SureCall EZ 4G for the home (or office) that may have everything – well, everything but a decent strength cell signal for smart phones and other devices.
In our review we will first provide highlights, some back story on how this review came about, and then get into the actual performance of the SureCall EZ 4G, as well as what’s involved in setting it up to use it. We’ll finish with a list of Pros and Cons
Whether use the “phone” company’s cell tower primarily for voice, and at times, data, (relying on your home’s Wifi most of the time for data) or we are getting internet access for your entire home from cell towers, many of us folks have to deal with weak signal strength.
Is the weak signal from your favorite cell provider – be it AT&T, Verizon, etc., driving you crazy with dropped calls, and perhaps even far worse for some – almost impossibly slow and unreliable data communications?
The SureCall EZ 4G is an interesting booster that can work indoors or out. It has a list price of $399, and will be shipping by the time you read this, Per SureCall, this brand new product will be available online, including Amazon, and in some Big Box houses (big box houses are folks like Best Buy, Target, Walmart – for those of you not sure of the term.)
Basically the EZ 4G is a round (dish) antenna finished in an attractive silver. It looks pretty cool for an antenna (booster) as its designed to be inside (or outside). Inside, typically in front of a window, it has to look reasonably good. The dish measures 13 inches diameter. Not really large, but then not invisible. That’s OK, because, as I said, it has some style.
This one works a bit different than my five year old one (which is a one piece that sits outside.) There are two key pieces – the dish antenna itself with the powered electronics inside it, and a much smaller “omni” antenna to be placed close to where signal strength is needed.
I’ll tell you right now, that it my case, it definitely solved the problem it was built to tackle. I figure it earns one of our Pretty Darn Cool awards for that.
SureCall EZ 4G Booster Highlights
EZ 4G Booster Highlights
- Designed for small apartments, condos, or areas within a larger home with very weak cell signals
- Does not need to be placed outside
- Let’s you place smaller (tethered) omni antenna close to where you need the signal boost (includes 50 feet of cable)
- Can boost signal strength by more than 20db – a 20 db increase is about a 100 fold boost!
- $399 List price. Product is brand new (2/2016) no signs of discounting yet
- Available online and from big box houses
- First shipments – Jan. 2016
Personally, I have previous experience with boosters. I have an old (AT&T specific) booster outdoors at my house since I moved in back in 2010. Where I live, the service from AT&T was pretty weak back then. The booster really helped, especially dramatically reducing dropped calls. AT&T has since improved coverage in my area, and recently I unplugged the one at my house briefly. I discovered that while I now had a good strength signal, and could get by without the booster, with only a minor affect – an only occasional dropped call, compared to almost no dropped calls with my old booster on.
Unlike my old outdoor booster, the SureCall EZ 4G is not specific to one network such as AT&T or Sprint or Verizon.
The Story Behind Doing This Review
Before I get into my relatively brief experience reviewing the SureCall EZ4G, here’s some background as to why I’m reviewing it on SmarterHomeAutomation.com. After all, it’s not a connected device – not unless you are relying on cell as your primary access to the internet, or as a backup if your cable or other internet goes down.
My mom lives in Florida, in an independent living facility with absolutely abysmal cell coverage. Calls are dropped way too often. A bigger problem is, that many calls would go to VoiceMail without the phone ringing, because the phone just isn’t connecting properly. More often than not when I call her, I’ll hear it ring on my end 3-4 times and get voicemail. Mom will say either: “It never rang” or “It rang only once then went to voicemail. For that reason she relies mostly on a landline instead of her iPhone.
Now understand, my mom has vision problems so that she can’t really read a computer screen, or a Kindle, iPad etc., so she has no practical use for Wifi (she mostly uses voice/Siri to work her phone). Wifi in her place costs something like $50+ a month, so it makes no sense for her.
The weak cell signal becomes a real problem when I, and other relatives come and need to use their computers, phones and tablets. I get a lot of time to write my reviews when I fly out to visit my mom! Working online proves to be near impossible without a booster. An email with a 8 megabyte photo can take 20 minutes to upload. Using WordPress to write for my site is just plain impossible. Even just trying to view a typical webpage such as CNN, can take up to 2 or 3 minutes!
So, short of spending my days at a Starbucks, a real solution was needed.
January 2016 found me (as usual) attending the CES show in Las Vegas. In the course of checking out all the “home automation” and other gadgets, I saw SureCall’s booth and decided to chat with them.
I explained to them the situation (above), as I just told it to you. I offered to bring in an EZ 4G, install it at my Mom’s, experiment with it while I was visiting for most of a week, and review it. They liked the idea, the biggest issue was that this was a product being announced at the show, and production units weren’t going to be available until late January.
Well, things worked out just fine.
They were able to ship out to Florida one of the first units. I had 3 full days to work with it. When I say one of the first units, in rushing it to me because of my time constraints, they had to ship it without documentation. I was, however, able to download the EZ 4G user manual from their website.
On our next page we’ll continue starting with a report how it performed, including comparing times to upload files to an online file transfer service, without, and then with the EZ 4G. Impressive!