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Published on December 18th, 2012 | by Greg


Wireless Extenders Reach To 4G With The zBoost YX550

Have a new smartphone on the Verizon network? If you’re like us, then you love the new iPhone 5 and especially the 4G and LTE data speed, which can sometimes be as fast as a home wireless network. If you’re like us, then the regular dropouts are an issue, since in many urban environments, cellular signals get degraded fast thanks to lots of concrete and other obstacles. The problem isn’t new, but until now you weren’t able to do much about boosting the newer spectrum, and were limited to 3G or slower.

Thanks to the Wi-Ex zBoost YX550-VLTE-AWS DataBlast for Data On the Verizon LTE & AWS Network (whew!), you can enjoy much stronger signal, and cover up to 2500 feet and multiple devices. When we first heard about the concept with the old 510 model, we were quite curious, and now we’re believers: using a booster can improve your signal, but also help your battery life, since the device isn’t drained while straining to find a good tower.

The unit looks and feels a lot like the earlier models, but with a black casing instead of white. In the box, you’ll find the base unit, antenna, power supply, 50-foot coaxial cable, signal antenna and mounting hardware. We discussed the pros and cons in a bit of depth in earlier articles, like our review of the YX545, and the same facts hold true here. The hardware has changed a bit, especially the antenna which now looks more serious, but the essentials have not. What you need to know is simple: the unit requires some setup and tweaking, but one adjusted, it’ll work great for Verizon customers (an AT&T model is coming soon, pending FCC approval). Earlier models offered range up to 3000 square feet and support for multiple networks, but if you want the cutting-edge data support from LTE and 4G, you’ll have to sacrifice a bit of range and the multi-carrier support.

And you’ll need some signal to boost. This device, like all boosters- and we’ve seen models from Wilson and CelLynx as well- require at least a bit of signal to operate. Which means you’ll need to pay attention to where you mount the external antenna, and have reasonable expectations. In our tests, we went from a fair-to-middling signal strength of three or four bars to a solid, steady five. As we noted in a previous piece: “careful positioning, along with some trial and error and testing, will be required for best results, and note that the antennas are omni-directional so that you want the base unit in the middle of a room for the best effect and widest coverage.” Also, you need to place the signal antenna at least fifteen feet above the base unit, so some folks are likely to have trouble finding a good space in apartment buildings and the like. Our first setup resulted in the base unit’s LEDs blinking red and green, so we made some adjustments until we could get a solid green indicator.

We tried both iPhones and Android devices operating on the Verizon network and found results were great, even with simultaneous connections, best within a room of the base unit. Available now, for around $260, and a great option for those who want better data access and cell signal in their office or home.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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