zBoost YX500 Wireless Extender

We’ve all heard or experienced the horror stories of bad reception on our iPhones. I even read a piece this week about college students protesting about their poor service from AT&T. Gee, I can remembered when college students protested about really important stuff like war and pollution and equal rights, but I guess it is all in your perspective. Considering what we pay for our iPhone plans, maybe protests about poor service aren’t so out of the question after all.

So when I was asked to review a zBoost cell phone signal extender I thought to myself, “oh yeah, let’s see what it can do”


zBoost YX500 Base Unit

The Basics

The review unit is a zBoost YX500 Base Unit
Manufacturer:  Wi-Ex
Price:  $299
Warranty:  1-year manufacturer warranty
Package Contents:

  • Manual
  • zBoost Base Unit
  • Antenna
  • 35 ft of Coaxial Cable
  • Power Supply
  • Signal antenna
  • Assorted Hardware

What Does It Do - According To Them

This unit is designed for consumers. It boost the signal for CEL/800MHz devices for single or multiple users in homes or offices. It increases indoor signal coverage up to 2500 square feet, supporting multiple users simultaneously. It increases voice and data transmission for U.S. phones or wireless data cards using CEL/800MHz frequencies and decreases dropped or missed calls. It does not connect to your phone in any way, and extends phone battery life because it uses less power when the signal is stronger.


There are three options for installation.  Each are explained in detail in the enclosed literature.

  • Inside by a window
  • Outside of a window
  • In an attic or other outside placement, such as on the roof

The third option offers the maximum possible signal boost, the first the minimum.

The Test Environment

As part of the work I do with our local Mac users group (CapMac), I have volunteered  time with our local Austin Texas public access TV station, ChannelAustin. They recently converted their entire operation to a Mac-only environment and our members helped with the conversion.  Because of that work I knew the cell phone reception in their building was poor to nonexistent throughout their 1500 square foot building.

The building has a tin roof so the roof and attic were not good placement options. We elected to put the base unit in one of the few rooms with a window, but selected a window that faced a tower. The unit went on a file cabinet and the antenna was fastened to the woodwork around the window, inside the building. It took about 10 minutes to set it up. Most of that time was securing the cable so it was out of the way.

Location of zBoost Unit

What Does It do - According To Us

What it does according to us is work. The large and small TV studios have no windows and contain cameras and wall padding. Prior to the installation of the zBoost there was no cell phone coverage at all in those rooms. We were able to get 4 bars following the installation.

4 Bars Following Installation of zBoost Unit

The same was true of the closet where all the electronic equipment is kept. Before installation there was 0 bars, after installation there were 4. This was true for everyone in the building at the time who had a cell phone and tried. We also made calls from those areas and had excellent reception on each end of the call. At the front of the building, where there are some windows and people have sometimes been able to get 2 bars on their phones, everyone was also able to consistently get and hold 4 bars.

We tried one last test of the zBoost. We were curious about upload and download time and ran a test for that because it has been extremely slow in the station. Below is an image of the results.

Download/Upload Results

The Bottom Line

The zBoost is designed increases indoor signal coverage for cell phones up to 2500 square feet, supporting multiple users simultaneously. From our evaluations it is doing exactly that. It has continued to perform consistently since installation. Installation was simple and quick and everything we needed was included in the box.

Product: zBoost YX500 Base Unit

Company: Wi-Ex

List Price: $299

Vendor Price: $192.98



Increases indoor signal for cell phone coverage in buildings up to 2500 square feet, supporting multiple users simultaneously.


None noted.