- Dual band
- Clear indicators
- Effective at long range
- Not cheap
- Only one Ethernet port
We review BT’s latest WiFi extender to see how well it breathes life into the patchy not-spots of our home.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a big old townhouse, or your WiFi router is just a bit pants, then you’ll be familiar with the agony caused by WiFi black holes.
Areas where the signal drops means Netflix suddenly grinds to a halt and even basic tasks such as checking email become a Herculean struggle.
These signal woes can be solved with a simple WiFi booster and the Dual-Band WiFi Extender 1200 is the latest effort from BT. This handy gadget plugs into any spare mains socket in your home and can deliver a more reliable WiFi connection in any room. So, how did we get on with it?
BT 11ac Dual-Band WiFi Extender 1200: Setting up and getting started
Set-up is nice and easy, providing your router has a WPS button. All you need to do is plug the WiFi Extender 1200 into a socket in the same room, then press the WPS buttons on both your router and the extender at the same time. They should (hopefully) pair up, and then you’re free to move the WiFi Extender 1200 to any other socket in range.
If your router doesn’t have a WPS button, there’s a bit more legwork involved, but BT’s bundled set-up guide talks you through it in plain English. There’s a two metre Ethernet cable included if you can’t get wireless pairing to work, or you’d prefer a dedicated wired connection.
With the WiFi Extender 1200 successfully set up, you can move it to any room in your house where you’re struggling to get signal. The handy lights on the front of the device tells you if you’re too close or too far from the router. The WiFi Extender 1200 can happily be placed on an entirely different floor, with a distance of around twenty metres proving ideal.
Of course, every home is different, so you’ll need to indulge in a bit of trial and error experimentation to find that sweet spot.
BT 11ac Dual-Band WiFi Extender 1200: Get connected
Bear in mind that the Extender doesn’t ‘boost’ your current network. Rather, it creates a new network in a different part of your home.
However, connecting your devices to the Extender is just as simple; the password even stays the same, so you don’t need to remember different strings of letters and numbers. You may have to manually hop between access points when you move between floors or rooms, but that’s it.
Mirroring our dual-band router, the WiFi Extender 1200 created two new hotspots – ‘EXT2’ and ‘EXT5’ – allowing us to easily connect to the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels respectively.
You are of course, free to name these whatever you wish, but we liked that BT makes things easy by default. As the name suggests, BT’s WiFi Extender 1200 is also dual-band, so you can get a 2.4 and 5GHz signal on the go at the same time.
The 5GHz channel is best for gaming and streaming HD movies as there’s less general interference, and we found that streaming games over Nvidia’s GRID service, for instance, worked a charm. Likewise, Full HD 1080p video streaming showed no signs of stuttering.
BT 11ac Dual-Band WiFi Extender 1200: Conclusion
If you’re after something to improve flaky WiFi at home, then BT’s 11ac Dual-Band WiFi Extender 1200 will do that ably. That said we found ourselves wishing there were more Ethernet ports available. We lnow that the primary function here is to augment poor WiFi reception, but part of the beauty of Powerline-type devices is that they let you quickly set up ad-hoc wired networks.
At £70, it’s not the cheapest option around, and we’d have liked a bit more for our cash. That said, if this isn’t a dealbreaker for you, the Dual-Band WiFi Extender 1200 is a better investment than a cheaper, last-gen single-band device of a similar ilk.