Helios-Ex AC2200 Wi-Fi Range Extender Review
There’s a downside to moving into a bigger house for my kids to grow up in... my wi-fi signal suddenly doesn’t cover my whole house. There are a lot of solutions for such a problem, and I was happy to find out that the folks at Amped Wireless wanted us to review their Helios-Ex AC2200 Wi-Fi Range Extender. It’s tri-band with a DirectLink option that can eliminate the speed slowdown other extenders often come with. In short, it’s practically a plug-and-play superpowered extender to make all floors of your house covered in Wi-Fi.
The HELIOS-EX sas that it can extend Wi-Fi coverage up to 12,000 square feet - far more than I needed, and truth be told it seemed to extend my signal off my deck and into the yard by a considerable amount. Internally, the Helios has 12 high power and signal reception amplifiers for the simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands, a high gain antenna, and a quad-core ARM processor. Three more antennae attach to the rear of the extender. MU-MIMO technology allows the router to communicate with more than one device at a time easily (which is good since my son is never without his iPad).
As mentioned at the beginning, the HELIOS-EX includes a second 5GHz band (DirectLink) for connecting to your main access point (router). This frees up the Helios’ other two bands (5Ghz and 2.4Ghz) for wireless devices to use and increases their speeds. Most extenders don’t use this tech, so the speeds suffer. The 2.4GHz band allows speeds up to 399Mbps and both 5GHz bands up to 866MBps.
The Helios-Ex isn’t as much of a beast as you’d expect. It’s rather on the thin side, and comes with a stand that allows you to upend it or lay it flat. I chose to put it on its side, and placed it near the router, as I have few other places in my house to put it that’s not out in the open for small hands to touch. And with the 12,000 foot range, that worked wonderfully. It certainly “amped” up my signal, and let me connect to my network from every location in the house. Even the Nintendo Switch’s rather weak wi-fi was able to pick up the Helios’ broadcast easily from the bedrooms and the basement.
Previously, while I could get a wireless signal to the basement for my PS4, it was considerably weakened. Speeds of 5Mbps when I’m supposed to get upwards of 500 were not ideal. The Helios changed that, easily taking speeds on the PS4 above 400Mbps, and yes, that’s in the basement, several dozen feet away from the router and downstairs. The Helios also comes with 5 Gigabit network ports, which is really helps since I can now plug my Apple TV and Smart TV directly into the extender, while my wired connection to the desktop in the basement takes up the ports on my router. It’s also worth noting that the Helios has WPS 1-touch set-up. Any device with the same tech doesn’t need a special WPA key - just press it on the router and then on the device and you’re connected. The only real issue you might run into with such a large signal is people trying to mooch off your wifi. Be sure to use strong security keys and make sure your channels being broadcast don’t mesh with the neighbors for both your sakes.
If anything, the Helios-Ex is almost overkill for most houses. 12,000 square feet of coverage is no joke. But I’d rather have too much than too little, that’s for sure. The extenders run from $150 to $180 in price, but Amazon currently has it listed at $146, for those looking to bulk up their connection for the holidays. It’s definitely recommended for anyone wishing they could use their wifi from every room in the house.
Note: Our router was provided by PR for review purposes.