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Wilson readying low-cost universal cellular amp for vehicles

updated 06:25 am EDT, Fri October 9, 2009

Budget entry to company's quality accessories

Although Wilson Electronics has yet to formally announce its latest cellular amplifier, the company at CTIA previewed an upcoming device designed for vehicles, the U-Booster Sleek. Wilson's focus on quality and performance was highlighted in a recent review, although the high-end equipment typically carries a hefty price tag. The upcoming device retains the core functionality, but with a smaller form factor and a fraction of the cost.

Wilson's current universal product for vehicle installations consists of an antenna-equipped phone cradle attached to a separate amp. The amp then connects to a 12-inch exterior antenna. The 1.5W system provides 40-45dB of gain, although the $375 MSRP (~$300 street price) may be a deal breaker for many customers.

The company also offers an iBooster for the iPhone, which builds the amplifier into the cradle mount. The product costs slightly less than the universal option, with an MSRP of $280 (~$185 street price), although compatibility is limited to a single handset. A C-Booster is another option for the BlackBerry Curve.

The Sleek model also integrates the amplifier directly into the cradle mount. Surprisingly, the cradle is much smaller than its U-Booster predecessor despite the combination of both functions. Users can place their cellphone or MiFi router into the cradle to boost the signal. On the vehicle exterior, the 12-inch antenna is swapped for a mini version that is more attractive and less than 5-inches in height.

The only drawbacks to the U-Booster Sleek involve the signal gain and device placement. While the current U-Booster provides 40-45dB gain, the Sleek will offer slightly less amplification. The previous model also allowed users to hold the handset near the cradle without inhibiting the signal amplification, while the upcoming version requires the phone or router to always be placed on the pad.

Although pricing and detailed specs have yet to be announced, the Sleek is expected to be available for approximately $100. The company has reduced the price while still manufacturing the amplifier in St. George, Utah. Like Wilson's other products, each unit is individually tested before leaving the factory. The in-home amplifier, detailed in the review, was able to maintain data rates ten times faster on Verizon's wireless broadband network than without assistance. Stay tuned for further details and a full review.

by MacNN Staff



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