The Wilson Electronics iBooster offers a user-friendly design, and it fulfills its promise of strengthening your iPhone's reception. Yet, those pluses come at a price--both literally and figuratively. It requires a power source, so you can't wander far from an outlet, and the sky-high price of $279 will put it out of reach of many consumers. In a perfect world there would be no need for a signal booster in the first place, particularly one that costs almost as much as the iPhone itself, but any cell phone user can tell you that reception is never perfect.
The iBooster consists of three parts: a cradle for the iPhone, an external antenna, and the power cord for a cigarette lighter port. Setup is beyond easy provided you can arrange the various parts.
The cradle measures 4.6 inches by 2.6 inches by 1.75 inches. It's made of plastic, but it has a solid construction. You can attach it to your dashboard or air vent via the included clamps, which have adhesive backing. We love that the cradle accommodates both the iPhone classic and the iPhone 3G, even with standard cases. We were able to use our iPhone 3G with its case for a snug fit. If you don't have a case, the iBooster comes with an adapter to hold the phone securely.
The black antenna measures 4.25 inches and has a magnetic base for attaching to your car's roof. The connecting cord is 12 feet long, so you should have plenty of room for threading out your door or window, even if the arrangement can be a bit awkward.
The power cord measures about 12 feet with a small DC converter near one end. That's probably longer than you need to connect to your car's power port, so you should take care to tuck the slack cord away. The cord uses a mini-USB port to connect to the cradle.
You will need to leave your iPhone in the cradle to get the boosted signal, which means you'll need to use the speakerphone or a Bluetooth headset to make calls. But really, you should be doing this anyway when you're making calls while driving. Unlike the Griffin Clearboost, you can't take the iBooster on the go, but the trade-off is a better product.
When testing the iBooster in low-signal areas of San Francisco we did get a noticeable signal boost when making calls. Calls were less likely to drop, and the connection remained strong when passing through the dead zones.
Keep in mind that signal reception and call quality are two separate things. Though we did notice an improved signal, the actual audio remained variable at times. On a couple of occasions the volume faded out, and there was a hint of static. Also, because the audio form the iPhone's bottom-speaker has to pass through holes in the cradle, the sound was a tad muffled. And on their end, a few callers had trouble hearing us. But even with those caveats, the iBooster does its job well.