Video First Look: WiEx zBoost XY-510 cellular booster

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
American iPhone users stuck living or working in an AT&T dead zone and unable to sign up for the 3G MicroCell now have another option to try in order to boost their wireless signal: the WiEx Zboost XY-510 cellular booster.



Unlike AT&T's 3G MicroCell, which creates a cellular 3G hotspot by piggybacking on users' local Internet access, the WiEx zBoost cellular booster relays an existing signal from an external antenna to a repeater box installed inside.



That means the zBoost simply won't work if there's no usable signal outside. However, many users experience problems with spotty indoor service because their home or office building simply blocks enough of the available signal to make indoor calls unreliable.



For these types of users, the zBoost is ideal; they won't have to wait for AT&T to expand its 3G MicroCell test markets or to benefit from network upgrades that are slowly improving the mobile provider's service network.



Because the zBoost simply relays and amplifies a given band of mobile frequencies, it works with nearly any service provider. The XY-510 model works on both 800 and 1700 MHz bands, which supports all AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon users, except for Sprint's Nextel subscribers using Motorola's iDen "push to talk" type mobile phones.



AT&T users can amplify both 2G/EDGE and 3G service that is available in their area using the device, enabling them to use the system to work around natural signal barriers related to elevation and topography or trees, walls and metal barriers. Of course, if there is no usable service in the area, the signal booster can't do anything about it.



In the box



For $400 or around $300 street, the xBoost XY-510 package includes an outdoor antenna (it looks like a baton) with a simple mounting kit, a 50 foot length of RG6 coaxial cable, and an indoor base station repeater, which requires a connection to a power outlet.







The outdoor antenna can be located anywhere there's a usable cellular signal, which might simply be indoors next to a window. For best results, WiEx suggests placement as high as practical, either inside an attic or, ideally, outdoors attached to the roof. Once cabled up the the indoor unit, the system can be powered on and hopefully will just begin working. There's no additional setup or configuration.



Status lights on the device indicate whether the external antenna is correctly connected and positioned. Too much signal or interference between the indoor and outdoor antennas can cause problems that will prevent it from working. For best results, WiEx suggests an outside antenna placement at least 15 feet above the level of the repeater box.



The inside repeater also has a jointed antenna that can be adjusted to account for different types of external antenna placement (such as whether both are set in the same horizontal plane or are installed on different floors).



After some experimentation, we found that the XY-510 was able to turn a completely dead zone inside our San Francisco flat into a functional area that supported not just phone calls and texts, but even pretty decent 3G data service. The difference between the signal available on the roof and that found outside on the sidewalk was also significant. Indoor signal is now better than I expect it to be when outside in my neighborhood.



The indoor antenna is omnidirectional, so it's best to place it as closest to the center of your home as possible. It is designed to provide 2500 square feet of coverage, although walls and particularly any sort of metal barriers will factor into how well the signal covers your living space.



More Bars?



WiEx warns that the device won't necessarily result in "more bars" on your cell phone display, as mobile phone indicators are both notoriously imprecise and only register major changes in signal; each bar typically represents 10db of signal strength (an order of magnitude).



Before hooking the device up, I could commonly "get" 3 to 4 bars of signal, even though I was not actually able to place a call, reliably send a text, or even have my phone ring for an incoming call. With the device in place, the level of service now seems quite reasonable, although there do see to be variations in usability related to weather or the time of day, which of course has a lot more to do with ambient levels of service rather than the performance of the zBoost system.



After some additional testing of the zBoost system, I'll report more on how well it works at my location, but early signs point to a major change in usability that could make the unit worth the expense to many people struggling with either spotty service or problematic locations such as working within a metal building or underground.



WiEx details its product offerings on the web at http://www.wi-ex.com/index.aspx

It's available on Amazon: Wi-Ex Zboost XY-510



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    woooo... did i just click on xnxx.com or redtube.com or is this for reel??? i could swear shes a bad actress from one of these porn sites..

    oh no wait ...its the new AT$T commercial ... yea woooohooooo0000
  • Reply 2 of 35
    OMG that was so awful, but great at the same time. It's how I imagine having sex with a prostitute might feel (no I haven't tried it and I'm not tempted). No, that's not a comment with regards to the incredibly sexy and smart Khara Cara (never heard of her), it's just that's how it made me feel.



    I'm so ashamed!!!! I mean my wife likes to show off when we go out, but this made a very attractive girl look sarcastically cheap in a more than just a little stuck-up way. I'll have to check out whether Khara Cara has another angle to her humor, and if she does, I might become a big fan (yes, she's hot).



    I like the idea, but I hope this is not the only schtick Daniel uses to make his videos funny.



    [Edit]One thing is for sure. If they keep working together like this, it will do wonders for both of their careers. Daniel's videos will explode with popularity as horny geeks spread the news of a hot and horny Asian doing tech videos (imagine if instead of "chicks and cars" mags you had "chicks and SSD storage" mags with half naked girls on the cover and you'll understand what I mean). Meanwhile, Khara Cara's popularity will go through the roof not only in her Bay Area region, but around the world, as horny geeks will be begging for more.[/edit]
  • Reply 3 of 35
    8corewhore8corewhore Posts: 833member
    Although expensive, I can see installing it in an office where several people can benefit and split the cost.
  • Reply 4 of 35
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    AT&T's 3G MicroCell is looking pretty cost effective now.
  • Reply 5 of 35
    Now if only there were something to fix my horrendous HDTV reception. I'm having the landlord take a look... if he doesn't fix it, I'm going to install my own rooftop antenna.
  • Reply 6 of 35
    mitchelljdmitchelljd Posts: 153member
    sorry, i just don't like these boosters. more trouble and complicated to install than they are worth.



    i have one, different brand, and it just doesn't work. I have needed a microcell, but ATT just isn't releasing it out of its test markets, no matter their promises to release it in 2009.



    does just having it in 1 test market, or now 5, really count as being helpful to their entire client base??? no.



    i am seriously giving verizon a real thought at moving over to them
  • Reply 7 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    AT&T's 3G MicroCell is looking pretty cost effective now.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mitchelljd View Post


    sorry, i just don't like these boosters. more trouble and complicated to install than they are worth.



    i have one, different brand, and it just doesn't work. I have needed a microcell, but ATT just isn't releasing it out of its test markets, no matter their promises to release it in 2009.



    does just having it in 1 test market, or now 5, really count as being helpful to their entire client base??? no.



    i am seriously giving verizon a real thought at moving over to them



    I personally do NOT want to pay a company to ignore the issue of crappy coverage by making YOU pay for a half solution aka only getting a signal in YOUR home.Imagine if you live in San Francisco and you had a microcell at your home. You may be able to get a signal at your home, but go down to the local coffee shop and you may not have a signal... Heck you may not have a signal even if you could SEE your house :/ That's why I don't support microcell technology. It just tries to mask an issue, but it does a BAD job at doing it. Come on cell phone companies! Get better coverage... then we won't need this "solution"!
  • Reply 8 of 35
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,182member
    Re: the video... that was embarrassing to watch.
  • Reply 9 of 35
    feynmanfeynman Posts: 1,087member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by just_a_guy View Post


    I personally do NOT want to pay a company to ignore the issue of crappy coverage by making YOU pay for a half solution aka only getting a signal in YOUR home.Imagine if you live in San Francisco and you had a microcell at your home. You may be able to get a signal at your home, but go down to the local coffee shop and you may not have a signal... Heck you may not have a signal even if you could SEE your house :/ That's why I don't support microcell technology. It just tries to mask an issue, but it does a BAD job at doing it. Come on cell phone companies! Get better coverage... then we won't need this "solution"!



    My thoughts exactly. We are paying enough for service, why should we pay anymore? Fix the damn problem AT&T!



    Oh and I should add, yeah San Francisco is the worst! I will get full bars and full 3G and calls drop like mad!
  • Reply 10 of 35
    ishanbishanb Posts: 2member
    I bought this device for the four iPhones we have (we live near Baltimore) and frankly, it did nothing even when mounted on the roof, and I took it down. YMMV, of course, but it was a lot of effort to mount it and our house is small. I think it works better in newer houses with less brick/stone/concrete in the structure, but that's just a guess. Make sure that if you buy it, you get it from someplace with a no hassle return policy.



    And the video was cheesy...come on, keep the site classy.
  • Reply 11 of 35
    jnsaffjnsaff Posts: 1member
    I don't know about the US but in Europe installation of mobile network repeaters is illegal without the authorization of the network operator. Any repeater will degrade the networks performance and the network planners need to know where and how many repeaters there are in any given cell, otherwise they get unexplained anomalies and problems.



    Also the installation needs to be done professionally, as dodgy installation will create interference in the network for you and others, worsening the situation.



    Contrary to the poster above, for a repeater to work efficiently (and to not create interference) there needs to be sufficient isolation between the outside and inside. So that the repeated signal is clearly the dominating and does not loop back to the antenna on the roof. So the "thicker" the walls the better the result with a repeater.
  • Reply 12 of 35
    jrcjrc Posts: 804member
    Time warp?

    This video is from a year ago.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxUQ17CvRRs
  • Reply 13 of 35
    dahacoukdahacouk Posts: 74member
    Why don't we just all jump into the microwave oven instead and have done with it?!?! ;-/
  • Reply 14 of 35
    eideardeideard Posts: 371member
    The external antenna can also be upgraded.



    We're down in a valley below line of sight from any nearby tower - cripes, there's one just 2 miles from the house. So, I got a Wi-Ex a couple years ago for my T-Mobile service.



    Worked ab't 90% of the time.



    Bought a larger, focusable antenna for ab't $80 from Solid Signal, last year, to replace the baton - and get about 99% reliability, now.



    Since then, I've noticed yet another upgrade antenna is available and I'm waiting on reviews to see if that's even more of an improvement.



    Just be aware, the antenna can be upgraded.



    The chuckle in our home - is that, since we mounted the Wi-Ex transmitter centrally, everyone's habit is to walk towards the utility room whenever they get an important call. :-]
  • Reply 15 of 35
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Way to pick up on this stuff early on, it's been around for maybe a year. Microcell is still barely available, with no date for wide roll-out. I couldn't wait an unknown amount of time for what might have been vaporware, so I bought my zBoost in the in July of last year.



    For my situation, I can't blame AT&T for my indoor signal strength because my shop has metal siding and lots of metal inside. The signal is usually decent outside, great on a clear day.



    I would buy my zBoost again in the same situation. But there are clear caveats. One is, if there isn't a signal to be had outdoors, this thing isn't going to help you very much, if at all. I wouldn't put the antenna on the roof unless you have a lightning rod. I installed the outdoor antenna high on the side of the building facing the nearest AT&T tower. The outdoor antenna should have a clear view of the cell tower for best results, fewer obstructions, the better. The repeater should be as far indoors as possible.



    I've also found that it's best for the phone to not be too close to the repeater. Within 6ft / 2m, the signal strength seemed to overpower my phone and the whole phone / repeater system has trouble.
  • Reply 16 of 35
    Quote:

    WiEx Zboost XY-510 cellular booster



    !(Catchy name)
  • Reply 17 of 35
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dahacouk View Post


    Why don't we just all jump into the microwave oven instead and have done with it?!?! ;-/



    That's silly because it totally lacks perspective.



    The watt or so that the repeater might be emitting is about a thousandth of what a microwave oven can sink into food. A microwave is allowed to leak more radiation power than the repeater emits through the indoor antenna.
  • Reply 18 of 35
    docmacdocmac Posts: 1member
    I purchased one of these 2 months back, I admit it isn't cheap but I live in northern Wisconsin and there is just no AT&T service.

    I upgraded the system to a better antennae and mounted on the highest part of my cabin.

    I went from having no service to having 4 bars. I'm impressed, I never in my wildest dreams thought it would work this good. The antennae it came with works sort of but the upgraded antennae works great, Take a cruise around and find your closes cellular antennae and point your mounted home antennae at it. That simple, as for installation it takes next to nothing. It can be installed and running in less than a half hour. It provides cellular service inside my cabin for around 1600 square feet or the first floor, granted the service is better near the inside antennae but I mounted it in the main room where we are most of the time.

    When nothing else is available this works.
  • Reply 19 of 35
    cvaldes1831cvaldes1831 Posts: 1,832member
    There's always this stuff.



  • Reply 20 of 35
    davegeedavegee Posts: 2,765member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tonton View Post


    Now if only there were something to fix my horrendous HDTV reception. I'm having the landlord take a look... if he doesn't fix it, I'm going to install my own rooftop antenna.



    I feel your pain... While I'm less than 20 miles from NYC I get ZERO HDTV OTA reception... it seems my solution would require removing the mountain my home currently sits on (on the wrong side as usual)... So, I've gotten over it but it still sucks!
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