Review: Amped Wireless SR20000G repeater [Update]

We’ve recently done reviews on the Amped Wireless R10000G and R20000G wireless routers and have been very impressed with the quality, features, and functionality of the devices. So when the company asked if we’d be interested in reviewing the SR20000G wireless repeater, we assumed we would be seeing more of the same high quality. Turns out, we were right.

The device works by taking an existing wireless signal and then rebroadcasting it. This allows you to put your wireless router some place convenient, and then add the repeater to cover an even larger area like your yard. You have the option of using the same SSID or changing it so you can specifically tell when you’re connected to the repeated signal. We found testing which network we were connected to was difficult if we left the SSIDs the same, so most of our tests were done using a secondary SSID.

Setup of the SR20000G is done via a simple setup wizard. Connect the repeater to a PC using the included Ethernet cable, point your web browser to the new device, and then follow three easy steps: Scan for and select the signal you want to repeat; type in the wireless key for that signal; and then pick what you want the name of your new SSID to be.

We did encounter two small issues setting up the SR20000G. The first is that with the base firmware, the textbox to enter the wireless key is limited to only 30 characters. This gave us problems in our setup since our wireless key is much longer than that. When we contacted Amped Wireless, they provided us with an updated firmware the next day, so this is no longer an issue. The second thing we noticed was that the wireless password is displayed in cleartext and is automatically stored by the browser. This seems like another minor issue that can be easily addressed by a firmware patch, but it’s a little sad to see such minor issues slip through the QC process.

We tested this setup in a real-world situation: trying to get Internet access in a boat house and at the end of the boat dock, far from the router itself. In our test, the wireless router was in the back of the house, the repeater was at the front of the house roughly 40 feet away, the boat house was 50 feet from the repeater and the dock was another 30 feet past that (for a total of 80 feet) from the repeater. It was a clear, sunny day when we ran our tests, so it’s possible inclement weather could change the test results.

Getting a wireless signal from the router to the boathouse has never worked – you usually can’t even see the original signal. Once the repeater was in place, we could get a good signal and even stream video from Netflix. We then went one step further and walked 30 feet to the end of the dock. Once there, our signal remained strong – in the mid 60s according to the Wi-Fi Analytics tool – and we were still able to surf the web, albeit slightly slower. Streaming from Netflix was hit-and-miss (more miss than hit), but streaming via TuneIn Radio worked fine.

We tested the repeater with both the R20000G and a D-Link DGL-4500 and the setup and use were identical for both. We’ve read that some companies force you to use the same branded router/repeater, and we’re glad to see that Amped Wireless gives users the flexibility to choose.

The repeater has a USB port that provides basic filesharing capabilities when a drive is connected, but we doubt this is a feature most people will use. The device also has five gigabit Ethernet ports, making it a useful bridge to connect wired-only devices to your wireless network. If you have an Xbox 360 or an A/V receiver that has an RJ-45 connector but lacks built-in WiFi, this device could be used. In our limited experience, we saw no noticeable performance degradation from the additional network hop.

Overall we came away impressed with both the ease of setup and the range of the device. In short, the device works out of the box with a minimal amount of fuss. Does it justify the $159.99 price tag? If you need the extra range, we’d say it probably is. There are cheaper devices on the market that we haven’t had a chance to test, but we know this one works.

UPDATE: We reached out to Amped Wireless to ask about whether a user can connect to the 5Ghz channel on the repeater but have it go to the 2.4Ghz back to the router, and the answer is yes and it happens automatically behind the scenes. From the vendor:

It happens automatically.  There is actually a lot of intelligence within the repeater that works behind the scenes…

Here are the following setup options that it supports:

Home Network > Extended Network

2.4GHz only > 2.4GHz AND 5GHz (or any single freq)

5.0GHz only > 2.4GHz AND 5GHz (or any single freq)

2.4GHz AND 5GHZ > 2.4GHz AND 5GHZ

2.4GHZ AND 5GHz from TWO DIFFERENT ROUTERS > 2.4GHZ (From router 1) AND 5GHZ (from router 2)

The advantage of having these functions is that it gives the advanced users a lot of options. Say if they have a very strong 2.4GHz connection but wish to change it to 5GHz on the back end for connection quality purposes they can connect to the 2.4GHZ home network and 5GHz extended network.

The repeater also lets you set which Home Network the WIRED ports will pull from.  For example, if you want devices connected to the wired ports to route through your 5GHz network you can do that (default).  Otherwise you can go to Wired Port Routing on the interface and change it to 2.4GHz if you wish to do that.

In addition the Repeater also has a lot of checks that go on in the background to make sure each one of these connections is running properly.  If either the 2.4 or 5GHz Home Network connections, drop, change channel, have a power outage etc… the repeater will identify it and attempt to reconnect to the network automatically, regardless of a changed channel etc…

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