Wi-Ex zBoost YX300 cell phone signal extender review: Wi-Ex zBoost YX300 cell phone signal extender
The last Wi-Ex product we reviewed was the zBoost YX510-PCS-CEL cell phone signal extender. While it was a powerful product that worked like a charm, it was somewhat difficult to set up and it came with a ton of restrictions regarding the placement of its various parts. Fortunately, Wi-Ex now offers a simpler alternative with the zBoost YX300 cell phone signal extender. User-friendly and functional, the YX300 does a good job of boosting your cell phone's signal in places with low reception. It works with a variety of GSM and CDMA phones, but unfortunately Nextel handsets are not compatible. On the upside, the YX300 is a good buy at $169, which is more than $200 cheaper than the YX510.
Setting up the YX300 is so easy that the instructions are small enough to fit on the back of the package. It only has three parts: the zBoost base unit, the power cord, and the antenna. The unobtrusive base is white with a green stripe. It's completely devoid of any buttons or switches and the only indicator light is a tiny LED that glows red when the power is on. It's also relatively small at 5.0 by 3.8 by 1.18 inches, and with its lightweight, but sturdy, plastic shell it weighs only 7.36 ounces.
Two suction cups on the back of the YX300's base allow you to secure it firmly to a flat surface, even a window. But before that, you'll have to use your phone to find a location in your home or office that gets a measurable signal. At least one bar will work, but ideally you should find the best signal you can. Keep in mind that the YX300 needs to receive a cellular signal in order to boost it (it doesn't create signals on its own), so if you can't get a signal anywhere in a building then this product is not for you.
You can then attach the plastic boosting antenna to the base via the screw connector. Fortunately, the wire for the antenna measure 19 feet, so you have a lot of freedom as to where you can position everything. It's best to locate it near the center of the room to create a wide boosting area, as the YX300's range is only four to six feet. The antenna also has two suction cups so you can attach it a variety of places. The final step is to connect the YX300's power cord and plug it into a socket. The connecting wire is six feet long, so you shouldn't need an extension cord. On the other hand, the AC adapter has a funky shape, so you may not be able to use the adjacent plugs on a power strip.
Once you have all the parts connected, you're all ready to go. We tried using the YX300 in a location with reliably poor cell phone coverage. With both a CDMA (Verizon's Motorola W385) and a GSM (AT&T's Sony Ericsson W580i), we received noticeably improved coverage. The boost ranged from one to three bars, but an improvement of two bars was more or less the average. On the whole it brought most dead zones to life quite adequately. The audio was clear without any static and we didn't notice any difference between the two phones.
When we tried the YX300 in an area with good reception it made no difference at all. Not that we expected to see any change, but it was worth the experiment just the same. Just remember that cell phone coverage will vary by area, so the YX300 may not provide a boost in some places. Also keep in mind the effective range; if you're living large you may not be able to get improved coverage in your entire house.