Back in December, I installed and setup the Winegard ConnecT RV WiFi booster on our Keystone Cougar fifth wheel trailer. Now 5 1/2 months later I’m ready to put out my review. Why so long? I wanted to make sure I used the ConnecT in many different locations and scenarios.
Also, I was eager to check out its operation at the RV Park where we spend summer. Since we have spent the last three seasons here, I have a good feel for the WiFi signal reception we see without a booster. After three weeks using the ConnecT WiFi extender here I have to say I’m extremely pleased.
Disclaimer: Although I received no monetary compensation for my review, I did receive a free review sample of the Winegard ConnecT courtesy of Winegard.com – Ray
We use two different sources of WiFi here. One is the RV parks own WiFi system which puts out a powerful signal since the broadcast antenna is on a pole right in front of our trailer. However, the second source is a citywide free hotspot much further away. In past years reception was erratic and slow, especially for devices like our smartphones and tablets. My large 17″ laptop and Anne’s iMac fair a little better but still not great.
Now that we have the Winegard ConnecT system installed I have it connected to the distant city hotspot WiFi. It’s long range antennas pull in the signal, and it gets rebroadcasted inside the RV. Speed and stability are vastly improved. I’m able to stream audio/video content on all our devices and web page loading is snappy. I’m happy we now have a viable second WiFi option for when the RV parks WiFi gets overloaded during busy times.
I did try it on the strong RV park WiFi too, but rather than speeding it up; it became slower. I’ve found that to be the case on any signals that were already super powerful without the booster. I imagine the WiFi extender introduces some overhead as it processes the signal.
How Have I Used the Winegard ConnecT?
Other than in the scenario I just painted we found the ConnecT booster helped out a bunch when overnighting at casinos and parked in friends driveways. The WiFi extender reached out and grabbed the weak signals improving our connection. We were able to save on cellular data fees by utilizing free WiFi.
Sharing a connection was another big feature I liked. Many campgrounds will give just one WiFi access code to use. By using it for Winegard ConnecT, we could then have all our devices online through it. Nowadays all I do is connect up Winegard system, and I know all our devices will be online since they have the Winegard in memory. No more setting up each device when we hit a new WiFi source.
Winegard ConnecT Likes and Dislikes
Simple to Install – Installation was straightforward and easily accomplished by any moderately handy person. The biggest challenge is to find a way to run the wire from the external antenna into the RV interior area. I chose access through the refrigerator vent, and it worked out well. I liked that the outside antenna amp is powered over the Ethernet signal cable.
External Antenna Design – I like the flat roof mounting of the Winegard Connect’s external antenna package. Makes for a sleek looking install and gives many options of where to locate it on the roof.
Easy to Setup – The software setup is minimal done through a web browser on a computer or smartphone. There are only a few screens to deal with. Setup includes assigning SSID name, the password for the internal LAN router, updating the firmware if required, and a few admin functions. Once set all that is required at a new campsite is to scan for nearby WiFi access points and enter the password and/or access code. (There is also some built-in help with a support phone #, email address and a page of FAQs)
Helps with Mobile Devices – I found the Winegard ConnecT was most beneficial for our smartphones and tablets. Since they have a smaller antenna, they require a stronger signal versus our larger computers. In many places that my smartphone couldn’t connect on its own, I was able to with the aid of the Winegard ConnecT.
Connection Sharing, One Device to Setup – Love this feature! All our devices have now memorized our ConnecT’s SSID; we called it Hummingbird. Once I connect Hummingbird to a new WiFi access point, all our devices are online as they usually connect automatically to Hummingbird. We can also share data between our devices on the private local network the Winegard ConnecT provides.
Firmware Upgrades – The Winegard ConnecT WiFi extender can upgrade its firmware to add new features and fix bugs. So far there has been a couple of updates, and the installation was trouble free and easy to do right in the web browser admin interface.
Extra Security – There are several security advantages by using the ConnecT versus connecting straight to a WiFi access point.
- Always secure. Set-up your secure network once and you are done.
- ConnecT Advanced WiFi protected access (WPA and WPA2 – PSK).
- Guest Network Access – Separate and secure.
- Double Firewall protection (SPI and NAT.)
- Denial-of-service (DoS) attack prevention.
Reputable Manufacturer – Winegard is a USA based company with a long history in the RV industry making TV antenna and satellite systems.
No 12-volt Adapter – I was surprised a 12-volt power option wasn’t included. We dry camp a lot without AC hookups. I would have thought a company that makes RV products would have thought about this. I solved this problem by installing a 12 to 24 volt DC to DC converter. It’s worked flawlessly.
Limited Features – Many technical geeks will be disappointed by the lack of features and settings compared to other well-known brands in the same niche. One feature that’s missing is the ability to tether a cellular device through a USB port.
Poor Documentation – The manual is very basic, and the online support videos are simplistic.
Expensive – The consensus of myself and folks I’ve corresponded with on and offline is the Winegard ConnecT is overpriced for what it does.
ConnecT RV WiFi Extender Review Video
Final Conclusions and Opinion
The Winegard ConnecT RV Wifi Extender has served us well over the last 5 1/2 months of RV travel. It’s made it quick and easy to get all our devices connected to a WiFi access point. I am happy with the extra internet speed and stable connections it has provided. Would I have paid the $549 to purchase one? Honestly not likely. In my mind, it is worth around 300 dollars. For the money, I would expect something a bit more feature rich with more range.
The ConnecT’s best quality is simplicity. For folks who desire an easy to setup and use WiFi extender in an attractive package the ConnecT booster maybe for you. Just be prepared to pay a bit of a premium for it.