Home / HARDWARE / WEBOOST EQO REVIEW: THIS CELLULAR SIGNAL BOOSTER COULDN’T IMPROVE OUR IN-HOME COVERAGE

WEBOOST EQO REVIEW: THIS CELLULAR SIGNAL BOOSTER COULDN’T IMPROVE OUR IN-HOME COVERAGE

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Your home is your castle. A personal sanctuary. A safe retreat where you can gab on the phone for as long as you please. At least, that’s what I loved about my home until spotty cell service and frequent dropped calls started driving me mad.

I was hoping the weBoost Eqo ($349.99 on Amazon) could come to the rescue. The Eqo is a cellular signal booster that works with all smartphones on all the major carriers. It’s supposed to improve network performance and call quality inside your house the minute you plug it in, but I found the set-up process to be finicky, and the signal-boosting to be inconsistent to downright non-existent.

And I wasn’t the only one: A co-worker tested the weBoost Eqo and experienced similarly poor results in his home. The bottom line is that unless you’re starting with a strong enough cellular signal at the edges of your house, this product won’t do anything for you.

Setting up the weBoost Eqo

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Set up requires that you tether the booster unit (rear) to the antenna (front) with a coaxial cable. Once connected, the two pieces must be separated by at least six feet of distance.’

The Eqo comes in two pieces: a booster unit that sits on your windowsill and wirelessly connects to the nearest cell tower, and an antenna that must be placed at least six feet away. Both units are light enough to lug around the house, but they’re also eyesores that don’t easily blend with home decor. The upshot is you’ll have to get creative about how you integrate them into your home—and that could be a challenge if the best window for the big, black, blocky booster unit is in your otherwise posh living room.

The power cable for the booster unit is inexplicably short. As a result, you may have to run an extension cord to get power to just the right windowsill. The booster connects to the antenna via a 25-foot coaxial cable, and there’s no escaping the fact that the cable is just another eyesore junking up the house.

How to set it up

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The main booster unit features three ports: one for charging, and two inputs for antennas. You can buy a second antenna separately if you so please.

At first glance, the Eqo units are easy to set up. All you have to do is connect the two pieces with the bundled coaxial cable, and then plug in the booster. The hard part is actually figuring out where to place the two devices in your house.

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Place the Eqo by the window nearest to your cell tower—and make sure it’s pointing toward the interior of your house.

For best results, you’ll want to place the Eqo booster unit in the window that faces the neighborhood cell tower with the best signal (it will typically be the tower closest to your house). If this all sounds a bit daunting, that’s because it is. Luckily, a few apps can help determine where to position the booster unit. On Android, I used OpenSignal to help locate my nearest cell tower, and SignalCheck Lite to measure cellular signals in decibels inside my home. Yes, there’s a signal indicator available in the Android Settings panel, but I found the apps to be more accurate.

When it comes to cellular signal strength, lower numbers are better, so you’ll want to place the unit wherever you get the smallest decibel-milliwatt (dBm) reading. Once you’ve figured this out, connect the booster to the antenna, and then place the antenna at least six feet away, and facing the area of the house that needs the most boost.

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If the green light is on, you’re good to go.

After that’s all laid out, plug in the booster—hopefully the best position is near a wall outlet!—and wait for the light to come on. If it’s green, you’re good to go. If it’s red, that means your two units are in a feedback loop, so locate the antenna further away from the booster, and make sure it’s facing in the same direction as the booster.

Does the Eqo even work?

Wilson, which manufactures the weBoost line, claims that the Eqo can boost your existing cellular signal up to 32 times the amount you’d regularly have available. I had a positive experience when I initially tested the Eqo at CES (an environment completely controlled by Wilson), and then again when I plugged in at the TWiT Brickhouse in Petaluma, California. But, unfortunately, that didn’t translate to my experience at home.

The Eqo is not a box of magic. It won’t create more cellular signal if you’re in a dead zone. In fact, a rep from Wilson customer service told us the product really isn’t effective unless you already have a signal of -90 dBm or stronger on the edges of your house. This extremely important bit of information appears nowhere on the product packaging, or even in the more detailed description on the Wilson website.

In fact, the following statement—buried in the Wilson website—is the only caution we found: “The existing outside signal strength that you receive has a large impact on the amount of coverage area you get from a signal booster. It is important to remember that there are many factors that go into determining the coverage area, so actual results may vary from these estimates.”

The Eqo comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, but who wants to deal with returns? Really, there’s only one legitimate use case for the Eqo: Boosting a sufficiently strong signal from the edge of your home to the middle of your home—like, say, an interior room or a basement where you experience a lot of dropped calls. Now, that’s a fine use case. But Wilson should be much more up front about what the Eqo can and cannot do.

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On the left are the measurements of the Nexus 6P’s network connections without the Eqo booster turned on. On the right, you’ll see that signal improved only incrementally  for both EVDO and LTE with the Eqo turned on.

 

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