The Extender 1600 from Strong is a small box that, in theory, can receive Wi-Fi anywhere in the house by extending the range of the existing home network. This is particularly practical if the Wi-Fi of the Internet box is not strong enough or if the house has many walls and other obstacles that create white areas. The device embeds MIMO 4×4 (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology, operates on the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, and manages the 802.11n and 802.11ac standards. In theory, everything you need to offer high-performance Wi-Fi. Is that the case ?
Installation is simple if the box or router has the WPS function. Then simply connect the Extender 1600 to the mains with the supplied adapter, switch it on and press the WPS button on both devices.
Without WPS, installation was not a problem for us. After turning on the box, we connected a smartphone to the Wi-Fi network issued by the Extender 1600, then we used a browser to access the administration website and enter the data of the pre-existing home Wi-Fi (name and password).
The operation can of course also be done with a tablet or laptop. We appreciated the complete administration interface which allows to modify many parameters, starting with the identifier and the password of the wireless network of the Extender 1600, or even MAC filtering to prevent access to the network. to other machines.
Once the network is configured and in place, the time comes for performance measurements. In this case, when used as the main router, the Extender 1600 has a double face. Thus, the rates offered are excellent at short range (up to five meters), when walls are interposed between the transmitter and receiver or at medium range (up to 10 meters) and, of course, when the line of vision is clear. In these cases, rising and falling speeds are recorded which have reached 471 Mbits / s and 507 Mbits / s respectively.
On the other hand, in spite of the MIMO antennas, the signal weakens strongly as soon as one moves away or when slightly thick walls are interposed between the Extender 1600 and the peripheral to be connected. Between five and ten meters, speeds then drop very sharply to 192 Mbits / s for downloads and 88.5 Mbits / s for downloads. Beyond that, in our review setup (an apartment where there are many thick load-bearing walls), the signal is just too weak to get anything but a few web pages that are very slow to display.
When you use the Extender 1600 as a repeater, you notice two things. First of all, as we said above, the configuration is really very simple. Then, the speeds are very correct, as long as we make sure to place the router close enough to the initial transmitter (box, other router, etc.). The more the environment can affect the expansion of the network waves, the more the Extender will need to be brought closer to the box. This gives extended coverage with maximum speeds of 180 Mbits / s going down and 80 Mbits / s going up.
It is not as efficient as with Google Wi-Fi or Netgear Orbi, but the promise is different, the price also. Not to mention that the Extender 1600 also has another advantage, a function of sharing a networked storage space.
A ready to use micro NAS
The Extender 1600 has two Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back, for example to connect to the box with the supplied network cable and to serve as a Wi-Fi access point. But it mainly has a USB 3.0 port for sharing on the network an external hard drive, USB stick or printer. We plugged in a USB key (Fat32 or NTFS formatting) and easily accessed its content with our Windows 10 laptop.
The speeds depend however on several factors such as the storage device and the performance of the Wi-Fi interface of the laptop. If you have a TV connected with Wi-Fi interface, you will be able to access the files on the NAS because it is UPnP AV and DLNA compatible.
A tune of music for iPad and iPhone
Finally, the Extender 1600 acts as a wireless audio client and manages Apple’s AirPlay protocol. For this, it has an audio jack output on the back of the housing.
We plugged in a portable speaker and then connected our review iPhone to the device’s Wi-Fi network. When playing music, the Extender 1600 appears in the list of available AirPlay devices.
We selected it and the listening was then transferred to the portable speaker, with very good audio quality. The only downside noted at the end of this review concerns the temperature of the case which reaches 50 degrees after a few hours of use. This is not critical but it will be necessary to think of leaving space around the device.