LAS VEGAS, CES 2013 – Unless you’ve got a bizarre predilection for robophilia, there’s nothing exotic about cellular antenna boosters, but we stopped by Wilson Electronic’s booth at CES Unveiled last night to take a look at their latest booster anyway: a cradle for your car that can amp any 4G signal up to five bar status, even when you’re zooming down the causeway.
The way antenna boosters that you would install in a location like a home or an office work is a combination of line-of-sight and good old “turn it up to 11” amplification. Essentially, you tether a rebroadcast staton in your own home with a small antenna you put high up in your office, like a roof. The antenna gets better line-of-sight to the nearest tower, allowing your signal to get to you without being thrown off track by nearby buildings, while the station bounces the signal around in its innards a few dozen times to refine it, then squirts it back out to your smartphone.
Easy. The problem with antenna boosters in cars, though, is they aren’t any higher off the ground than your smartphone is. That means that the hardware needs to work overtime to amp up the signal’s potency.
The Sleek 4G by Wilson Electronics is like a weapons-grade plutonium refinery for your car, except it refines 4G signals instead. You place an antenna on your roof, plug the station into your cigarette lighter, and you’re off to the races, pulling in significantly more powerful 4G signals no matter where you are, and regardless of your network: LTE, WiMax or fake 4G, otherwise known as HSPA+.
The Wilson representatives I spoke to said that the Sleek 4G would be available in the next couple of weeks.