The Edimax EW-7438RPn N300 Universal Wi-Fi Extender is a wall wart: it is entirely built into its plug. It’s meant to be out of the way: out of sight, out of mind. The front features LEDs indicating Wi-Fi signal strength, Wi-Fi connectivity status, power status, WPS mode, and Ethernet activity. There’s also the WPS button under the Edimax logo and product name. The side features simply the lone Ethernet port used for router or bridge mode.
The rear is rather simple, having just the plug and serial information. The bottom has the power switch, useful for disabiling the unit when out of a hotel room or when you’ve been using the signal provided by the device in an area that should only have signal when you are present!
I plugged in the Edimax EW-7438RPn N300 Universal Wi-Fi Extender and started setting it up. The LEDs came on right away, but it takes a minut or two for the unit to be fully ready. Don’t worry if you don’t see its “extender######” network pop up right away in your wireless scan.
I set it up as a client to my existing WPA2-PSK network, cadcx, powered by an ASUS WL-500W router in 802.11n mode, while in the same room on the second floor of my house. The instructions rightfully say to do this in order to have the strongest signal possible during the setup process. I later moved it to a couple different locations in my house. The automatic setup did not work for me, despite knowing that my password was correctly entered. Frustrated, I tried manual setup and it worked.
Disappoiningly, the signal strength of the unit while in the same room was on par with the other client devices. According to the signal strength indicator in the DD-WRT control panel on my ASUS WL-500W, the extender was only at 60% strength. While most of the other devices in the room are client devices at 50-60% signal strength, the one wireless bridge/extender I have in my basement is at 95%. I expected a stronger signal.
I took a tour of the control panel to see what tweaking options I could find. The Advanced Settings one had some options, but few there would be of use to me other than the Tx Power, which maxes at 100%. I’d have liked to boost it further!
The MAC Address Filtering tool does what it says on the tin. It’s limited to 20 MACs, though. The System Settings tool shows the IP address and DHCP information, if the device should handle its own DHCP. The configuration tool handles primarily backup and restore. Lastly, the WPS Settings tool lets the user configure WPS.
I was able to connect to the new SSID from my computers just fine. I felt a noticeable speed difference, especially on the local LAN, so I immediately moved on to testing to see what could be awry.
Colin Dean has been a writer for ThinkComputers since 2006.