It’s starting to get cold outside now and that’s forced me to finally start looking into a solution to my poor cell reception. The problem isn’t my carrier or my phone as I get a good signal right outside my door or right up against the window, but something with the construction of my apartment building blocks the signal. I have been getting “Signal faded, call dropped” messages for a while when I start wandering away from the window or walk back inside. This hasn’t been so terrible as I get to go sit outside and relax or go sit next to the window, but unfortunately phone calls (or at least my phone calls) are never so static. Very frequently, I need to go look something up on the computer in order to answer the whole reason somebody called, but as soon as I start heading further into the building, the call gets dropped.
My first hopeful solution was the zBoost zPersonal Cell Phone Signal Booster or for its full name:
Wireless Extenders zBoost YX300-PCS/CEL zPersonal Dual Band Cell Phone Signal Booster for a Single User (Wireless)
This little device is a repeater and not an amplifier, meaning it would reproduce the signal I was able to get outside (or near the window) into a 6 foot bubble around its antenna. That should provide me at least 2 bars around my desk, where I primarily need it. Compared to other devices out there, I found the zPersonal device at $60 to fall into the affordable category and be sufficient for my needs.
I ordered from Amazon and soon the package arrived. It’s a simple clear package with a cardboard outline all the way around. Just about all the information on the Amazon description was found on the box.
The contents of the package include 3 things: the zBoost device, a 20 foot antenna, and the AC power adapter.
The only directions that come with the package are located on the back of the package. Regardless of that limitation, I followed them to a T. You attach the device to a window with its suction cups where you receive at least one bar. Then screw in the 20 foot antenna cable with its mini-coax adapter into the zBoost device. Then move the antenna at least 10 feet away from the device. Finally plug the power adapter and the ac adapter in to provide the unit with power.
A green light should show on the device if everything is good. A red light will show if the antenna is too close to the base device. From a few reviews I’ve read, I’m told the light will blink when it is relaying a phone call.
I had the device located where I was getting 2-3 bars of strength and I simply hoped it would repeat that signal a few feet away where I sat at my desk.
I set up the device, had the antenna positioned, and made a few test calls with it. Unfortunately, I was not getting the 2-3 bars that I get near the window when I was within 6 feet of the antenna. I was getting zero bars and putting my phone closer to the antenna or right next to it resulted in no change. I also did not receive the blinking light that others reported having at any point when I was on the phone and repeatedly still received dropped calls. When I moved the antenna closer to the device, the light would turn red. The only way to get rid of the red light, that I found, was to power cycle it. I stretched the antenna all 20 feet and sat next to it with no luck.
As far as I can tell, knowing full well the limitations and having realistic expectations, the zBoost zPersonal Cell Phone Signal Booster never did anything except waste my time as I set it up and tested it out. With sparse documentation, no indication that it’s working or what signal strength the device is receiving, the zBoost has a long way to improve in my opinion. Fortunately Amazon.com allowed an easy return for this defective device and I was credited shortly.
Summary: Do not buy.
Has anybody had better luck with this device or similar products?