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Cellphone-Mate CM2000-WL dB review: Cellphone-Mate CM2000-WL dB

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Quality cell phone signal amplifiers tend to be more expensive than most phones, but the cost might just be worth it really need the enhanced coverage. If you live in a city, you probably don't need one, but if you reside in a rural area then you should at least consider the option. Wilson Electronics offers some of the best options that we've reviewed, but the CM2000-WL from Cellphone-Mate is a solid choice as well.

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7.6

Cellphone-Mate CM2000-WL dB

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The Good

The Cellphone-Mate CM2000-WL delivers a stronger signal to your cell phone.

The Bad

The Cellphone-Mate CM2000-WL comes with a load of restrictions regarding placement of its various parts. It won't support Nextel's iDEN network and voice quality improved only marginally.

The Bottom Line

Provided you can afford it and you can get through the setup process, the Cellphone-Mate CM2000-WL should makes a positive difference in your overall call quality.

The CM2000-WL's design is similar to the Amplifier Cradle Kit from Wilson Electronics. It consists of four main parts: the main amplifier, a power cable, an external antenna for catching the cell phone signal, and an internal antenna for transferring the signal to your phone. It supports CDMA, TDMA, GSM, and AMPS networks, but it will not support Nextel's iDEN.

The amplifier measures 4.3 inches by 4.5 inches by 1 inch and weighs 9.4 ounces. Its silver metal casing gives it a solid feel in the hand and an industrial look. Like with the Wilson product, the CM2000-WL is easy to set up, but the finished arrangement can be bit clunky. First, you must find a place for the amplifier box. If you're in a car, we recommend stashing it under one of the front seats. Otherwise, if you're at home you can put it almost anywhere.

The CM2000-WL's outside antenna measures six inches and is composed of a sturdy but flexible metal. It has a strong magnetic base so it should stay it place on your car's roof even at high speeds. You'll need to run the connecting cable through the car door or window and attach it to the amplifier box. The wire stretches an ample 10 feet, but keep in mind that it can be a tricky process to thread the wire into your car or home while keeping it out of the away.

We also found it rather difficult to place the outside antenna in just the right spot. According to the CM2000-WL's user manual, it is only for outside use and it must be at least one foot clear of other antennas. What's more, a rather ominous "Warning" clause in the manual advises that the antenna should be placed at least three feet from any vehicle occupants. Depending on the size of your car, it may be difficult to follow all of the advisories to the letter.

The internal antenna also comes with its own set of rules. It should be placed at least five feet from the external antenna, at least four inches from any metal surface, and at least 10 inches from any person. Here again, just the right spot may not exist if you have a small car. The internal antenna is plastic and measures 4.5 inches. You can secure its adhesive back to a variety of surfaces, but we wouldn't recommend attaching it to glass. The cord connecting it to the amplifier box also measures 10 feet.

The final step in the CM2000-WL's setup process is to plug in the amplifier using the included cigarette light or AC adapter. Both come with relatively long cables. Once you're ready to go, just flip the amplifier's power switch on the left side. An indicator light will tell you when it's ready to go.

We tested the CM2000-WL with a Nokia 5300 Xpress Music, an Apple iPhone 3G, and a Samsung Instinct. With each model we saw an improvement in signal strength, particularly when in an area of San Francisco that has poor reception for all carriers. We did see a reduction in dropped calls, less static, and smoother connection. The improvement to each phone was about the same, though the Instinct had an extra bar at times.

Keep in mind, however, that a stronger signal and better voice quality are two different things. Though the CM2000-WL promises to improve both, voice quality continues to be variable. True, we never lost a connection when using the amplifier, but voices on all phones still sounded a bit distorted and the volume was rather soft. Even so, the CM2000-WL makes a change for the better.