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This Little Gadget Has Been My Best Lockdown Purchase By a Mile

My home Wi-Fi sucked.

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When the coronavirus pandemic began to hit in earnest and I found myself working remotely using my parents’ home Wi-Fi for the foreseeable future, the inconsistencies of their network came into stark relief. With the stock modem and router setup that comes with their Verizon Fios subscription, Wi-Fi can only blanket half of the three-story house, on a good day. The room serving as my makeshift office, as far away from the router as it could possibly be, didn’t get Wi-Fi. Like, at all.

Short of investing in a full mesh system or expensive new router (maybe for Christmas), I knew that a Wi-Fi extender was the best solution for me. I settled on the TP-Link AC1750 because it checked my three boxes. 1. It was well-reviewed. 2. It was made by a trusted brand. 3. And it was less than $100.

A month later, and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. I was able to set up the TP-Link AC1750 in about fifteen minutes — the setup process required me to download an app, log into the home Wi-Fi and then place the Wi-Fi extender halfway between the router and the Wi-Fi dead spot I wanted to be solved — and since then I haven’t had to touch it. I was able to share the password with my brother and parents and now there’s no place in our house where the Wi-Fi sucks. The previous dead zone now gets as good of a signal as if it were adjacent to the router.

Of course there’s no Wi-Fi extender, including the TP-Link AC1750, that can improve on the preexisting speed of your home’s Wi-Fi, it just extends it. So if the Wi-Fi is terrible right next to your router as well as all over your house, the Wi-Fi extender is merely going to spread that pain a little further, which isn’t going to be much help for you. Fortunately, parent’s Fios connection does not have that problem.

The one issue I have with the TP-Link AC1750 is admittedly a minor one. Unlike a mesh router system, a Wi-Fi extender creates a separate Wi-Fi network from the one created by your router, and as you move from one area of the house to another, your device is supposed to automatically detect which network’s signal is stronger and then connect to the better one. For example, if I’m on the first floor (next to the router) and move to the third floor (next to the Wi-Fi extender), my iPhone or laptop will stay connected to the router’s signal. It doesn’t happen all the time and it’s a simple fix — I’ll just have to switch networks via Wi-Fi Settings on the device — but it can be annoying.

The great thing about the TP-Link AC1750 is that it has easily doubled the amount of space from which I can work, which now extends all the way upstairs and even outside. And there’s no subscription or monthly fee. It’s been by far my best purchase in the past three months. That, or the weekly beer order.

Buy Now: $100 $80 (Amazon)

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