Hands-on review D-Link DAP-1860 AC2600 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Range Extender
With more and more of our devices connecting to our home network via Wi-Fi, good network coverage throughout your home is essential. Until recently, having reasonable Wi-Fi in the lounge was all you really needed, but now modern families expect to be able to stream Netflix from every little nook and cranny in the house.
Houses in New Zealand tend to be longer than they are high, unlike our European cousins. A wireless router at one end of the house is not necessarily going to serve you well at the other end. Also, what if you want to stream music to the bottom of the garden, or your new Wi-Fi enabled Samsung washing machine in the utility room wants to advise you that it is done.
This is where a D-Link AC2600 MU-MIMO Range Extender comes in handy. The device acts at a go-between from your wireless router to your remote Wi-Fi-hungry device. Using MU-MIMO (multi-user- multi-input, multi-output) technology, you Wi-Fi signal is relayed from your router to your device without having to sacrifice bandwidth/speed, unlike range extenders of the past.
The range extender is set-up either automatically by pressing the WPS button on your router and the WPS on the extender, or via a direct Wi-Fi connection to the extender using the details supplied. Either way, the set-up is pretty easy.
Once the range extender is connected to your wireless network, it sets itself up as a new wireless access point, with a name that appends “-EXT” to your existing Wi-Fi network name. The Wi-Fi password is the same as your router.
The extender plugs directly into a power socket. This means that you are going to needs to find an out of the way socket about halfway between the extended range that you want. Whilst the device is about as nice-looking as it can be, it's not particularly attractive and some may find it's rather large size a bit unsightly.
From a practical point of view, though, if you can find a discreet location for it, it's a pretty good bit of kit. There's even a gigabit network port for plugging in another device into your network.
I was able to extend the serviceable range of my 5.7Ghz Wi-Fi network by about 25m using the extender. Longitudinally, I got about about 100m of 600-800Mbps wireless coverage, including my router. You could go further, but the signal starts to drop off rapidly. At 2.4Ghz, I could go out to 35m still achieving 100Mbps.
There are, of course, many factors in play when it comes to wireless networking, building layout and construction materials may obstruct Wi-Fi signals. With extenders, you should always aim for a decent line-of-sight to your router, where you can. The extender can also any extend the wireless network to the maximum speed of your existing network. If your current wireless router is a bit old, you might want to consider replacing that first, before considering a ranger extender.
It's also worth noting that the extender is only able to increase your wireless networking coverage longitudinally. If your router is in the centre of your house, it won't increase coverage for you radially. D-Link has another product for that, their Covr system, which I will be reviewing for you very shortly.
The D-Link DAP-1860 AC2600 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Range Extender is an easy to install way of increasing your wireless network range through your house. It is a large device and does need to plug directly into a socket, which is a bit awkward. But it does its job, providing fast, wireless network/internet to the wireless blackspots in your house without having to drill holes and route network cable around your house.
DAP-1860 AC2600 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Range Extender is available now for around NZ$300.