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weBoost Drive 4G-X RV cell signal booster test, review & installation

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We're now finally on the road full-time (!) but last week as we were preparing to depart, we finally sucked it up and dropped $500 on a weBoost cell phone signal booster for the RV. We decided to video the whole process, from unboxing to thoroughly testing the unit to see precisely how much it improved our signal, and finally through our entire installation process. If you're interested, check it out on YouTube:

 



If you're considering a booster, feel free to hit me up with any questions, and I'll do my best to help out. 

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2 minutes ago, rynosback said:

Do we get the quick answer?  Does it work?  Is it worth the $$$?

Sure! Yes it works, and works remarkably well -- I actually show the quantitative improvement in signal in dBm in the video. My driveway is essentially a dead zone and it gave me an excellent 4G signal. And the install went exceptionally well, taking three hours total (and I'm not the most handy guy in the world).

As far as being worth the money, well that depends on a bunch of things including your own financial situation and the amount that you'd be using and/or needing it. If you're a full-timer who works from the road and prefers to boondock in remote locations, I'd say it's a must. If you're a weekender who only goes camping a few times a year and doesn't care about connectivity, I can't see spending $500. 

Edited by Grand Adventure

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For those that prefer non-streaming info... Technomadia did a comprehensive review on the weBoost 4G-X about a year ago and updates their articles as new information becomes available.

Additional booster options for comparison can be found on their mobile cellular boosters page.

Edited by Yarome

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3 hours ago, markandkim said:

But this is not technomadias thread.

I must have missed the memo where comments and links to additional information on a thread topic are restricted to the content referenced by the OP... or that it's perfectly alright to use the forum simply to drive traffic to a youtube channel (monetized?) or personal blog (not matter how informative) without contributing any meaningful content or discussion on the forum itself.

Ie., a full write-up with additional details and information available on exterior links, if one so desires... not required.

As far as I know, it is perfectly acceptable to place a link to your personal website indexing your contributions on a particular subject or blog in your signature line. Creating a thread solely to advertise a new video you just put out, a new entry in your blog or a product or service you represent, though, is not appropriate, IMHO.

 I believe that is why it is called a "forum" instead of a "billboard". 🤣

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Sadly, this seems to be the way of the world,  these days. Throw a link on every forum out there, announcing to the world, "Here's my new thing". Technomadia used to participate a lot more, before they went so heavily monetized. I would like to see Grand Adventure do more than a YouTube video, but unless I start my own channel, I  can't complain. 

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I'm reluctant to get into this, but what the hell, here goes. No, my channel is not currently monetized - YouTube's change in requirements kept it from being so, at least for now. Do I hope that some day the channel will be self sustaining? Of course I do (especially after quitting my job to hit the road)! But currently I'm losing my financial shirt on it. I create the videos because I want to share my love of RV life, and as photography and videography are hobbies it allow me to marry those hobbies with my love of RVing. Of course I share here because I want to share the videos I create as broadly as possible -- it may be hard to believe, but I'm actually proud of them. But do I have some kind of ulterior motive? Sorry to disappoint, but no I do not.

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5 hours ago, Grand Adventure said:

I'm reluctant to get into this, but what the hell, here goes.

I hope that some day the channel will be self sustaining? Of course I do...

...and as photography and videography are hobbies...

Of course I share here because I want to share the videos I create as broadly as possible...

But do I have some kind of ulterior motive? Sorry to disappoint, but no I do not.

I don't know why you would be reluctant... since you "are" the OP and continue to self promote your youtube channel... however well intentioned. Self sustaining? It's free to post youtube videos, isn't it? You mean... make enough money from the channel to support your hobby? Wouldn't we "all" love our hobbies to be self supporting! Unfortunately, most must be satisfied with funding our hobbies from our pockets for the sheer joy/satisfaction that it brings us. Typically, the "nature of the beast" when it comes to hobbies.

As I "read" that... your motive seems extremely well put. You love videography. You're proud of the videos you've done and want to share them as broadly as possible... with the hope that they will help, at some point and time, to offset the cost of supporting your hobby.  You love RV'ing so that seems the most logical "marriage" to express your passion.

I appreciate your love of RV'ing. It's safe to say that we "all" do. The want to share something we are proud of is natural, however, there are more appropriate venues for self promoting personal passions (videography) other than a dedicated discussion forum (ie., personal website, facebook, etc.).

Simply posting a notice to an offsite link though gives the appearance that it's "more" about the videography and youtube channel than the actual sharing of information. At the very least... contribute the meaningful points that others may benefit from or that will spark a discussion... with links if anyone desires to "click" for more.

It's also important to remember than many "on the road" may use metered cellular data plans or... none too inexpensive... satellite internet. If we wanted to digest information in streaming video form... we would be on YouTube. 😉

'nuff said.

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Thanks for coming back. I do appreciate the work involved in making money off a YouTube channel, most of them are a money loss. 

This discussion is what I miss about the old forum days. Thank you. 

Back to Yarome's comment about video posts vs. text based, due to the nature of this lifestyle, people don't always have high speed data, or high volume contracts. When we travel to the US, I  seldom watch video, due to the expense. I will stay in touch via text based boards, such as this one. 

Good discussion. 

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I also seldom watch videos but not only because of limited bandwidth when traveling.  I digest information better and at a much faster rate reading the info rather than watching some video.  Now this comment does not apply to the OP but there are so many supposedly informative videos out there that are terrible.  Out of focus, jittery, bad lighting, dead space, etc. Most of them I can only watch a few seconds before giving up.  

I would suggest to add a condensed form of the information presented in the video in a written form.  Also if you choose to do that  please proofread your text.  

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If the booster gives a signal when there is none without it than the benefit is pretty obvious. I am not an expert, but one thing I rarely see mentioned in the discussions of cellular boosters is the fact that many are repeaters, which by their very nature of introducing another hop in the signal chain, will decrease the speed of the connection. I have seen recommendations to always speed test to compare with and without the booster, but the why is rarely mentioned. In my experience, using a Sleek the speed without it is faster than with it if my phone shows a signal strength of -110db or stronger.  Tethering the cellular device to a router and then connecting to the router by ethernet produces faster speeds than connecting to the cellular device or router wirelessly. It seems to me that the best combination of enhanced signal and improved speed would be achieved by an inline amplifier. This would require a cellular devise capable of connecting an external antennae. If the device was a cellphone or hotspot, I would also want to be able to tether it to a router as I have ethernet cable from the router location to the computer locations.

A comment about the Technomadia website. In my opinion, the most useful information requires a paid membership.

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8 hours ago, Grand Adventure said:

 But currently I'm losing my financial shirt on it.

It costs you money to make a video? Where exactly are you losing money to play with your video camera and editing software? You no longer work. (Nor do I.) You have nothing BUT time. Shooting video and editing it on your computer costs zero. Nor does uploading it to youtube.

I am just confused by your assertion that you are losing money. I have a youtube channel as well, shared only with friends, and that will never be monetized because I will never have followers. It's my way to share interesting (in my opinion, anyway) things with a select handful. Right now it is just a bunch of verbal essays about how bad the world and most of the people in it both suck.

As far as "after quitting my job", well, if that move badly stresses you financially, maybe you shouldn't have done that yet.

I WILL give you props for the fact that you bought the product and didn't accept it as a bribe to give a good review like 99% of the youtube shills do. I will also give you props for knowing that the word is "losing" and not "loosing".  LOL!

Yarome makes a valid point. Any post that was only a link to youtube requires people on the road to use their always precious bandwidth to view your youtube and IS often self serving in that it drives up view count to create income. My preference is that I do not wish to fund other people's road trips so I watch very little youtube. I have never contributed to a Patreon, etc. If people want to be nomads and can't really afford it, well, that's their choice. If there are suckers willing to support them, that's the fault of said suckers. Otherwise they should get a fricking job and earn money honestly. People who claim that playing with their video camera is a "job" are annoying.

To topic, would it have been a huge thing to write up your review and post it in text?

Note that I don't care either way. I am not going to view your video either way, as I decided long ago that the product in question will be necessary at some point. I am not out full timing yet so it is not necessary right now. A wifi repeater with some boost mattered more in my case and I bought that first.

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Wow, this thread went off the rails quickly.  But it is all interesting. 

On the original topic, I am also glad you actually bought the unit and tested it.  Too many get freebies and can''t be trusted.  If I had more time and money to play with I would get a few of the boosters and test them.   I am not expecting to have the time, too much else to do, and I have many other demands on my money to spend it for such a project.

I prefer text for answers, due to bandwidth and time.  Time since so many videos run 10 minutes and have 30 seconds worth of information, if even that much.  I have been watching lots of making bread in bread machines videos and it has been painful.  Sloppy rambling videos, incomplete information, all the same issues that so many videos have.  

I have a Youtube channel, not monetized, that I do videos for fun.  I have 49 videos and actually have 43 subscribers.  I film them on the cameras, triipods and phones I already own and use a free video editing program, Microsoft Movie Maker, to make the videos.  No extra money spent, just time and disk space.  

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11 hours ago, TCW said:

If the booster gives a signal when there is none without it than the benefit is pretty obvious. 

It doesn't create signal where there is none. That's physically impossible. It provides a boost to what signal is there. I have seen reports of people going from a -110 db to -80 db, which is actually usable signal. One guy who tested actually drove to a place where he was too far from a tower and had no signal just to show that signal can't be created when there is none.

I don't know from your post of you think any signal amplifying device can create cell signal when there is none or not. It seems that you might from that opening line.

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12 minutes ago, eddie1261 said:

It doesn't create signal where there is none. That's physically impossible. It provides a boost to what signal is there. I have seen reports of people going from a -110 db to -80 db, which is actually usable signal. One guy who tested actually drove to a place where he was too far from a tower and had no signal just to show that signal can't be created when there is none.

I don't know from your post of you think any signal amplifying device can create cell signal when there is none or not. It seems that you might from that opening line.

Our Maximum Signal Max Amp has kept us online numerous times in places where our cell phones and hotspots found no detectable signal, including areas where the carriers own coverage maps said there was no service. Obviously, there was enough signal for the Max Amp to detect it though...

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3 hours ago, eddie1261 said:

...I don't know from your post of you think any signal amplifying device can create cell signal when there is none or not. It seems that you might from that opening line...

Bad wording on my part. What I should have said is that if use of the amplifier produces a usable single when there is not one without it, then the benefit is pretty obvious. I do not know at what db level my phone no longer shows a signal, but I do know that I have gotten a usable signal using the Sleek when the phone alone showed no service.

.

Edited by TCW

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8 minutes ago, TCW said:

Bad wording on my part. What I should have said is that if use of the amplifier produces a usable single when there is not one without it, then the benefit is pretty obvious. I do not know at what db level my phone no longer shows a signal, but I do know that I have gotten a usable signal using the Sleek when the phone alone showed no service.

.

In the video I show an unboosted signal of -117 dBm (-120dBm is a "dead zone"). With that, I was unable to even complete a speed test. In that same spot i got a boosted signal of -92 dBm and successfully ran a decent speed test.

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10 hours ago, TCW said:

I do not know at what db level my phone no longer shows a signal, but I do know that I have gotten a usable signal using the Sleek when the phone alone showed no service.

I'm no cellular guru, but that's been my understanding as well... useable signal is somewhat device specific... which makes sense since internal component sensetivities and transmission capability likely varies. "No signal" vs. no "usable" signal is splitting hairs.

Some boosters are able to pick up lower signals and boost them into "usable" range than others... like the Max Amp. I've seen that one work and provide very usable signal that my weBoost 4G-X can't even detect. A lot of factors go into my purchase choices though. 

In general, for the money and ease of use, I'm very pleased with my 4G-X and trucker antenna, but I have to wonder too how much really has to do with the antenna or combination thereof. Oddly enough... I can get vastly faster internet speeds using my Unite Explore and non-powered (un-"boosted") Netgear MIMO antenna plugged into it than I can using my weBoost. I've even had occassion where I can't voice or text, but I still have useable internet. That antenna cost me all of $23. Go 'figger!

I "do" think the weBoost or Max Amp are very much worth their cost for those that like to play in the fringes. Possibly more so for those that enjoy time in the West where cellular coverage is not as saturated(?) Over the past 20 months I've cut down on sat internet use by 40% and have saved countless hours of drive time and fuel making trips into a "signal" area to use the cell phone. It paid for itself by month 3 and, if I were to guesstimate, saves me somewhere in the neighborhood of $100-$125/month.

As for Technomadia... I've never had a paid subscription, but from what I understand... the paid area has the "latest and greatest" reviews (that get released to the public area at a later date... or at least in part), more how-to's, settings and more highly detailed technical information. I don't really need to know the low down on the newest release out there so the public area has been more than suitable for me. Specs, comparisons, unbias reviews/impressions from folks that have proven themselves to be trustworthy and knowledgeable under real world mobile conditions that mimic my own... priceless.

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28 minutes ago, Yarome said:

…I'm very pleased with my 4G-X and trucker antenna, but I have to wonder too how much really has to do with the antenna or combination thereof. Oddly enough... I can get vastly faster internet speeds using my Unite Explore and non-powered (un-"boosted") Netgear MIMO antenna plugged into it than I can using my weBoost. I've even had occassion where I can't voice or text, but I still have useable internet. That antenna cost me all of $23. Go 'figger!...

I do not claim to be an expert, but I think (as I mentioned in a previous post) this has to do with the fact that the WeBoost is a repeater i.e. receives the signal and retransmits it to the router, computer phone, etc. I do not think the WeBoost or Max Signal devices are two radio repeaters so they can not transmit and receive at the same time. As with WIFI, each additional hop in the system results in a decrease in speed.

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On 6/12/2018 at 11:11 AM, TCW said:

I do not claim to be an expert, but I think (as I mentioned in a previous post) this has to do with the fact that the WeBoost is a repeater i.e. receives the signal and retransmits it to the router, computer phone, etc.  I do not think the WeBoost or Max Signal devices are two radio repeaters so they can not transmit and receive at the same time. As with WIFI, each additional hop in the system results in a decrease in speed.

It is a repeater but provides an amplification of the signal. What you are saying about  hops is true to a degree, but the decrease in signal strength is not from the hop itself as much as the distance involved in the hop.  This is why you can sit in Maine and ping a web site in California and get different response times with every ping. It depends on the routing AT THE MOMENT as to how direct your path is. In the instance of your cell phone hitting the "chocolate bar" from the weBoost system, that distance will be less than 5 ft every time with one hop. And that hop will be exactly the same every time. As far as the transmit and receive part of your comment, the weBoost is not transmitting anything. Your phone is. There is a concept called handshaking that you learn in networking. That "handshake" between point A and point B is constant. Once you "join hands" there is no "rejoining of hands" until you break the session and reconnect it. In the case of an RV and a cell tower, consider this. In a perfect, pristine environment, with no line of site blockage and no interference, an LTE  cell tower can theoretically reach 45 miles. (22 miles for GSM.)  Theoretically. Now, in the real world, you NEVER have that pristine condition. Just watch how often your phone changes tower as you drive.

Real world, 4.5 to 5 miles is a good working distance to use for discussion. If you are parked 5 miles from the only tower in the area, you can expect minimal service. You'd likely see a reading of -115 to -110 decibels. Now add a booster like the weBoost, and that may become as good as -90 to -85. That is because of the amplification. Now, consider that "handshake" again. Once your weBoost finds that tower and makes the handshake, that part of the transaction is done. Your phone will  now send packets out THROUGH but not FROM the weBoost. The weBoost to tower is nothing more than a long and invisible piece of wire. Just as a point of reference, sitting in my house, in my office right now, my cell phone strength is -114. If I simply walk to the kitchen, 10 steps away and 10 steps closer to the tower, that jumps to -100. And I live 1720 ft from the tower I am hitting!!! Houses, trees, etc. At the top of my street, 1300 ft, and then 800 ft to the tower (because you travel at angles but signal is as the crow flies), I get -90. From 800 ft I am at -90. That weBoost, from my corner, would likely see that -90 become -70. (I do not own one yet.)

This is also why the ads on TV that make claims that this internet provider or that internet provider gives different levels of wifi coverage inside of a house. Those claims are 100% nonsense. The thickness of your walls and relative location of the wireless router is what determines the signal strength, not the internet provider. I remember when I had a Spectrum tech here and I knew more about this than he did, because back when I worked, I would have been the guy he called at the home office to do his troubleshootng.

Networking is networking, It is data packets going out and coming back in. Whether it is wifi (which at some ultimate point in the journey connects to a wired internet provider) or cellular data, the basic concepts do not change. All of these repeater/booster products are essentially the same thing. Some may provide more signal amplification, and those are the ones who as for $650 rather than $150. If you really want improvement, go to a directional antenna and aim it at your source. Directional will outperform omnidirectional every time because of focus. You just have to know how to locate the signal source and aim at it, which can also mean climbing onto your rood every time you set up. In my case, I am too old to be climbing onto the roof every time I park. And, and I can't stress this enough, I just don't want to.

So that was a long winded way of saying that your position relative to the tower is more important than which booster you use. There are great apps for all of this. As I am planning my trips I use those apps and Google maps to find cell towers, though I hope to use wifi much more than cellular. Even with unlimited data (which really isn't unlimited USABLE data) I prefer not to use data when not necessary.

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Our AT&T Connected Car Plan has certainly been "unlimited USABLE data" for us with some months exceeding 150GB. We've seen no significant speed reductions other than the expected temporary slow downs on busy towers that we've seen with every cell data service we've ever had during peak usage hours.

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25 minutes ago, Dutch_12078 said:

Our AT&T Connected Car Plan has certainly been "unlimited USABLE data"..... We've seen no significant speed reductions....

X2... as well as my sons covering multiple states. Not a one of them could "survive" under 200gb/month and have all reported no significant slowdowns, outages or buffering of any kind.

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What do you do with your cell data? Email? Banking? reading some news? Do you stream a lot of TV? Upload a lot of video? Send large files? You really can't do a lot of that at .6 mbps. I am well aware that users don't ALWAYS see slowdowns, that it doesn't say they WILL slow your stream down but that they MAY slow your stream down, and I know the difference between throttling and deprioritization, so spare me that lecture. I don't know how reliable cell data is anywhere but where I am, and how anybody else uses it. I am in a fairly major city with a lot of towers so I can stream all I want with my Verizon plan. I can actually see 3 towers from the top of my street so the users are scattered across several towers. But I am thinking of a time when I will be in a desert in New Mexico and possibly thousands of users are competing for traffic passing through one tower, and I anticipate there may be throttling. I do not want to pay a million dollars for satellite TV unless I absolutely have to, so my TV viewing will be largely through cellular data. I write songs that need to be sent to my engineer via file transfer. Those files are often 500mb and larger. On a throttles cell connection that will take hours. However, I am savvy enough to know that I should save those transactions for a time when I can snag wifi at McDonald's or somewhere. While boondocking, when cellular data is my only option, watching Live PD for 3 hours on Friday night will probably deplete my initial data allotment before I become a candidate for tower deprioritization. Again, not that it WILL happen, but it COULD.  If I suddenly get throttled with 4 minutes to go in a hockey game I am going to lose it.

More comes into play here than one person's report because people's usage requirements vary. Not just the amount of data, but the kind of data. I WOULD like to know who you use that you have never seen throttling.Your Car Connected plan is a dead soldier (and I wish people would quit talking about a product that is not sold any more - my 1969 Z-28 Camaro was a hot car but Chevy doesn't make 1969 Z-28 Camaros anymore. A plan no longer sold is the definition of "moot". ) and I can't get that. I also prefer Verizon's coverage map to AT&T's so I have Verizon. I suspect that those of you who talk of no throttling either don't use your data for streaming TV or spread your usage out across more lines. I have one  phone line and one Jetpack, essentially a second dedicated line. I really don't want to have to get DirecTV. Buying equipment, paying on a monthly plan, aiming dishes.... only as a last resort.

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