Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender (EX3700)
The purpose of the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender (model EX3700) is to increase coverage of the wireless signal provided by a wireless router or access point.
How does it work? It connects to your wireless network and creates two new wireless networks, one with 2.4 GHz frequency and one with 5 GHz, so that the devices placed too far from the router can connect to the Netgear Wifi Range Extender instead of directly to the router. Alternatively to creating two networks you can choose to make the AC750 create one network only combining the two frequencies: this way the signal should be more powerful and reach farther compared to having two separate networks.
Let's see how much it works.
A two floor apartment, quite large, a quarter of the upper floor looks on the living room in the lower floor by an indoor balcony closed by glass; the main phone line outlet and the wireless router are in that quarter of the upper floor; at the lower floor the wireless signal is good in about half apartment (the area below the balcony) and very poor in the other half (bedrooms and kitchen): the wireless connection falls quite often.
The preferred solution was to place the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender at the lower floor to make the signal available through the entire apartment.
Refer to my house map in the 3Com OfficeConnect review, a two floor house, 100 square meters per floor, the router is upstairs near an external wall, downstairs all the floor is covered but the signal is quite weak.
Let's see if and how much the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender improves coverage. I didn't test the AC750 thoroughly in this situation because of time but it's interesting to see the result anyway.
- The Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender which incorporates two antennas and a power plug
- a setup CD ROM, which I didn't use
- paper user guide and warranty
If your wireless network was set up automatically, with pretty standard settings and without tweaking the security features, you should get your Netgear AC750 WiFi Range Extender up and working just following the step by step setup manual. If that's not the case and you enhanced your network security hiding the SSID or restricting access, and you want to make things easier or you're not that trustworthy that everything would work at the first try, you may choose to change your wifi settings so that SSID broadcast is enabled and MAC address filter or ACL is disabled (see your router manual if you don't remember how to do it); this is not necessary according to the user guide but I had some problems making the AC750 detect my hidden and access controlled network, so I chose the easiest way to temporarily unhide it and disable access control.
The setup process is like this:
- plug the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender in a AC outlet not too far from your wireless router (it's just for the setup process, then you should move it about midway between the router and the farthest place you would like the wireless signal to reach), switch it on and wait for the power and router leds to stay on and green (the router led changes color based on the strength -green- or weakness -amber and red- of the wireless signal it receives from the router)
- on a wireless device scan the wireless networks and connect to NETGEAR-EXT (the setup open network provided by the AC750)
- surf to www.mywifiext.net: it's not an internet website, it's the AC750 webpage configuration url
- here you should create a login
- in the next page the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender will show the wireless networks it has found: select yours; if your network SSID is not broadcasted you have to enter your hidden SSID; then enter the WPA or WEP password
- the setup page will ask if you want to create a 2.4 GHz network and/or a 5 GHz network
- on a wireless device scan the wireless networks: you should see two new networks with a name beginning as your own network's name and a suffix _2GEXT or _5GEXT (these names can be changed), connect your device to one of them and check if you can surf the web and see your LAN resources, but don't close the setup web page yet
- if everything works, press Next on the setup web page to log in the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender settings and check in that page that your wireless device is listed
- the setup process is complete, now you can switch off the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender and move it to the desired place; switch it on and check that everything works again; advanced users, don't close the setup web page yet
- If you want to enable the MAC address filter, you should add to your router MAC address client list the two Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender Virtual MAC addresses and the virtual MAC addresses of all your wireless devices connected to the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender; you can see them in the setup web page, which you haven't closed yet, right? If you did, login again.
- You can disable the SSID broadcast on your router; but the AC750 will broadcast the two new networks SSIDs, unless in the settings page you disable SSID broadcasting for them too; keep in mind that you may have to reconfigure and reconnect the wireless clients (I had to on two Android phones, even if the two networks were already saved when they were broadcasting the SSID)
- With your devices connected to one of the two extended networks, you can view them in the settings page and configure access control for that network
- To move the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender to another wireless LAN you may have to do a factory reset (pressing the factory reset micro button with a needle or a pointed pencil) to clear all the settings, or change the settings connecting a LAN cable to a device with a browser to be able to surf the AC750 configuration web page.
- WPS button: its purpose is to connect the AC750 to your wireless network without entering the network name and password; if your router has an analog WPS button or feature and the network SSID broadcast is enabled, press the WPS button on the router and then the WPS button on the Netgear AC750 Wifi Extender: they should connect automatically; then connect your devices to the new extended networks. This is from the user guide, I didn't try it.
- You can also connect the Netgear AC750 Wifi Extender to a router plugging an ethernet cable (not included in the package) into the LAN port: this way the AC750 creates a wifi hotspot which can be configured in the www.mywifiext.net pages, clicking the Access point button. This is from the user guide, I didn't try it.
- The LAN port can also be used to connect a wired device to the Wifi Extender to bring it in the LAN, meaning you can use the AC750 to bring wireless capability to a device missing it.
Positioning the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender in the room below the balcony, the router led stays green, meaning the signal from the router is good, and the signal in the farthest room, with three walls in between, has improved just a bit, with the amber device LED indicating the signal received by the client device is weak.
Moving the AC750 to the next room (no doors), just two meters farther, the router LED stays green and the signal in the farthest room improved a little more, with the device LED still amber.
Moving the AC750 to the opposite side of the same room, three meters towards the critical room, the router LED becomes amber: there's a terrace above the ceiling which the waves cannot pass through, and the position is too far to get the waves coming down through the indoor balcony.
What does it mean? If the signal is weak because waves are blocked by walls, a wifi range extender could improve the signal but don't expect miracles, unless you can "play billiard" with the waves around the walls. Besides, surfing the web in the farthest room was nearly impossible; the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extended made it possible now, it's not very fast because the signal is weak but it works where it didn't before.
With the router in room A upstairs, the signal in room h downstairs with a notebook connected to the router wireless LAN is 60-66%. With the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender placed in room D upstairs, near the stairs, in room h downstairs with a notebook connected to the AC750 extended wireless LAN the signal is 100%.
Upstairs router and AC750 positions
Downstairs wireless signal when connected to the router is 60-66%, to the AC750 extended network is 100%
Not many obstacles, the potentiality of the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender is fully exploited.
- During my test the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender heated a lot, but the ambient temperature was 30°C; even if nowadays it's quite normal for some eletronic devices to become very hot, my advice is to keep it powered on only when you plan to use it, I mean if you're going out there's no reason to waste power and reduce durability.
- With a very old notebook connecting with a wireless PCCard used in the 3Com OfficeConnect review (I know, it's nearly vintage), the connection to the extended networks was very unstable, switching continuously between channel 2 and 6 even with signal at 100%; just something to consider -compatibility- if you have a very old device.
Configuration is simple, features are market compliant (WPA, 5 GHz, Access control).
I would say the Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender does what it promises, within the limits of what can be expected from waves and obstacles; the aim for me was to strengthen the signal in situation #2 and increase the area covered by the wireless signal in situation #1: it just did both.