We acquired the Netgear WN2500RP Dual Band N600 Wi-Fi Range Extender some years ago, to strengthen wireless network coverage throughout the garage and the swimming pool area in the back yard. Until then, the Wi-Fi signal from the main house DSL router and access point, quickly grew weak and unreliable, once you moved outdoors, and beyond approximately 100 feet. The WLAN connections would fail or slow to snail-pace speeds at even shorter distances; particularly on wireless clients with only one, very short network antenna, or an internal aerial. Even in the strong signal conditions found just a few feet away from the house, Wi-Fi receipt was spotty and sensitive to motion. That is, it worked well as long as you did not move your mobile device around. But the network connection would fade and slow with just a small nudge or repositioning of the client. Unacceptable.
In the garage, connecting to the main Wi-Fi network could only be accomplished in certain spots close to the kitchen door, and then only, at very low bit rates (less than 3 Mbps). The smart television out there, at the far end of the garage, could not connect at all. So instant Netflix video streaming was out. Further, running an Ethernet cable the hundred feet or so from the DSL router
But the WN2500RP fixed much of that, moving those fringe coverage areas significantly farther away from the house. Aside from the halving of network throughput when you connect through a wireless access point (WAP) that is repeating another, as is done in any repeating Wi-Fi range extender, this Netgear repeater and bridge functions flawlessly. It certainly cleared up the “flaws” in our pool and garage network coverage by eliminating the weak-signal conditions so prevalent at the deep end of the pool. The WN2500RP virtually destroyed dropouts, pauses, stutters, and lost connections while streaming Internet radio stations on a floating portable radio, while lazing on an air raft in the pool.
Yet this extender requires no physical (wired) Ethernet connection to the main DSL router. It enabled streaming Internet radio stations in the garage as well as watching Netflix movies on the smart TV, with far fewer buffering delays and dropouts, the inherent bandwidth reduction in repeating range extenders notwithstanding. At less than a hundred dollars, the WN2500RP is cheap, simple to use networking solution, once you configure it to repeat your main wireless network, and we’re impressed with its FastLane technology, which enhances video streaming performance.
Benefits, Features, Pros, and Advantages
- Straight forward setup instructions. A well-illustrated Installation Guide is included in the package. A Users Guide with setup instructions is available at the Netgear support web site. See the references section below for a link to it.
- Defers need to upgrade primary router. True. You could extend your primary WAP / router’s range by purchasing a higher power model, which usually costs well into the hundreds of dollars. Also, you may not be able to upgrade your primary router if it’s provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and they offer no better performing unit. But this sub-one-hundred dollar solution, accomplishes the wireless range extending about as well, but for significantly less money. Thus, you can obtain the increased range and reliability at a distance from your old primary router, without having to purchase a new one.
- Internal antennas. No external antennas to come loose, flop over, or get lost.
- Good compliment of status lamps. Multi-color Lights for both the 2.4 and 5 Ghz. network extensions are provided to show how good the established connection is between the router and this extender. We also have power, link status between wireless clients and the WN2500RP, lights for each LAN port that glow green when an active wired connection exists there, and the WPS lamp that flashes when the extender is listening for WPS clients.
- Few buttons and keys. All buttons and switches are located on the back panel, including the WPS activation, RESET, and Power ON / OFF.
- 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. The WN2500RP 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 Netgear extender, via its Genie interface, allows wireless devices (tablets and smart phones) to connect to it via Wi-Fi, in order to perform initial setup and configurations (http://www.mywifiext.net). Once set up, you can also connect to this extender’s SSIDs, and again, access the setup pages.
- Genie setup and configuration web interface. The Genie web server, built into most recent consumer grade Netgear products, looks and works very much the same from one Netgear wireless device to the next. So if you’re familiar with how to set up another Netgear device, such as a Wi-Fi router, you’ll feel right at home programming the WN2500RP .
- 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.
- Works from any in-range location. To extend your wireless network in a different direction, you simply move the WN2500RP 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; one for 2.4 Ghz., and one for 5 Ghz. During setup, you enter the names (SSIDs) you want each of these to utilize.
- Popular AC power supply included. Comes with a 12-volt, 1 Amp., 12 watt switching power adapter. Easily replaced if it fails.
- 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.
- Two year limited warranty.
Cons, Problems, Concerns, Drawbacks, and Limitations
- WN2500RP 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. However, the unit does include some snap-on feet to limit this limitation.
- 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.
- No Gigabit Ethernet support. The four back panel RJ45 ports are Fast Ethernet MAX only (10/100BASE Tx).
- 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.
This Netgear N600 range extender incorporates true “set it and forget it” design. Once configured, just tuck it away somewhere so long as that place is reasonably well ventilated, and if you don’t care to look at the status light ever. For most casual network users, actually seeing the unit frequently is unnecessary. If you can find the network extension SSIDs on your Wi-Fi devices, this extender is probably working fine. We’ve never noticed it locking up or crashing, 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 the WN2500RP at 96 out of 100.
- The observations in this piece were made, running:
- Firmware version: V126.96.36.199_1.0.36_wizard_fix
- Hardware version WN2500RP
- GUI language version: V188.8.131.52_184.108.40.206
- Belkin N600 Dual Band Wi-Fi Range Extender F9K1106v1 Review
- Cisco Linksys Wireless Media Connector WES610N Review
- Official Product Page
- User’s Manual from Netgear
- What is a Wireless Range Extender? on Wikipedia
- Where to buy the Netgear WN2500RP Wireless Range Extender
- 2017-02-19: Revised the tags list.
- 2015-10-20: Added appropriate tags.
- 2015-09-08: Originally published.