As our homes become filled with wireless devices the need for strong signal in all areas rises. To help us in those situations manufacturers of routers often release products which extend the main router signal to other areas of our home or office, maybe even the garden. Today we take a look at the Netgear, their latest Extender which is designed to boost our 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks for those using B, G, N and AC Wi-Fi.
The Netgear EX6200 arrives in a box which gives us a nice clear image of the extender on the front. We also get some key feature information on that side with more detailed specifications around the other faces. Inside the box we find the EX6200 suspended in cardboard with documentation on top and our bundled items beneath. Those bundled items are a stand to hold the Netgear EX6200 in a vertical orientation and a compact PSU.
The Netgear EX6200
Shown above we have the top surface of the Netgear EX6200 and as with a number of their products we get perforated/triangular section which promotes airflow around the internal components. A red trim runs along the front edge and we get a selection of status LEDs between it and the perforated sections. just hidden from view in the image above is a single USB 3.0 connector.
For specifications we have 1200Mbps max speed, 700mW amplified high power design for maximum range and an 800MHz dual core ARM A9 CPU inside to power our extender. In terms of dimensions the Netgear EX6200 is 252x174x31mm and it weighs 302g.
Flipping the Netgear EX6200 over we find that the “base” is a red panel and interestingly the little red tab on its edge pulls out to reveal our admin password and other product info. Two large 5dBi antenna are connected for us at the factory and sitting beside their ports are power input, power/reset buttons, five GB LAN ports and a WPS connection button.
Setting up the Netgear EX6200 is a fairly simple process. We can hit the WPS button on our router and the extender to have them auto configure or we can connect manually, which on Windows 8 then forces the setup wizard to launch in our browser. From there we simply select the network to extend (2.4GHz and 5GHz) and enter our security details. Netgear allow us to rename our extended network and have alternate password but really default will be fine for most people. After those steps the extender reboots and we are good to go, as the status screen above shows.
The above status screen is access through admin mode on the router, something few will ever need to access, but if you do the above screens show the options available. We can for example configure USB sharing (including printers and media) along with changing the modes of the extension (including combining two bands to one for max speed) and even check for and update firmware. Also worth keeping in mind is that you can keep up to date with firmware/software updates for the Netgear EX6200, or any of their products, through the main support site here.
User Experience and Conclusion
Looking first at the design of the Netgear EX6200 we have a stylish looking product which will fit in nicely with their other products, such as the D6200 series router. That said, it could maybe do with being a touch smaller in size but that is a very minor issue. The inclusion of a front USB port, and the fact it is 3.0 spec, means we can easily connect other devices and having five GB LAN ports should be more than enough for most locations. For example we might want to extend our signal in a games room, so we could connect our PlayStation and Xbox via LAN for maximum speed to the router and still have ports free for a smart TV, PC etc. Build quality of the Netgear EX6200 is also good. It feels sturdy and we noted no issues with the finish… in fact Netgear seem determined to have it arrive in pristine condition such is the amount of protective material applied at the factory. Our only minor criticism of the EX6200 when unboxing is the lack of LAN cable, it would be nice to have one in the box… even if this device is aimed at Wi-Fi use.
Setup of the Netgear EX6200 is also a very simple process, extremely so in WPS mode but even the manual setup is pretty much idiot proof. We choose a network, enter our password and are pretty much good to go. Advanced users can delve a little deeper too if needed which is a nice bonus and should it all go horribly wrong we can easily use the factory reset button on the back. It is worth keeping in mind that we don’t need a Netgear router to use the Netgear EX6200, this device works with all brands of network equipment.
The device currently retails for around £90/$130 and in terms of performance we had no issues with that aspect of the Netgear EX6200 extender. It provided a strong signal in areas where our router would start to drop off and easily provided speeds which matched our NAS drive transfer limits as well as the broadband internet connection. Essentially other aspects of our setup are likely to be the limitation and not the EX6200. Well worthy of our recommended award.