Picture of the extended network Wi-Fi SSIDs, established by the Belkin Wireless Range Extender. as seen on an iPad Air.

Belkin Wireless Range Extender F9K1106v1 Review




We purchased the F9K1106v1 Belkin wireless range extender a couple years back, hoping to improve wireless network coverage throughout our back yard.  Until then, the Wi-Fi signal from the main house quickly grew weak and unreliable, once you moved outdoors, and beyond approximately 150 feet from that indoor-situated router.



The wireless connections would fail at even shorter distances on wireless devices that only sport one very short network antenna, or an internal aerial.

Picture of the Belkin N600 F9K1106v1 Dual Band Wi-Fi Range Extender, left side view.
Belkin Wireless Range Extender F9K1106v1, left side view.

So we were disappointed, upon bringing home our brand new third generation iPod Touch, only to find that internet radio streaming did not function well out at our pavilion; some 230 feet from the main house.   We couldn’t walk around with the iPod while performing yard work, even when the signal was pretty strong, without the connection fading and dropping altogether. Worked okay as long as we stood still.  But move around just a little, especially when far away from the house, and the stations would disappear for sure, along with the wireless connection itself.

Picture of the Belkin N600 F9K1106v1 Wi-Fi Range Extender, right side view.
Belkin Wireless Range Extender F9K1106v1, right side view.

But the F9K1106v1 fixed much of that.   Aside from the halving of network throughput when you connect through a wireless access point (WAP) that is repeating another, a drawback inherent in all repeater-mode Wi-Fi range extenders, this Belkin repeater and bridge functioned flawlessly.  It definitely cleared up the “flaws” in our yard network coverage.  It eliminated the weak-signal conditions so prevalent at the far end of the yard, and virtually destroyed dropouts, pauses, stutters, and lost connections, as we’d stream while shoveling the far end of the driveway, or while buzzing around our two-acre lot on the lawn tractor.

Picture of the Belkin N600 Dual Band Range Extender, front view.
Belkin Wireless Range Extender F9K1106v1, front view.

Yet this repeating range extender requires no physical (wired) Ethernet connection to our main broadband router / access point.



It enabled us to stream Internet radio stations and watch Netflix movies while perched on porch swings in our mid-yard pavilion, without any buffering delays or dropouts at all.  It’s an inexpensive, simple to use networking solution, once you configure it to repeat your main wireless network, and we’re impressed with its technology.

Picture of the Belkin N600 Wireless N Range Extender, rear view, showing Ethernet ports, RESET button, and power supply connection.
Belkin N600 Wireless N Range Extender, rear view, showing Ethernet ports, RESET button, and power supply connection.

Benefits, Features, Pros, and Advantages

Straight forward setup instructions.  Comes with a well-illustrated startup instructions sheet.

Internal antennas.  No external antennas to come loose, flop over, or get lost.

MultiBeam technology.  Helps fill in those pesky dead spots and weak Wi-Fi signal areas in and around your home and yard.

Few buttons and keys.  The WPS activation button is the only front panel one, and the RESET button is the only button found on the back.  No power ON / OFF switch, as Belkin designed this Wi-Fi accessory for always-on operation.  If you MUST turn it off due to threatening surge conditions like thunderstorms in the area, it’s best to simply unplug the power cord anyway, and not rely on an internal switch to keep any voltage spikes away from the sensitive electronics.

Simultaneous dual band operation.  Effectively receives and transmits on both the 2.4 and 5 Ghz. wireless network bands at the same time.

Repeating function.  This range extender, broadens Wi-Fi range by re-transmitting data that it receives through its sensitive internal antennas, via its powerful yet sensitive radios.



Bridging function.  You can connect Ethernet-based devices like wired Internet radios, desktop computers, and DVRs to your main WAP, through the wireless link established between this unit and your primary WAP.  Excellent for bringing Internet into a remote office that while close enough to receive your main Wi-Fi, is too far away to run Ethernet cable to.

Wireless setup.  This Belkin extender allows wireless devices (tablets and smart phones) to connect to it via Wi-Fi, in order to perform initial setup and configurations.  Once set up, you can also connect to this extender’s SSIDs, and again, access the setup pages.

Has four Ethernet ports.  Think of this as a 4-port Ethernet switch, but with wireless capability as well.  It will locally connect Ethernet-bound PCs, radios, et al.  But this switch / range extender will also extend your main Ethernet hub, via the wireless link that it establishes with your primary WAP.

Defers need to upgrade primary router.  Alternatively, you could extend your primary WAP / router’s range by purchasing a higher power model, which usually costs well into the hundreds of dollars.  But this Belkin sub-one-hundred dollar solution, accomplishes the wireless range extending about as well, but for significantly lower cost.  Thus, it enables you to obtain the increased range and reliability at a distance from your old primary router, without having to purchase a new one.



Works from any in-range location.  Plus, to extend your wireless network in a different direction, you simply move this unit closer to where you need the improved Wi-Fi signal.  Once configured, it will rebroadcast your primary WAP from any location that is still in range of that WAP.  Easy to move too.  You just unplug it from the AC outlet, take it where you need the improved Wi-Fi, and plug it in there.

Supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS).  You may connect WPS enabled wireless devices to the extended networks hosted by this range extender.  However, you cannot connect the extender to your primary wireless networks with WPS.  You must explicitly choose the SSIDs to which you’re connecting, and enter the correct passwords for each.

Provides secured Wi-Fi links throughout.  Not only are links from wireless clients to this unit secured, but so are those from this range extender back to the primary Wi-Fi network; the one being extended.  This unit offers the WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security options on its output SSIDs.

Extends both 2.4 and 5 Ghz. Wi-Fi networks at the same time.  The unit creates two new SSIDs; the 2.4 Ghz. one is the same name as the 2.4 Ghz. network you’re extending, except that the string “_xt” is appended to the original SSID name, and the 5 Ghz. network is the same name as the 5 Ghz. network you’re extending, except that the string “_5xt” is appended.

Security options preconfigured, out of the box.  The unit ships with its network security already configured.  So you needn’t worry about putting up an unsecured wireless network when setting it up.



Popular AC power supply included.  Comes with a 12-volt, 1 Amp., positive tip switching power adapter.  Easily replaced if it fails.

Network information card and keeper on unit bottom.  Write the SSIDs and passwords of the extended versions of your wireless networks that this unit is hosting, and store for safe keeping in the card holder underneath the pedestal.

Silent operation.  No internal fans to draw in dust and make noise.

Fast boot up.  The extension wireless networks appear less than a minute after unit power on.

Easy to use web interface.  See the status screen shot below for a complete list of functions and parameter settings that you can adjust via your web browser, on this extender.



Two year limited warranty.

Picture of the Belkin N600 Wi-Fi Range Extender, in operation, showing the two additional Wi-Fi networks created by this unit (circled in pink), as extensions of the originals, which are also shown.
Belkin wireless range extender, operating, showing the two additional Wi-Fi networks (circled in pink) created by the F9K1106v1, as extensions of the originals, also shown.

The above picture shows this Belkin N600 range extender in operation. We’ve programmed it here to extend the 937T681J4059H_2G and 937T681J4059H_5G Wi-Fi networks.  We renamed the default extension names as follows: The 937T681J4059H_2G_ext network extends the 937T681J4059H_2G  network, and the 937T681J4059H_5G_ext network extends the 937T681J4059H_5G network.

Cons, Problems, Concerns, Drawbacks, and Limitations

Shoddy construction.  The case appears to be made of thin, fragile plastic.  Not at all rugged.  We prefer all our IT equipment to sport a substantial metal enclosure for best shielding against spurious signals escaping and causing interference to other devices.

Small footprint.  This N600 is easy to knock over, as it stands, on its thin side, oriented vertically as pictured above.  So, we recommend stowing this device inside a protective cabinet or well out of the way of foot and hand traffic, such as behind an entertainment center or couch.

No gigabit Ethernet speeds.  100 Mbps is as fast as the switch within this device goes.

No cross-connecting of extended and extension networks.  That is, you cannot extend a 2.4 Ghz. Wi-Fi network with the 5 Ghz. extension SSID on this extender.  The 2.4 Ghz. extension SSID can only be set up to repeat a 2.4 Ghz. primary network.  Also, the 5 Ghz. extension network can only re-broadcast a 5 Ghz. Wi-Fi network.   Would be nice if you could “cross wire” the 2.4 and 5 Ghz. primary networks and extensions.  However, such a feature might confuse novice users and network admins.



Too few status lamps.  Two lamps only; the power-on / overall status lamp, and the WPS LED, that blinks when the N600 is ready to receive WPS-based connection requests from WPS-enabled client devices. We’d like to see at least several more lamps, including separate status indicators for the 2.4 and 5 Ghz. extender networks, as well as ones for each input network (the networks being repeated / extended).  Also, all these lamps should blink or flicker when the corresponding link receives or sends data.  Finally, a front panel status lamp for each of the four Ethernet ports would be quite beneficial.

Not a full-fledged router.  This is a range extender and network switch only.  It neither allocates IP addresses to local clients, performs any network address translation (NAT), nor provides firewall functionality.  Instead, it passes any requests for these functions on to the primary Wi-Fi network.

Picture of the Status web page on the Belkin N600 F9K1106v1 Range Extender.
Belkin wireless range extender F9K1106v1, status web page.

The picture above is the status web page issued by a configured and operating Belkin F9K1106v1 N600 Dual Band Range Extender.  It shows the various configuration options, including the 2.4 Ghz. and 5 Ghz. extension connections, extended network settings like SSIDs, security, and WPS. It also provides utility functions such as restarting the extender, restoring factory default state, updating the firmware, setting the administrative password, and viewing the log.

Our Rating

This F9K1106v1 Belkin wireless range extender embodies the best of “set it and forget it” design philosophy.  Once configured, just hide it away somewhere if you don’t care to look at the status light ever.  For most casual network users, actually seeing the unit frequently is not necessary.  If you can find the network extension SSIDs on your Wi-Fi devices, as shown above on our Apple iPad Air, this extender is probably working fine.  We’ve never observed it to lock up or crash, and it seems to recover well from primary network outages.  It automatically reconnects when the primary Wi-Fi network comes back online.  Definitely slower performance than when connected directly to the primary net, but still highly useable; especially in areas where the primary signal is very weak.  In this situation, you may actually experience INCREASED bandwidth and performance.  This unit therefore, does what it claims to do, and we like it.  So we rate it at 95 out of 100.

Disclaimers

The observations in this piece were made, running firmware version 1.0.16, hardware version 01A, and boot loader version 0.02.  This is the current software compliment as of 2015-09-02.

Suggested Reading




References

Revision History

  • 2017-01-15: Simplified this article’s title to: Belkin Wireless Range Extender F9K1106v1 Review
  • 2017-01-04: Added more links to the Suggested Reading section.
  • 2015-10-22: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2015-09-02: Originally published.