Netgear X4 combines wireless bands for better performance

Netgear's new X4 range extender plugs nicely into the power outlet. It has two arrow-shaped LEDs to help you find the best spot for the extender. One points to the client while the other points to the router.
Netgear's new X4 range extender plugs nicely into the power outlet. It has two arrow-shaped LEDs to help you find the best spot for the extender. One points to the client while the other points to the router.PHOTO: NETGEAR

Netgear's new X4 range extender plugs handily into the power outlet. It is larger than the Linksys RE7000 extender, with a white angular chassis.

A physical switch lets you toggle easily between wireless extender mode and access point mode. With the latter, the X4 connects to the router using an Ethernet cable, via the X4's single Gigabit port.

To help you find the best spot for the extender, the X4 has two arrow-shaped LEDs. One points to the client while the other points to the router.

If neither of these LEDs is lit, the extender is in an ideal spot. If the client LED blinks, move the extender closer to the client.

A blinking router LED means you should move the extender towards the router.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $299

    STANDARDS: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

    ETHERNET PORTS: 1 x Gigabit


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/ 5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

You can set up the X4 using Wi-Fi Protected Setup or through its Web-based interface. For the Web option, you need to first create a free account with an e-mail address and password.

The Web interface can be used to search for new firmware updates. However, this feature took so long during my testing that I lost my patience and cancelled it.

From the settings page, you can also block client devices from accessing the Internet via the extender. This can be used as a form of parental controls, to block access during certain periods, or to blacklist certain websites.

While this feature seems interesting, it does not prevent someone from connecting to the main router, unless the same restrictions had also been implemented on the router.

Netgear says that the X4 comes with FastLane technology, which seems to be similar to the ExpressWay feature on the Asus RP-AC68U.

This feature uses both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz wireless bands to improve the extender's performance or range.

I can see it being used in larger homes where the extra range offered by the 2.4GHz band is handy.

In my performance test, the X4 came in between the Asus and the Linksys. It had a signal strength of 64 per cent and clocked an average data transfer speed of 15Mbps.

At $299, Netgear is asking a hefty price for a wireless extender. You can certainly buy an above-average router at this price.

Even though the X4 supports the advanced MU-MIMO feature that lets it transmit data to multiple clients simultaneously, I would not pay this much for an extender.

Vincent Chang

•Verdict: The features and performance of this wireless extender do not justify its high price.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2016, with the headline 'Netgear X4 combines wireless bands for better performance'. Print Edition | Subscribe