(Pocket-lint) - This is a review for Sky customers, as the Sky Wireless Booster is a new product in the company's arsenal. If you already have a Sky Broadband router in your home then, let us guess, its wireless power doesn't quite reach everywhere?
In the UK, with our thick walls and interference from neighbours, it's a common problem. There are a number of ways, of course, to solve the problem. Whether placing your router in a better place, buying a PowerLine extender, or upgrading the router beyond the stock one provided altogether.
Sky is hoping to solve this problem with its Wireless Booster - a new dongle that allows you to extend the reach of the wireless signal around the home. It's a free upgrade, so seems like a no brainer, but one so popular that it's out of stock for many months. Is it worth waiting for, does it work, is it easy to setup, and should you bother at all?
The Sky Wireless Booster is essentially a box. A small box at that, one about the same size as, say, the Apple TV or Roku set top boxes that you can bury in a corner somewhere as long as you've got a plug.
Sadly the plug isn't built into the design of the Wireless Booster so you'll need to put it on a shelf or behind something to cover up the jangle of wires you're left with. We think Sky have missed a huge trick here. Like the Apple Airport Express or the PowerLine products already offering a way to extend your wireless network we want to be able to just plug this in and not worry about all the dangling cables that go with it.
Forgetting that wish for a moment, at least the box doesn't want to over complicate or burden you with information. It features two lights on the front: one is a power indicator, the other indicates wireless network connectivity. For quick connectivity to your current router there is also a WPS button.
Around the back is the power socket and an Ethernet cable for manual setup, but we didn't need to use the hard line option in our particular setup.
We like simple setups and the Wireless Booster puts a tick in the box on this front. Simply plug it in near to your router, turn it on, press the WPS button on your current Sky Broadband router, press the WPS button on your the new wireless booster and wait for a couple of seconds. That's it - all done.
You can then unplug the Wireless Booster and place it in any room in your house you like - as long as it is still in range of your router. If you go too far the wireless light indicator flashes white to let you know you are on the outskirts of where a signal can be provided.
Because of the easy setup process you don't have to do anything to reconnect, the box does it automatically.
The ultimate question: does it work? The answer is a resounding yes as suddenly you will have internet in a room you didn't before. It really is that simple. The speeds are akin to what you are already experiencing, however Sky says that you will see a drop in speeds when you are closer to the original router. We didn't notice anything ourselves in testing, but with a fairly slow line of 6MB the internet is always so-so in our house.
What's also worth pointing out is because the Sky Broadband router still doesn't support 802.11ac for the very fastest wireless speeds, adding the Wireless Booster doesn't bring that to your network. It's still only 802.11n.
That's still fast enough, just not the fastest currently available. If you want to benefit from the faster speeds you'll have to upgrade your entire system rather than just adding an extender.
The Sky Wireless Booster is a free add-on for Sky customers for a limited period of time. Demand outstripped supply so there's now a wait for the next batch of product to arrive. It's a no brainer to order when you can because it's a worthwhile upgrade that genuinely makes a difference to wireless range. Very handy if you want to make the most of a streaming music service or Netflix in the bath.
However, if you want to go faster still then it would be worth looking to upgrade your router altogether. If the Wireless Booster was ever to become a pay-for bit of hardware then money may well be better spent with another solution that already exists in the market. Certainly something to bear in mind.