SureCall EZ 4G review: Say no to dead zones!

Working in downtown Chicago has its advantages. My office on the 40th floor offers wonderful views of the city and the lake, and at night, the lights extend all the way out to the suburbs. Yes, sir, working downtown can be an oasis of peace. But if that’s the case, it’s only because downtown Chicago is also a desert of cellular connectivity.

Funny thing about cell signals – they don’t like buildings, which downtown Chicago has a ton of. Even 400 feet above the pavement, cellular signals can be hard to come by if you don’t know where to look. But putting downtown aside, just about every house, office, or other building has a “Dead zone” or a wasteland of signal. Maybe you have to answer the phone and run over to the kitchen, lest you drop a call. In the case of my office, it’s the far northeast corner where the signal is strongest.

Enter the dead zone

Regardless of your situation it’s likely that a product like SureCall can help. The SureCall EZ 4G is a cell signal booster that relays cellular signals – voice and data – from the best place in the house, to the worst place in the house, helping to fill the dead spots in your home or office. I had the opportunity to test out SureCall’s technology first hand to see what it was like.

Starting off, you need to outline the basic components that make the booster work. There’s a receiving dish (called a signal booster) that grabs the signal coming in from the outside. You’ll want to place this dish in the best possible place to get the best signal. Then, there’s the tabletop antenna which repeats that signal into the dead spot in the area, filling the gap. Running between the two is a coaxial cable that transmits the signal. You may not be aware of this, but electricity runs better through copper than it does through air, so the coaxial cable is a key component here. There is also a power connector that attaches to the receiver, which means wherever you get the best signal, you better hope you also have power there.

Too much like work

The setup of the device is a bit intimidating, to be perfectly honest. When you open the box, you see a giant receiver and a big coil of wire. Also included are some hardware to help you run the cables and keep things tidy, which is nice. The receiver can either bet set up on a stand, or affixed to a window with double sided adhesive. We opted for the stand ourselves. From there, once the unit is powered on, it needs to be registered with your carrier so you can have their consent. Most carriers allow the use of signal boosters, but it’s better to call, just in case.

But once it’s up and running it does what it says it does. Suddenly, I didn’t have to scurry to a forgotten corner of the office when my wife called. After years of wearing down the carpet in that one corner of the room, I was finally able to take phone calls from my desk and actually get work done. Crazy concept, I know. So, the product worked exactly as expected. And there are a couple of bigger benefits that I didn’t realize at first.

Versus MicroCell

One other solution to having bad signal is to get MicroCell. At home, I have one from AT&T. I finally pried it out of their cold hands after four years of complaining about my basement. That also does wonders for my productivity while working at home. It benefits my wife as well. But MicroCells have two big limitations working against them. First, they’re carrier specific. And even more than that, they’re phone number specific. So, if you have friends over, even if they use the same carrier, they won’t be able to benefit from the MicroCell.

The SureCall signal booster has no such restriction. In fact, multiple carriers work off it as well. It makes sense when you think about it – a signal booster will boost any signal it finds. As a result, my office was suddenly more accessible for the T-Mobile and Verizon users in my office as well as AT&T users. It bears repeating that though you are supposed to contact the carrier you’re using, it’s not necessary to contact every carrier. It’s a weird distinction, I know, but the booster works for all carrier signals simultaneously.

There’s always a but…

However, there are two downsides to this system. The first is the aforementioned setup of the system. You need to run cables, you need to have power, etc. It can be a bit of an issue. In my office, the corner we’ve talked so much about has no outlet within 30 feet, so an extension cord was necessary – more cables to run. Yuck.

Second, and most important – a signal booster can only work with what is available. If your home or office gets no signal anywhere, you will be out of luck. If you get a phone call and have to run outside to the front yard, a signal booster probably will not help you. It will take the same garbage signal you get from your kitchen and broadcast that garbage signal all over the house. Similarly, the same corner of the office that helps AT&T customers won’t necessarily help T-Mobile customers. The booster can only work with what it has. So, the SureCall EZ 4G does not necessarily solve all problems.

But, if you’re like me and you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, this is a solid product that delivers on its promise. Signal problems can be a real headache for mobile users and SureCall sets out to solve those problems. My office is a happier place because of it. Maybe yours can be too.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!