Netgear WN3500RP Dual Band Wi-Fi Range Extender
AirPlay; DLNA; Ethernet; dual-band Wi-Fi extender
No digital output
If your microwave oven cripples your 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network then 5GHz is a wise investment. This Netgear is a dual-band Wi-Fi extender, helping both your 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks reach the far corners of your home.
The Netgear generates two new networks, using the same names as your current networks but adding ‘_2GEXT’ and ‘_5GEXT’. Netgear recommends only connecting to the extended networks when you can’t get adequate coverage from your primary networks – but regularly switching between them can become a hassle.
There’s also an Ethernet port for connecting devices like internet-enabled home entertainment gear, which may not support Wi-Fi. You can’t use this Ethernet port to plug the Netgear directly into your broadband modem/router to create a Wi-Fi network, you can only extend an existing Wi-Fi network.
The Netgear features a 3.5mm AUX jack for connecting to powered speakers, but not a digital audio output. It’s designed to support blended households – offering AirPlay stream to iGadget owners and DLNA streaming to others. It supports multi-room audio via AirPlay and our music stayed in sync when streaming from iTunes on a Mac to two Netgear extenders, but not when we used a mix of Netgear and Apple extenders.
You’ll also find a USB port on the Netgear for connecting up a printer, with AirPrint support, so you can print from your iGadgets. There’s no support for attaching a USB hard drive to share on your home network.
Unfortunately, the Netgear is a bulky unit that can make it impractical for some tight spaces, even if you use the optional short power cable rather than hanging it directly from a power socket.
A Wi-Fi booster that extends two networks simultaneously, the Netgear offers a step up in reliability.