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No bars in no places

January 12th, 2010

logoDuring the past nine years we’ve lived in three houses but all in the same neighborhood. The first home had crappy cell phone reception, the second (only a few blocks east) had great reception. Our current home has the crappiest reception yet—and it’s only about one block away from the first one. In fact, our entire street has pathetic reception no matter your cell phone carrier. Trust me, we love T-Mobile but would change in a heartbeat if it meant more bars in more rooms. If we’d known this home had bad cell phone reception it just might have been a deal breaker. Totally serious.

zBoostSo what’s a girl and her technologically advanced husband to do? Follow up on a recommendation from a friend to try out the zBoost from Wi-Ex. Another cell-phone-reception-challenged neighbor had used this gadget to give him a few more bars inside his home so we were anxious to test it. Wi-Ex was happy to send us their zBoost YX510, which “extends a zBoost Cell Zone for single or multiple users in homes or offices.” Basically it should give you more bars in more rooms. This unit claims to increases indoor signal coverage for up to 2500 square feet and is compatible with all U.S. carriers and mobile devices. Other benefits:

  • Increases voice and data transmission for any U.S. phone or wireless data card

  • Decreases dropped or missed calls

  • Easy to set up

  • Extends phone battery life (uses less power when signal is stronger)

Question of the day is did it work? Well, yes and no. First, the zBoost was fairly easy to install. Actually, it was cake for me since I simply handed it over to my husband with a “hear you go—go do your thing” and he had it working in no time. We have found it has helped with improve our signal coverage so we can make and receive cell phone calls better than we could before.

zBoost_homePreviously we’d sit on the front porch if we wanted to actually hear someone on the other end or do the “can you hear me now?” thing, hang up and call them back using our home phone. Now we can hold a decent conversation but the signal is still a bit weak. We’re at about 2 or 3 bars, which is better than no bars but definitely not as good as 4 or 5. I tend to stand by a window or in my kitchen while chatting, and if my husband wants to hold some serious convo about the latest YouTube video on some nifty homemade gadget or the cool CGI in Avatar, he heads to the basement where the signal is the strongest.

So is the $300 price tag worth it for the fully decked-out zBoost YX510? If you rely on your cell phones as much as we do, yes. An average signal is better than no signal at all and the Wi-Ex zBoost is cheaper than moving yet again. But if you’re only a casual cell phone user (do any of those still exist?), then you might want to stick to your home phone or find a more affordable option like a couple tin cans and a really, really long string.

If you’re looking for a few more bars in other places, Wi-Ex does offer some cool options for the traveler (zBoost for your car) and international users, plus they also offer commercial solutions for businesses. You can check out all the zBoost options at Wi-Ex.com.—Emily

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