Setup and Performance
You have two options when setting up the N300 with your wireless. You can setup your wireless by connecting to it using the provided Ethernet cable or you can use WPS. WPS is by far the better of the two options for various reasons including being much easier. But it also has the side effect of working better with your router by sharing the same access point name even. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get WPS to work at all with our Netgear router. This left us with the only other option where we had to plug our laptop in via Ethernet and configure everything. This was actually much easier than I expected when it was all said and done.
When you log in it actually even gives you the default username and password, because of this it will be important to change the password later on for obvious security reasons.
The opening screen gave me the two wireless networks that the N300 picked up along with their channel, encryption, and signal strength. You can also manually enter all of this if you would like or if your SSID doesn’t come up.
Once you select the wireless network you would like to use and enter your password it will start a connection test to confirm that everything is setup correctly.
Once everything is setup you can take the N300 and plug it in towards the end of your wireless network’s range. Using the lights on the front you can check the signal strength without having to hook a pc up to it at all.
To put the extender to the test I ran speed tests over our normal wireless and then over the extenders wireless. Along with this I also tested our now extended network. First and most importantly can we pick up our net network in the bathroom and in the back yard? Yes we now have coverage all the way across our back yard and in the bathroom, perfect for getting work done while enjoying nice days.
Testing the performance did bring up an issue that we didn’t expect. When the N300 is running the overall network speed over wireless in the house drops from 50 down 5 up to 16 down 5 up. This seemsto be a compatibility issue with our Netgear N600 WNDR3700, firmware on both devices are up to date. Even though this is a major issue, the speeds I experienced are still more than enough for me to get my work done from the back yard. It is still an improvement over no internet at all, and for those with a typical roadrunner or roadrunner turbo connection you will never notice the slowdown. It only became an issue when using a much faster connection.
Last but not least, we took a look at the interface now that everything is setup. You actually have a lot of options for such a small device. While poking around I was shocked to find options for DHCP for example. This could come in handy while traveling; you can actually turn this extender into a small router to share a single internet connection from a phone or even hotel wireless. Even with the speed issues, I would still seriously consider packing this device for CES where you have to pay PER device connected in some hotels.