Wi-Fi networks are wonderful for the freedoms they can offer. Depending on setups and homes, however, they’re not always trouble free. Slow speeds, dropped connections, and weak signals are but a few common issues. And it may not always be simple to install Ethernet cabling. Range extenders are a potential solution. They typically act as new access points, repeating signals, and reducing dead zones. The Amped Wireless HELIOS-EX AC2200 is one such device, an extender dense with amplifying technology, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it performed in my own Wi-Fi troubled environment.
The HELIOS-EX promises to extend Wi-Fi coverage up to 12,000 square feet. Internally, it’s armed with 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. An additional three antennas attach to the rear of the extender. MU-MIMO technology allows the router to communicate with more than one device at a time. Furthermore, the HELIOS-EX includes a second 5GHz band, dubbed DirectLink, for connecting to a primary access point (a home router). That frees up the extender’s other two bands for wireless devices to use and thus increasing their speeds. The 2.4GHz band supports speeds up to 399Mbps and both 5GHz bands support 866MBps.
For all its hardware, the HELIOS-EX isn’t particularly thick. That, the inclusion of an easily attachable stand, and the adjustable antennas afford a lot of placement options. It’s built almost entirely of plastic, which is standard for any modem or router, but heat was never an issue. The rear of the extender houses buttons for power, LED (you can toggle off the front light indicators), and WPS connect. Five Ethernet and a single USB 3.0 port are found here, as well.
Setting up the HELIOS-EX took only a few minutes. I used my phone for configuration, but anything that has a web browser and can make a wireless connection to the extender will work. The HELIOS-EX can also be configured on the PC by attaching an Ethernet cable between the two. After going to the address specified by the instructions, the extender will search for nearby wireless access points. And once I selected my Wi-Fi home modem router, verified signal strength to it within the setup menu or via a light on the front of the extender, and set network passwords, I was good to go. All my wireless devices now saw Amped_HeliosEX_2.4 and Amped_HeliosEX_5.0 as two new network options (they can be renamed).
The entire process was made easier by a very well-made graphical user interface. There are plenty of advanced administration controls to dive into for those that really want to tweak their setup, too. You can adjust security settings, output power if you don’t need to cover 12,000 square feet of home, configure guest networks, create a local network share, adjust IP settings, update firmware, check system logs, and much more.
Previously, the systems in my downstairs entertainment center didn’t have the strongest connection to my primary router. I was all too familiar with the problems described in the first paragraph. The PlayStation 4 would often report download speeds of 20MBps, 10MBps, or lower. Opening store and community pages could feel like endless waits. The HELIOS-EX was placed on the same floor on the consoles, about halfway between them and the router; and once they connected to it, the difference was striking. I was finally seeing throughput that was much closer to the 100Mbps I’m paying for. Signal strength stayed at a steady 100%. And loading into online games, such as Destiny 2, took noticeably less time.
Amped Wireless’ HELIOS-EX AC2200 Wi-Fi range extender is practically a plug-and-play solution to limited wireless coverage. It solved many of the issues I was experiencing with my own home network without me needing to get a drill, a hammer, and plaster to wind a lengthy cable throughout walls and floors. It is expensive, currently retailing for $149.99 to $179.99, but it may be worth the investment for those looking for increased Wi-Fi coverage and performance.
Full disclosure: A unit was provided for review.