Wi-Ex zBoost YX500/510 Cellphone Extender First Look: Oh Wow

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Not to sound like a jaded old hack, but I rarely get excited by anything that I see anymore. I know. I’m a jaded old hack. Anyway, the Wi-Ex zBoost Cellphone Extender was one of those things that actually made my heart race a little, so when it came I decided to pull open the box and give it a go.

The $399 Dual zBoost Extender is a frequency booster for 800/1900MHz cell signals. It works with CDMA, GSM, and TDMA (no Nextel iDen, sorry) and is supposed to boost your signal up to 3000 square feet. That’s how it works in theory, anyway.

It comes with a long antenna, coaxial cable, and the unit itself. There are only three lights and stuff starts blinking green when you’ve got a good signal. Otherwise, the thing goes crazy and you know you need to move something somewhere else.

I work in the basement and I get no cell reception anywhere in my house. I’m usually running a Sidekick 3 on no bars and I get dropped calls all the time. T-Mobile actually sent a kindly gentleman out to the house one day to test our signal. Our neighborhood was fine and outside my house – front and rear – we had an excellent signal. He literally took two steps into the house – just in the threshhold – and his signal went down to almost zero. So this is what I’m dealing with.

I installed the zBoost, put the antenna outside a window and in a few short minutes got three to four bars on my SK3. It’ll take an “after” picture when I’m sure this isn’t a fluke, but it’s pretty convincing. This is what I like to see — a cool product that does exactly what it advertises. I’ll give it some further testing, but I’m duly impressed.

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