6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, Better Wi-Fi for under $250

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(ABC 6 News) – It’s 2023 and few things are more annoying than dealing with a Wi-Fi dead zone in your home. The good news: fixing it is easy and as Consumer Reports explains, doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money.

Chris Patterson and his family spent years struggling with their Wi-Fi.

“The router for our house is on one side of the house, while most of the time we’re on the other side of the house. It was kind of getting hard to use the Wi-Fi without being in the living room,” says Patterson.

But that all changed when they got a mesh network.

“It changed the Wi-Fi completely—all of a sudden now it worked everywhere in the house,” Patterson explains.

What’s the magic of a mesh router?

It’s actually pretty simple: mesh networks use several routers together to spread the Wi-Fi signal throughout your home and around obstacles.

“Some common items include a fish tank, a big metal refrigerator, the pipes in your home,” says Consumer Reports’ Nicholas De Leon. “These can all sort of block the Wi-Fi signal and prevent you from getting a decent connection.”

Consumer Reports tests routers for what matters most: how fast they send a Wi-fi signal from several distances, and data privacy and security.

Mesh networks from Linksys and TP-Link aced all of CR’s distance tests. They can be set up using an app and have automatic firmware updates to help protect you and your data online.

They both support WiFi 6. But even a mesh network that uses the older WiFi 5 may feel like an upgrade from your old router. And it’ll save you some money.

“Everything is backwards compatible. So, if you buy a brand new iPhone today, which has the latest Wi-Fi chip in there, it’s gonna work fine with the Wi-Fi 5 router,” explains De Leon.

Like the Google Nest Wi-Fi. CR’s experts say it’s great for small or medium-sized houses. It also has automatic firmware updates and can be set up using an app.

It’s what Chris has in his home. And now he says there’s no going back.

Want to spend even less money? CR says a Wi-Fi extender can be useful in some situations, especially if you’re dealing with only one pesky dead spot in your home. They can cost $50 or less.