Monday, December 04, 2006

Another no-bar noel

There are many things I like about living in Orange, Virginia. Cell phone coverage is not one of them. Orange is at the extreme edges of several different coverage areas, so you can only get partial coverage in the country. How many bars you have (or don't) and where depend on which service you're with. Although I don't have service in my house, it improves as I get closer to Charlottesville (where I a great deal of time), so I put up with it.

When I first ran across The Wi-Ex zBoost YX510 cell phone signal booster system, it looked like a good solution for me. I also saw a demonstration of it recently, and was impressed at how well it improved the signal strength. The system consists of three basic components. It includes an antenna that mounts wherever your cell phone reception is strongest. The antenna connects -- via a coaxial cable -- to an indoor amplifier base unit. This unit has its own little antenna, which broadcasts the signal throughout your house.

If you get three bars in corner of your house, but one bar everywhere else, this can keep you at three bars throughout your residence. Seemed like a great gift for our family -- until I conducted my own little test.

In our house I couldn't get more than one bar -- anywhere. Good thing I checked.

As the holiday season ramps up the frenzy, keep this thought in mind. If you're looking at any kind of consumer electronics, check to make sure it will work for you before purchasing. Whether it's taking five minutes to measure the size of your A/V cabinet before buying a TV, or checking cell phone reception as I did, it will save you some headaches later on – even if the store does have a liberal return policy.

- Ralph

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