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CNET First Look
The Cel-Fi is a great cell signal booster for a price.The Cel-Fi is a great device that helps you avoid getting disconnected while having a cell phone conversation, yet CNET editor Dong Ngo still doesn't want it for himself. Find out why!
So we have a long and involved conversation with somebody far away and special, and poof, we got disconnected. It's just another cell phone story. Really. But not as a way for you to save that long distance romance of yours, if it's worth it. I'm Dong Ngo and this is the Cel-Fi from Nextivity. Now, the name is Cel-Fi and not selfie. Selfie, the thing you do in hope to start a romance, and this thing here helps you maintain one. Got it? So what is this? Well, this is a cell signal booster, and it come with 2 units: the receiver right here, or the window unit. Now, you would have put these units where the cell phone signal such as by the window of your top floor. You can see it come with these bars right here to show how strong the signal is. Ideally, you would have put it where there are full bars. But it says 1 bar is enough. The second unit here is the booster or the coverage unit. You want to put this one as far away from the first one as possible, because the farther it is, the larger the coverage is gonna be. But not too far away because then the two cannot synch. So how far is far? As it turns out, the two of them here connect to each other using the same frequency as 5 megahertz Wi-Fi, and that means you can put them between 150 and 300 feet apart. Basically, as long as you this green icon here on the second unit, that means the two are not too far away. Now, note that it takes up 2 feet for these two to synch, so you might have to wait a bit during the setup process. And that's all you have to do to take advantage of the Cel-Fi. In my testing, it actually worked really well and boost the cell signal a great deal. For example, I'm here in the middle of building, actually deep in the ground. And take a look at this. This T-Mobile phone here still show full bars. Very impressive. Now, you know the Cel-Fi works well. But it's not perfect. Far from it, for a few reason. First, is only work with GSM carrier and it's carrier-specific. So in the States, you have to buy either for AT&T or T-Mobile, or buy 2 to work with both. And secondly, while it works really well with voice, for data, it does not support 4G LTE. Now, it's not a big deal because we're inside, chances are you have Wi-Fi. What's the big deal is also my final complain about this one is the price. Is very expensive, costing somewhere between $500 and $600. Now, for an office, it's not a big deal because it actually worked pretty well because it support up to 60 user at a time. But for home, well, you have to really think if talking to that person is worth the investment. Now, for more of the Cel-Fi here, check out my full review at cnet.com. Am I going to get it for myself? No way. Because it's always better to say, "I'm sorry, I got disconnected," when you actually want to hang up on people. Take my word for it, that's because I'm Dong Ngo, and this has been the first look at the Cel-Fi from Nextivity.