The Linksys RE1000 is a 2.4GHz 802.11n wireless range extender. Until recently a sub-brand of Cisco, Linksys is now owned by Belkin.
The design is rather understated, made out of solid-feeling black and grey plastics.
Sturdy build is good thing as you may have to place your range extender in a prominent place in a room or corridor and the lack of external antennae and blinking lights all help it blend into the background.
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It’s also very compact as its mains plug is fixed to the back of the device, meaning there are no trailing cables either. Sometimes UK mains sockets are on the floor but thankfully Cisco includes an extension power cord which can easily replace the clip-on plug on the back.
The ease with which you can connect to the Linksys RE1000 to network is its strongpoint. If your router has WiFi Protected Setup, simply press the WPS button on both devices and your extender should be added to the network and is ready to go.
Alternatively, for a standard 11n network with WPA2 security, you just plug in the RE1000, insert the setup CD into your computer, type in your network password and all the data is saved to the device wirelessly.
We tested this range extender in different setups and found that its usefulness may depend on what kind of setup you have.
The first tests were conducted inside a building with concrete walls where the signal must travel down a 5 metre concrete corridor and then into a large room. The signal was tested in three locations: firstly at 7 metres in line of sight of the router (as a baseline); secondly at 8 metres where the signal is blocked by several walls and thirdly at 10 metres with even greater obstruction.
The results with no extender in the network were data rates of 87Mbps (7m), 63Mbps (8m) and 32Mbps (10m). This demonstrated that by moving only 3 metres behind obstructions, the data rate dropped 28%; and by 10m had dropped 63%.
When the Linksys RE1000 range extender was introduced to the end of the corridor (still providing a line of sight link) the data rates for the same locations were 45Mbps (7m), 47Mbps (8m), 31Mbps (10m).
So in this installation the range extender actually lowered data rates across the board. This may be due to the overheads for retransmission and the interference between the 2.4GHz devices in close proximity. We then tried a different testing setup over a longer range.
In this installation, the range extender was used to carry the signal between differing floors of the building. The range extender was placed in the stairwell as far away from the router as we could get while maintaining a 4/5 signal (5 metres).
With no range extender the data rates were 24Mbps on floor 1; 1Mbps on floor 2; and no signal on floor 3.
With the Linksys RE1000 the results improved to 37Mbps on floor 1; 11Mbps on floor 2; and 1Mbps on floor 3. This shows that at greater ranges the RE1000 can still extend your network effectively.