Pros: Supports 5.4 GHz band, When it works: Easy installation & transparent use
Cons: Stability issues, Customer support
Linksys released end of 2012 somewhat quietly the successor of 2.4 GHz only Linksys RE1000 wireless-N extender. Since WiFi --and that includes Wireless N-- still has physical limitations, the need for an extender is virtually unchanged for 'large homes' with over 2500 sqft (230 m2), especially when the router is in one corner of the house and the computer in the diagonally opposite corner.
Upgrading RE1000 to RE2000.
While you can read more in detail about the original motivations for an extender (Linksys RE1000) to begin with, I'll focus on the motivations to upgrade to the RE2000. With the house and overall layout unchanged (roughly 17 yd (15.5 m) direct line between the router and the computer; interrupted by typical stick-build construction) I was hoping for two things ...
1) Improved stability due to the newer revision (chipset, antenna etc.)
2) Concurrent amplification of 2.4 GHz and 5.4 GHz
In general the RE2000 is practically identical to the Linksys RE1000 in terms of design, size and installation options. Hence, it still eliminates any wiring concerns as all it needs is an outlet somewhere between the original router and the target area.
Regarding simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5.4 Ghz it should be noted that these expectations were unfounded, albeit slightly nurtured by the vague description provided on-line for the RE2000. The physical package (which was not visible on-line), however, makes it clear that the RE2000 can only be operated in 2.4 GHz or 5.4 GHz mode.
So all my hopes rested on the new internals to provide a more more stable signal and hopefully eliminate the Diva known from the RE1000.
RE2000 to the rescue!??
It should be noted that the interaction of Router and Extender drives a system performance and reliability which is very difficult to separate. While I ended up de-activating the RE2000 after a few weeks of service, one replacement and several attempts to debug the extender, it's not completely impossible that the problems lie with the router (Linksys EA4500) and not the extender, but at the same time, many of the problems were new and not existent with the Linksys RE1000. The problems might lie with the Linksys EA4500 router, but at this point I am tired of troubleshooting and slow to send a lot of stuff back and forth.
Design: [****-] The RE2000 is virtually identical to the Linksys RE1000. It's also designed to be placed anywhere and ultimately not to take center stage. I think Linksys achieved just that. However, the coolest feature (the white status light in the shape of the Cisco logo) fell victim to a possible cost reduction motivated decision to provide a green LED bar instead. In the end a cleaner design, but without the wow-factor. The black housing is fairly nondescript and 'blends' in. Of course that's relative as it's certainly not invisible.
Setup: [****-] The idea is the same as with the Linksys RE1000 and should generally be extremely easy to install. Simply unpack and plug into an outlet near the router (within same room). The next step requires a computer (laptop or desktop) which is already connected to the network (logged in). It's not important if per Ethernet or Wireless. The included software can also be downloaded from the Linksys site when needed later. It's a one-click-affair as it works with your existing settings to (1) find the RE1000 and (2) configure it to be basically invisible to the user. No user entry is necessary!
HOWEVER: [*----] After a first installation that went just the way as described, I was unable to ever repeat this as the wizard kept failing with an undefined error. After one week I sent it back and re-employed my Linksys RE1000. Once the replacement arrived, it turned out to be just as stubborn to co-operate with the wizard. It's easy enough to directly connect to the extender as it's listed in your available network. Then open a browser and type in "192.168.1.1" to access the integrated menu of the RE2000. In the Network menu, simply select the network you want to connect to and it's all done as the computer will automatically reconnect to your original network (router). New is that the RE2000 also finds 5.4 GHz networks and can select one of those. That's the only way to get around the wizard failing the installation process.
That being easy enough, the problems didn't stop there though and while the router now frequently acted up by not being responsive on the 2.4 GHz and essentially bringing the whole network down on that band. Unfortunately connecting to the 5.4 GHz wasn't an option as neither printer nor my computer's wireless card support that. (Oddly enough all my Apple products like iPhone, iPad, and AppleTV do, but that's not what I needed the extender for anyway.)
The odd part is that my router (Linksys EA4500) seemingly decided to produce a stronger signal (without any obvious changes) and now registered 4 bars on my desktop which previously was one or two with an abysmal transfer rate. So ... the RE2000 went in retirement (awaiting firmware updates or similar fixes), while the Linksys EA4500 seems to be happy to serve even the remote corner of the house (for now at least).
Flexibility: [*****] Given that it's wireless, one great feature is actually that one can change location of the Linksys RE1000 & RE2000 without having to redo any programming or wiring. All it needs is a free power outlet (preferably mounted to the wall). Need it in a different room? It's easy to experiment with different locations.
Performance: [***--] I must admit that I did hope for performance gains simply by virtue of new hardware doing something. However, that's probably un-warranted and in actually use there was no noticeable difference in speed to the Linksys RE1000. As mentioned before, with the direct connection to the router (Linksys EA4500) working now, the same speed is available on average from the source. However, there are peaks of 45 Mbps (well beyond the provider's rated speed), which may suggest potentially higher speeds without the extender. (Duh!?)
Cost: [***--] The RE2000 is new and somewhat hard to find. The MSRP of $90 and the street price of $80 are therefore more expensive than the widely available Linksys RE1000 -- not exactly cheap in comparison to routers which offer (at least to the novice) more features while being either cheaper or at least not much more expensive. It could be a matter of demand as not too many user might actually need one. In any case, at the current problems I am experiencing it's hard to recommend the $80 investment although your router may not have the same quirks as my (refurbished) Linksys EA4500. If you need one, the RE1000 was more reliable to me and the RE2000 has more potential which remained unused in my case.
© 2013, theuerkorn
- Linksys RE1000 (Extender)
- Linksys EA4500 (Router)