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Stretch your Wi-Fi and your dollar with this wireless extender

The D-Link AC2600 gives impressive performance and has a relatively cheap price of $189.
The D-Link AC2600 gives impressive performance and has a relatively cheap price of $189. PHOTO: D-LINK

The D-Link AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender (DAP-1860) helps to plug the gaps in your home's Wi-Fi coverage, by rebroadcasting the wireless signal from your home router to areas where the Wi-Fi coverage is lacking.

It looks like a chunky power adaptor, albeit in glossy white. To use it, unfurl its four adjustable antennas and plug it into a wall outlet roughly midway between your router and the area where the Wi-Fi signal is weak.

It takes a bit of trial and error to find the right location for the extender. At the front of the device is a three-bar yellow LED indicator. You want as many lit bars as possible.

In my house, I found it ideal to place the extender in a hallway outside the bedrooms where Wi-Fi coverage is spotty, especially when the room doors are closed.

D-Link offers users three ways of pairing the extender with your home router. The easiest method is to use Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), in which you press the WPS button on the extender, followed shortly by the WPS button on the router. You can also set up the extender using a smartphone via the QRS Mobile app (available for iOS and Android), though first you have to manually connect your phone to the extender's Wi-Fi network.

The third method, which I prefer, is to access the extender settings using a computer browser. Compared to the basic and dated mobile app, the browser-based user interface is sleek, user-friendly and has some extra features like a network traffic log.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $189

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

    ETHERNET PORTS: 1 x Gigabit

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The DAP-1860 supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless bands. With speeds of up to 1,733MHz for the 5GHz band and up to 800MHz for the 2.4GHz band, this extender provides the highest combined wireless throughput in the market.

Another feature that may not be utilised fully by clients is Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output, which lets the extender send data to multiple devices if they, too, support the technology.

Unlike other extenders which display separate 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless bands, the DAP-1860 shows only a single network thanks to its Smart Connect feature. The extender automatically assigns clients to the appropriate wireless bands. This helps to reduce confusion among users, who may be unsure about the differences between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

The extender's Wi-Fi signal strength in my bedroom was rated at 93 per cent by the Netgear Wi-Fi Analytics app, compared to my home router's signal strength of 40 per cent. My Internet connection became much more reliable and less spotty with the extender.

In a data transfer speed test, the DAP-1860 achieved an average speed of 23Mbps, which is the fastest result among the extenders I have tested this year.

This impressive performance is allied to a relatively cheap $189 asking price, which makes the DAP- 1860 easy to recommend for anyone who needs a quick Wi-Fi fix.

  • Verdict: This D-Link wireless extender provides great value and performance.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2016, with the headline 'Stretch your Wi-Fi and your dollar with this wireless extender'. Print Edition | Subscribe