Wireless Repeaters - Easy , effective, and fun?
January 24, 2013 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Wireless Repeaters - Easy , effective, and fun?

A friend is staying in the upstairs of a large house where she gets spotty signal from the home wifi to her ipad.

I think a wireless repeater is in order, but it would have to be (near-)zero configuration as there are no techies in the house.

Do repeaters really work? Are they easy to set up?

Are there other user-simple options that I should be considering?
posted by elmonobonobo to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in the same situation, and I bought one of these power line adapters, plugged in the router/modem on one end , and an old wifi router I had on the other end (where I didn't have a great signal previously). It worked out cheaper than buying a brand-new wireless repeater (and less complicated), with the only caveat being that I ended up with a new/different WIFI network in the bedroom.

(Note: I believe you can get some power-line adapters that have built in WiFi at the end, but those are bit more expensive)
posted by blue_beetle at 9:05 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

I bought a repeater and found it was very slow. I prefer the power line adapter approach. Or just run a cable. Or just strengthen the wireless signal using any of the various techniques all over the web.
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:09 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

An Apple Extreme with "Allow this network to be extended" plus some Apple Express's dotted about set to "Extend a Wireless Network" should do the trick, I wonder if the Apple Genius's would be helpful enough to set it all up before they even leave the store.
posted by Static Vagabond at 9:14 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm strongly of the opinion that repeaters offer poor performance and that if swapping out the factory antenna with a stronger, possibly more directional one, (they simply unscrew and scre back in) doesn't result in the performance sought, that running an ethernet cable and plugging in a second access point is the best solution. If she's staying (as in house-sitting) short-term, just use some masking tape to hold the cable down in a few places so she doesn't trip. $5 cable and $50 access point and you're done.
posted by Brian Puccio at 10:27 AM on January 24, 2013

I replaced our main wifi with an Airport Extreme awhile back, and then added an Airport Express to increase coverage on a different floor of the house. The Express automatically (or nearly so) associated with the first AP. I didn't have to do single thing.

I've set them up with non-apple products (a pair of Buffalo wifi APs running DD-WRT) and it wasn't terribly difficult, but it wasn't a plug-and-go process either.

The only downside I hear from folks (though I don't consider it so) is that you do not manage the Apple wireless products with a browser - you need to use a little Apple utility to do all of the setup. It's otherwise a pretty bulletproof setup.
posted by jquinby at 10:56 AM on January 24, 2013

It isn't a matter of opinion, repeaters hurt wireless performance, cutting it by as much as half.

Whether they hurt it enough to matter when using an iPad to browse the web or watch video over a cable or DSL internet connection is another matter. My guess is that it will not, provided they are using a relatively modern 802.11n router, paired with a similarly capable repeater. It will certainly be better than the current situation.

As for what to recommend: If the main wireless router is an Apple product, then the Airport Express is the obvious choice. If it is something else, I am afraid I don't have a suggestion. I tried a Netgear repeater that could work with pretty much any other router. It was pretty easy to set up and seemed to work reasonably well. Other brands make similar products, but Apple to Apple is the only combo that I could be confident recommending to a non-technical audience, and even then, they could have problems.
posted by Good Brain at 1:50 PM on January 24, 2013

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