[REVIEW] ANKER 300 Mbps Compact WiFi Repeater.


First: it’s tiny. Like. Really tiny. For $40, I was impressed that it worked as advertised.

Here’s some way to get an idea of how tiny this thing is: It’s about the size of a travel USB phone charger. Those kind that are designed for international use. Or the ones that shipped with Motorola smartphones and most BlackBerrys in the past few years. It’s _super_ small. Carryon luggage small.

And what is it? It’s either a hotspot in a little box, or a way to get an Xbox, PS2, Xbox 360, etc. online. (Anything without a WiFi dongle basically.) As long as it has an Ethernet port*, it can get online with this.

It’s also an Access point, and a repeater.

 

TESTING:

Basic testing revealed that the instructions are super simple to follow and get set up. Do it once and forget it.

It’s got a switch on the side for 3 settings: AP, Repeater, and Client.

AP:

AP works well. Roughly same output as my home network, which are Netgear RangeMax N routers running DDWrt. As I only had a short cord that was provided in the box, the Anker AP was set up only feet away from the Netgear AP. InSSIDER gave me the stats that it was roughly the same output. Not as powerful, but that is expected, as I have my Netgear boxes modded.

Repeater:

Repeater is rather impressive too. It will be slower than being directly connected to the main broadcasting box, but it’s still impressive. Connected to the Netgear box, I was able to copy a video file from the home server to my laptop at about 3.5MB\s. Connected to the Anker, I was pulling 3.1MB\s on repeater mode.

Client:

Client also is impressive. This is where my caveat about being able to just plug and go on a game console comes into play. If the console has a browser, it should work out of the box. Otherwise you will need to connect it to a PC that has an Ethernet port and configure it from there first (The instructions do specify this though, so no docking of points to them. They covered all their bases.) Set up as a client, I was able to actually pull files to my laptop faster than it’s own built in WiFi. (Connected via built in wifi to my home network, I was getting the 3.5MB\s. Connected via Ethernet to Anker Client, 4.2MB\s)

 

Build quality:

Outside, it looks like cheap plastic. Not too cheap, but just cheap. Not knocking it though. The plastic is nicer than my Netgear’s plastic. And it’s nicer than most flash drive cases. It seems to stand up well too. Tossing the device around the house for a while (including down the stairs) and nothing was damaged on the device. The prongs for the outlet did put some bite marks into the stairs though.
The switch is a bit sticky, but nothing too bad. Just a slightly stick switch. It means you can set and forget. No worries that it’s switched off the setting when you travel around.
The lights are noticeable, but nothing annoying. If you have this plugged into a hotel room, it will be useful, and non intrusive. Hotels that charge for WiFi (but not for Ethernet) are an ideal location for this. Set it in repeater mode and tether to your phone to lessen the load on your phone when you travel too. It’s neat.

Inside, it’s impressive. There’s 2 halves: Power and WiFi. They’re separated by a thick plastic shield, and connected with 4 pins. My Multimeter is dead, but I’d assume they’re 5V+ 5V-, 12V+ and 12V- all DC.
The WiFi and sensitive bits are covered by metal shields. They pop off easy enough and it’s powered by a Realtek wifi chip. I could see DDWRT, OpenWRT, or Tomato being shoehorned onto it (if it hasn’t already, I haven’t’ checked.)
On the underside of the board (The side with the LEDs), there’s sockets for a second set of antennas. if you were to remove the WiFi half from the casing and from the power, You’d be able to add your own antennas (the OEM ones are glued in). If you’re an antenna nut or want directional, you could easily do that. They seem like standard laptop socketed antenna plugs, so you should be fine with those, or the kind that convert the laptop to a desktop style.

The whole thing seems rather impressive. Anker warned me that I shouldn’t open it up, as it may degrade performance, but I haven’t noticed any difference. If it is putting out 5V to power the WiFi, I could see myself adding a USB socket or a set of jumper leads to power a raspberry Pi off of it. It’s nifty. I’d recommend it.

 

The bad:

Only niggle: the outside box is a little hard to open. I don’t know many people who will open it more than once though, so not a big deal.
Actual problem: Manuals are shipped on a mini-CD (not a full size). If you’ve got a slot-load CD drive like most Dell laptops, and all Apple products have, you’re out of luck. Not a big deal, as they’re also included in print and online. Just a bit annoying. The box the product is shipped in can accommodate a full sized CD, so that’s my only suggestion for them.

It also gets a bit warm. I’ll probably use it in the garage in winter, and add a fan to it (by tapping the power probably) in summer. It should hold up well. Two big vents on either side mean it won’t suffocate.

 

Here’s all the pictures of it below:

Enjoy. This is the first of many reviews of Anker products!

–me

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Someone who feels the need to help others using the information that I have discovered. If someone else finds it useful, I'm more than happy to have helped.

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