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Reviews

JDTeck JD55-PR Cellular Repeater

By Russ Smith July 7, 2005, 12:00 am

INTRODUCTION

    One of the great things about
cellular phones is that you can now use them nearly anywhere.  One
of the annoying things about cellular phones is that “nearly” in the
sentance above.  Even with the best efforts of cellular carriers,
you will still find “holes” where reception is either very weak or
nonexistant.  At best, this is annoying.  At worst, when one
of those “holes” happens to be your home or place of work, it makes it
difficult or impossible to use your cell-phone.  Would it not be
great if you could “beef up” the reception in those spots.
    You could invest in one of those little foil “antennas”
that you paste on the back of your cell-phone, but only if you want to
spend your money on something that will not help a bit.  JDTeck’s
JD55-PR Cellular repeater costs a bit more than those foil antennas,
but it actually works.  Read on to find out just how well it works.

WHAT’S HOT

    JDTeck’s JD55-PR works with any
device that uses cellular carriers. 
That means it can enhance reception for BlackBerries and Pocket PCs
with built-in or add-on cellular radios as well as your dedicated
cell-phone.  JD55-PR amplifies signals coming in from the
cellular tower as well as signals going out from your cellular
device.  It supports three simultaneous cellular connections at
one time and enhances reception over a 800-1200 square foot area.

SETUP

Inside
the box you will find (clockwise from top-left) the outside antenna,
the repeater unit, mounting hardware, the inside antenna, the
installation manual, the outside antenna connector cable, and the power
supply.  (Tap any of these images for a full-size, high resolution
image.)

The
JD55-PR repeater unit comes packaged with two protective end caps
covering the outside and inside antenna connectors.

The
back of the unit has two metal “nibs” that connect to the wall mounting
hardware.

 The cable to the “outside” antenna (which
transmits and receives to/from the cellular tower) screws into the top
of the unit.  The “inside”
antenna (which transmits and receives to/from your cellular devices)
screws into one side of the repeater.

The
power connector connects to the other side of the repeater unit.

   
In my testing, I actually installed the hardware in three different
locations (more on that later).  In each case the hardware was
installed easily and quickly.  The longest part of the
installation was stringing the cable between the outside antenna and
the repeater unit.  In no case did the installation time exceed 15
minutes.

Once
the hardware is placed and connected, there is only one adjustment that
may be required:  If the “Alarm” LED lights during use, there is a
recessed set of two switches on the bottom of the repeater unit that
allow you to adjust the amplification downward.  You can decrease
the amplification by 4, 8, or 12dB.  The device comes set for full
amplification (55dB) which should work without adjustment in most
applications.

PRODUCT
FEATURES

    I tested the JD55-PR repeater in three different
application areas.  The first area was in my home office. 
That office is located near a grounded metal-clad roof on our front
porch.  This has caused some difficulty with cellular reception in
the past.  My current cellular carrier manages to “punch through,”
but only at one to two bars.  After installing the JD55-PR
repeater with the outside antenna located on a peak of the roof, I
consistently got a full five bars.
    The second application area was at my church. 
The church building is located in one of the aforementioned “holes.”  My
cellular carrier barely pushes one bar while users of other carriers have to
walk to the corner to get anything at all. 
Again, I installed the outside antenna on a peak of the roof.  I
actually installed the hardware without telling anyone and was
pleasantly surprised to hear “Hey! I’ve got a signal” from a number of
folks when they attempted to call home after a recent meeting. 
The only possible drawback in this scenario is that there may be more
simultaneously attempted connections than the three the repeater can
currently handle.
   
The final scenario was in the basement offices of a friend where
cellular connections were previously impossible, thanks in part to the
steel construction of the building.  By placing the outside
antenna (as you might guess) on the outside of the building and
connecting to the repeater inside, cellular
connections not only became possible, but the signal strength was
excellent.  The company IT guy was very impressed and quickly
jotted down JDTech’s web address.

Continue
On: Comparison / Bugs and Wishes / Pros and Cons / Conclusion .
. .

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HELP
SUPPORT

    The JD55-PR hardware comes with a
minimal installation guide, however, the device is amazingly easy to
install and the guide contains all the information you need to do
so.  In additon JDTeck has a Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQ) and Tech info page on the web site.  The main page for the JD55-PR hardware on the web site has links to features and benefits,
installation options, specifications.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

    The model we tested enhances CDMA, TDMA, AMPS, DCS, GSM, and
PCS reception.  There are other models available from JDTeck for
other cellular systems.  Because the
device is a hardware repeater, it makes no difference what information,
protocol, or carrier you use it with as long as that carrier uses one
of the above.

COMPARISON

    pocketnow has reviewed two products in competition with the
JD55-PR repeaters in recent months.  The SpotWave
Spot Cell Home Indoor Cellular Coverage System and the Wireless
Extenders YX500-PCS are both repeaters as is the JD55-PR.  Each of
these devices uses two antennae, one which transmits to and receives from the
nearest cellular tower and one which transmits to and receives from your cellular
device(s).  All of the devices are FCC approved.
    At $365, the JD55-PR is $65 more than the YX500-PCS, but it provides
support for a wider range of cellular systems.  As the name implies, the
YX500-PCS supports only PCS (1900MHz) networks while the JD55-PR system supports
both the 800MHz and 1900MHz cellular bands.  (Wireless Extenders is currently
working on similar products for Nextel and other cellular systems.)  The
JD55-PR and YX500-PCS offer roughly the same amplification (55dB for JD55-PR
and 60dB for the YX500-PCS).  However, the YX500-PCS specifies a coverage
of up to 2500 square feet where the JD55-PR specifies about half of that.
    Like the JD55-PR, the Spot Cell system supports both 1900MHz
(PCS) and 800MHz cellular bands, but the Spot Cell system is priced at more than
double the price of the JD55-PR system ($365 for JD55-PR and $995 for Spot
Cell).  For
the extra price you do get considerably more range.  The JD55-PR covers
800-1200 square feet to the SpotCell’s 5000 square feet.  It should be
noted, however, that JDTeck has another
model, which sells for $645, which covers 4000-6000 square feet and supports
up to 20 simultaneous calls.  You end up getting the same coverage for less
from JDTeck.  The Spot Cell system does offer more amplification (96dB downlink/86dB
uplink to JDTeck’s 55dB-65dB).
    While all three companies offer several optional add-ons to
boost the range further, Wireless Extenders appears to only offer the YX500 base
hardware, but both SpotWave and JDTeck offer other base hardware for wider-range
applications.  In addition, JDTech also offers a lower-cost set of cellular “boosters.”  You
should also note that Wireless Extenders and JDTeck sell directly to the end-user.  SpotWave
Spot Cell sells directly to wireless carriers so end-users will have to contact
their cellular provider to see if they can provide Spot Cell products.

BUGS AND WISHES

   
The
JD55-PR hardware worked flawlessly in my tests.  My
only wish was that JDTech would come up with a smaller repeater, at a
lower price-point, for home office use.

PURCHASING

   
You can buy
JD55-PR Cellular
Repeater for $365.00
directly from JDTech. 
It is covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 12-month
manufacturer’s defect warranty.  If you are aware of a better
price, contact us and we
will post the new information.  In addition to the most common
installation hardware, which is included with the repeater, JDTech has
a number of additional installation options available on the web site.
    The unit is pricey, but it performs on a scale that
lower-priced cellular reception enhancer’s can not match.  It is
worth the money, but the price places it out of reach for the small
office/home office (SOHO) market.

PROS


  • Works with a wide
    variety of cellular systems


  • Works with any
    cellular device that can connect to the supported systems


  • Amplifies both
    ingoing and outgoing signals up to 55dB


  • Supports three
    simultaneous cellular connections


  • Amplification covers
    an 800 to 1200 square foot area


  • Covered by a 30-day
    money-back guarantee and a 12-month warranty

CONS


  • Priced too high for
    SOHO or personal use

Value
Ease of Use
Features

Overall

What do these
ratings mean?

OVERALL
IMPRESSION

    JDTeck’s JD55-PR Cellular Repeater
is easy to install and works without attention once it is set up. 
It provides excellent enhancement of cellular reception over a variety
of networks.  It is not limited to a single carrier or
protocol.  However, priced at $365 and above, it is decidedly
aimed at the enterprise market and not the casual user.
    If your business is looking to enhance cellular
reception throughout a specific area, you owe it to yourself to take a
look at JDTech’s JD55-PR hardware.  For smaller areas and
smaller budgets, I suggest you look at JDTech’s Cellular Booster
products instead.

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