Western Digital continues to make its mark into the consumer networking hardware space with the My Net Wi-Fi Range Extender ($106.25, street). This small box is designed to extend a wireless network's signal to those notorious "dead zones." The My Net Extender is an attractive device, with unique signal strength indicators to help you place it in an optimal location. Plus, it is easy to set up and does a good job of extending Wi-Fi.
Specs and Design
The My Net extender is quite small measuring 5.2" x 2.0" x 6.0 "(HWD). It's meant to operate upright on a stand attached to its base. I find its form factor more preferable over extenders that connect right into a power outlet, such as the Cisco Linksys Wireless-N Range/Extender Bridge (RE10000)
because it's easier to place the extender in different locations to get the best connection with a router.
Western Digital's device is a dual-band range extender, able to extend either a 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz wireless network. This dual-band capability gives it an advantage over many other extenders on the market, which tend to only support the 2.4 GHz band. A word of caution about extending 5 GHz Wi-Fi: the 5 GHz band is not great at sustaining throughput over long distances. Better to use the 2.4 GHz band for larger coverage areas. Using even a dual-band extender like the My Net on 2.4 GHz is more beneficial for longer-distance coverage than the 5 GHz band. Still, it's nice that you have the option of working with either band. This extender supports 802.11n and will also work with legacy 802.11x routers.
The rear panel has a power button, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) button for connecting to a WPS-supported router, and a toggle switch to operate the extender in either 2.4 or 5 GHz mode. On the front of the device are two LEDs; one for power and the other for wireless status which lights once the extender is successfully connected to a router.
On the side of the device is a unique feature:? 18 LEDs that indicate signal strength. The more LEDs lit, the stronger the signal. The double row of small blue lights not only looks attractive, but provides important information; as you position the extender in proximity to the router it's paired with, you can keep an eye on these LEDs to see if the signal strength drops or increases.
With the My Net extender about 30 feet away from my router, I saw 12 LEDs lit up. Moving the extender about another 15 feet closer to the router lit all 18 LEDs. The LEDs provide a handy, quick way to position the extender in the best location without having to fire up some software utility.
The extender ships with a quick install guide and setup is indeed, quick. In fact, you can get the extender set up in only three steps. Plug it in; push the WPS button on the extender and on the router you want to connect it with; and place it in the best location using the LED signal strength indicators.
I set up the extender with Western Digital's My Net N900 router. The three steps worked perfectly. In seconds, I had the N900's wireless network extended.
Of course, a wireless extender should work with just about any router. I tested connecting via WPS to a Linksys WRT160N router.? However, the two devices would not pair using WPS. I was able to get the My Net extender connected to the Linksys router by connecting an Ethernet cable to the extender and going into the extender's web-based management interface. Connecting to the extender requires a settings change that takes a lengthy 180 seconds but otherwise, there was no issue getting the extender connected to the Linksys router using the software.
The My Net offered impressive performance on par with the excellent Cisco Linksys RE1000 extender. In the same room as the router, the My Net extender gave the fastest throughput to date, at 34 Mbps. Moving 75 feet away from the router, that throughput dropped to 4 Mbps, considerably slower. Still, 4 Mbps was enough to browse the web and is frankly, impressive in my testing environment which has heavy RF interference from many access points in proximity and lots of glass and concrete. The RE1000 did a tad better at 75 feet at 6 Mbps?not much of a difference to impact web browsing.
By the time I reached a distance of 100 feet away from the router, the My Net extender, as with the RE1000, could no longer register throughput on the Ixia IxChariot utility I use to test. I was able to surf the Internet though without too much lag. By the time I reached 150 feet, I was still connected to the Wi-Fi network, but surfing was so slow that browsing became pretty frustrating.
Below is a performance chart comparing several wireless extenders to the My Net. While you can see that BearExtender's device still registered throughput beyond using the IxChariot utility at 100 feet away from the router, only the RE1000 and the My Net actually allowed decent web browsing at that distance.
The My Net RE1000 has a very easy setup, works with older routers, and allowed me to browse the web up 150 feet away from my router. It tested with slightly slower throughput than the RE1000, but it allows for more flexible positioning than the RE1000?because the device is stand-alone and not connected directly into an electric socket.
While the RE1000 is an Editors' Choice for wireless extenders because of it's negligibly faster throughput, the My Net Wi-Fi extender is a worthy alternative with the bonus of those LEDs for checking signal strength as you test where best to place the device.? The My Net Extender is an easy 4 out of 5 star earner for wireless extenders/bridges.
More Wireless Networking Reviews:
??? My Net Wi-Fi Range Extender
??? Meraki MR16 Cloud Managed Wireless Access Point
??? Kanex mySpot
??? Western Digital My Net AC Bridge
??? Wi-Fi Finder (for iPad)