Review: Linksys RE6500 Range Extender
3.6Overall Score

Price (RRP): $160
Manufacturer: Linksys

Need a way of getting your wireless network at home or work to cover more ground? Linksys might have the answer with the RE6500, a range extender capable of taking an wireless network and pushing it out further, with support for 802.11ac networks, too.

Features and performance

Picking up the RE6500, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a small router, or a small modem router, because the design language is pretty much identical to what Linksys normally offers in its wireless routers.

Rather than occupy a small space plugged into your wall, the RE6500 resembles a wireless router, albeit a much smaller one, with two antennas sticking out the back and a four-port gigabit router, as well.

There’s also another port around on this gadget that might surprise you, with a 3.5mm jack for plugging in a speaker.

Why would you plug a speaker into a wireless router? While we’re not sure this will be used tremendously, this is here in case you want to send music to a small speaker hanging off the side of the router, which might be useful if you haven’t discovered the joys of multi-room audio yet.

Sending audio to the range extender won’t happen in the same way as it does with the Sonos, with several Android and iOS apps making this possible, and treating the range extender as if it were the audio device. Windows can even see it like a network device, and you can send audio to it by right clicking the music file and pressing “send to” when you want to play music.

Still, the main reason for getting the RE6500 is to extend that range, and so to start using it, simply grab it, plug it in, and have it switch on.

Setting up the Linksys RE6500 range extender isn’t overly difficult and shouldn’t take long, though it will depend on the setup you have at home.

Simply connect to the range extender’s WiFi network, enter http://192.168.1.1 into your browser, and follow the onscreen directions, connecting the range extender to the network you’re trying to extend, with options for both 2.4 and 5GHz available to you.

We’ll give Linksys credit where it’s due, because the setup here is a breeze, allowing for a very easily install that anyone who knows how to use a web browser could do.

The only time it might not work, mind you, is if the network connection is too weak, which is, in fairness, the reason you’re probably eyeing the range extender to begin with. At that point, you will have to bring the RE6500 closer to the wireless router. If you’re extending out on the same level, it will likely mean moving the RE6500 unit a little closer, perhaps in the hallway or a closer room, but if you’re setting it upstairs, this actually means leaving the range extender on the floor, which worked for us.

In fact, at work and connecting to our network downstairs, we found the 2.4GHz network could easily be picked up by the range extender, while the 5GHz network posed a problem or two.