MEGATech Reviews – Diamond Multimedia WR600NSI Dual Band Wireless Range Extender

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We’ve come to take wireless technology for granted. We just assume that if we go to another room in our homes, we will still have no trouble latching onto our home Wi-Fi network to surf the web and watch YouTube videos. Unfortunately, many homes and offices have their fair share of “dead spots” and upgrading your router sometimes isn’t enough. Sometimes, you want to invest in something like the Diamond Multimedia WR600NSI wireless range extender, an all-in-one unit that plugs into any wall outlet and bathes you in that wonderful Wi-Fi once more.

Highlights and Features

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The fundamental idea behind the WR600NSI, which was announced last month, is a simple one. It’s a monolithic block of plastic that you can plug into a wall outlet where you still have a reasonable connection back to your main access point. The WR600NSI then turns around to extend that range by creating a network of its own.

While it can’t function as a standalone router like the older WR300NR Wireless Extender can, the WR600NSI does provide you with dual band 2.4GHz/5GHz wireless 802.11n coverage with up to 300Mbps speeds at a range of up to 30 meters. That’s with MIMO 2T2R, for those of you keeping score at home. It also helps that this plugs directly into the wall, as you don’t need to deal with a separate power brick or anything like that. The WR600NSI is a little bulky, but it is convenient.

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In addition to its primary function as a wireless range extender, the Diamond WR600NSI can also act as a wireless bridge. You’ll notice it has a standard Ethernet port on the underside. If you have a device that requires that wired connection, you can use that port while the WR600NSI gets on the wireless network on your behalf. There’s also WPS support, plus support for the usual WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption.

The Quick Setup Process

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Diamond Multimedia has completely revamped its user interface from when I tested the WR300NR several moons ago. The graphical interface is a lot more attractive and a lot more intuitive now, allowing you to get up and running in a matter of minutes. One hiccup that I encountered, though, is that you still need to connect the WR600NSI to your laptop via a wired connection to go through the setup process. If you have an Ultrabook like me and you don’t have a networking port, this can create a frustrating challenge. Thankfully, I had a USB 3.0 docking station on hand to address that.

Ensuring that I turned off the Wi-Fi on my notebook and used only the wired connection via the WR600NSI, I then dialed into the appropriate IP address through a web browser to get to the Diamond UI. Setup was a breeze. I simply selected the wireless network I wanted to use, entered the passcode, and waited for the unit to reboot. That’s it. I could then unplug the WR600NSI and place it somewhere else in my home.

There is more to the administrative interface if you want to dig into some more advanced settings. You can set a different SSID for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, for example, changing the security mode, passphrase, encryption type and so on. The UI also allows for easy firmware upgrades and the ability to quickly check on your device information, like the build date, firmware version, MAC addresses and wireless status.

Extending My Wireless Range

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My assumption was that this range extender would simply take my existing wireless network and re-broadcast it. That’s not completely true. Instead, what this Diamond range extender does is take the existing wireless network and create two new wireless networks that tap into that Internet connection. The two new networks use the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands respectively, appending (2.4Ghz) or (5GHz) to end of the original SSID name.

In my case, I wanted to extend the wireless range into my backyard. If I wanted to connect my smartphone, tablet or laptop to this new extended network, I would have to connect to the new SSID. It’s not seamless from the old network. There are surely technical reasons behind this, but it is something that you should keep in mind when using a device like this. Aside from that, the WR600NSI performed as advertised and I was able to get on the Internet in places where my regular router had a hard time reaching.

MEGATechie Extended Excellence or MEGATechie Wrong Ranger?

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If you’re looking for a really easy way to address the dead spots in your home or office, picking up the Diamond Multimedia WR600NSI is a pretty easy way to do it. Setup only took a minute, the extended range is right around advertised (depending on placement and line of sight), and having the LED indicators on the front offer some reassurance. The 300Mbps speeds on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz band should be more than adequate for most users, though it is a bit of a shame that we don’t see any 802.11ac support yet.

The Diamond WR600NSI dual band wireless range extender sells for about $55 online with potential rebates for more savings. While it would have been nice if it were a little less bulky, I do appreciate that it doesn’t block the bottom wall outlet when you plug it into the upper one.

About

Michael Kwan is a freelance writer who also happens to be a professional gadget geek. From smartphones to digital cameras, he's gotta get 'em all. Follow him on Twitter: @michaelkwan.

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