This thing is a headache.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 11, 2013 4:05:37 PM PST
First let me say that I am a Network engineer working in the industry for about 26 years so I do understand how things work. I cannot comment on the documentation because I did not need to use it but I can say that this product performs as expected and meets or exceeds my expectations, so much so that I use it almost exclusively now for all my customers that require a repeater (booster) for Wi-Fi. It was so very quick and simple to install and so effective at extending the Wi-Fi range that I am dumfounded when I read this gentlemen's review. I wonder if he had a defective unit or is one of those people that can't follow directions. I normally don't post comments on anything because I am too busy to bother but after reading this review I wanted to make sure it did not deter you from buying this product. Everyone I have installed has worked like a charm. In fact it's so fast and easy that I feel guilty charging my customers for a full service call.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 1, 2013 1:26:16 PM PST
I have a Master degree on Computer Science and I take pride in working on this kind of devices. I've never consider them suitable to regular public and I don't understand how regular people can configure home networks when so much can go wrong. I'm the kind of guy who installed Linux in my good ole WRT54G...

That said, I couldn't agree more with the original poster. The problems he describe match the problems I'm having with this Range Extender to the point (and I have 3 of them). It seems that if they actually work are out of poor random luck. Dropped connections is my main problems. Even walking from room to room causes drops when you switch from Extender to Extender to Router to Extender. It's a nightmare that you can't actually tell what device are you actually connected. It may be good for the regular customer but if you're having problems or want to do some advance configuration... good luck with that.

What puzzles me the most is the fact that you can't make it work as Range Extender and give them a different SSID from the main Router, so you can identify the network you're working with. Even with the old WAP54G working as wireless repeater of the WRT54G you were able to do that. I did and it worked strong for 8-9 years.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2013 2:10:50 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 11, 2013 2:11:01 PM PST]

Posted on Feb 20, 2013 11:12:13 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 20, 2013 11:15:52 AM PST
Strings101 says:
I have a BSEE and MSCS, and more importantly, a decade+ designing and coding the type of EMBEDDED REAL-TIME FIRMWARE that runs INSIDE this device... and then collaborating with Technical Writers so that users know what's going on. Hint.

That said, I agree with the O.P., i.e. while the installation S/W (and written documentation) are the weakest link, there is also unacceptably lame behavior (hangup states) from the embedded firmware. Yes, the dropping of its broadcast SSID following "mating" with the Access Point threw me too, at first (there's that GLARING lack of documentation again), but often the device hangs in a state where it will not communicate even over the ethernet port, ZERO error (or success) messages. The opposite of a robust system. Systems Design 101: Always Return To The Console, aka the only death is HARDWARE death.

In short, that recessed 'hard reset' button should be the RAREST feature ever exercised, instead of a routine part of "setup". Luckily, CISCO's commercial rack-mounted equipment is leagues above this, otherwise, the internet would collapse, lol.

(Note that a huge % of users who rate the RE1000 highly are mating with... CISCO routers/modems/etc... co-inkee-dink? Deliberate corporate policy? Again, it's the glaring dearth of useful/useable feedback from both installation S/W and the web interface inside the F/W that sinks this product.)

Posted on Aug 31, 2014 1:43:40 AM PDT
Ivan says:
Well I have a degree in Political Science, and it worked just fine for me. I ran the disk, then gave it a reserved IP address, and my roku is working in the hot-tub.

Posted on Jun 23, 2015 5:17:57 PM PDT
Wasn't difficult in the video to set up. ?
Wireless Range Extender Setup Guide & Showcase NCIX Tech Tips

Posted on Apr 25, 2016 2:28:20 PM PDT
Roger says:
I'm beginning to understand why Cisco dropped the "extender" product line several years ago....
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