Being able to connect to the Internet wirelessly with a variety of devices is a beautiful thing, in my opinion. However, perhaps nothing is more frustrating than wanting to connect and not having a strong enough signal to do so. That is a common occurrence for me when I venture too far from my wireless router at home. Due to some short-sightedness on the part of my building’s developers, my condo is wired in such a way that the cable comes into the lower level of my duplex. Since it is a serial connection, where the signal drops off the further it gets from the source, this means that I have the strongest cable strength downstairs. Therefore, that is where I have installed my cable modem and wireless router. I have a perfectly strong Wi-Fi signal throughout my basement and upstairs directly above the wireless router. However, as you head toward the back of my condo and onto the back deck, it is a Wi-Fi dead zone. In order to enjoy the beautiful Chicago afternoons and evenings on my deck, and get a little work done, I have had to resort to using a Verizon Wi-Fi hotspot in order to get a signal. It’s a functional option, but I prefer to save my data usage for when I am truly disconnected from the world.
I hoped my prayers were answered when I was given a BearExtender PC Wi-Fi USB receiver that promises to extend the range of existing Wi-Fi products by up to four times.
While I reviewed the BearExtender PC model, there is also a Mac version. Installation was a breeze. The BearExtender comes with an installation CD with the necessary drivers for XP, Vista and Windows 7. Once you have installed the drivers, you plug the BearExtender into a USB port on your computer, and you are ready to go. It’s somewhat ironic that this Wi-Fi extender requires a USB connection to your PC, but this is a small price to pay for its performance.
As soon as I received my BearExtender, I knew its true test would be whether it could coax my Wi-Fi signal from my basement out to my deck. On a good day, depending on atmospheric conditions, I am able to get an intermittent signal outside with the standard Wi-Fi adapter on my Dell Studio laptop. After disabling my laptop’s adapter and connecting the BearExtender PC, I was able to achieve 75% to 80% signal strength. For me, that was proof enough of the value of the BearExtender PC.
The BearExtender PC is perfect for those looking to extend the range of their wireless network without breaking the bank. The USB connection seems a little low-tech, but you can’t argue with the performance—it just works.
BearExtender PC Wi-Fi USB Receiver
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.