Recently, I installed a Wi-Ex ( the zBoost Metro YX540iP iPhone Signal Booster in my home to improve cell phone reception for my Verizon network. It added an extra bar to my signal, but your results may vary. More on that later.

The US$299.99 zBoost Metro YX540iP is optimized for use with the iPhone. It includes a US$15 gift card for Apple’s online stores (a nice touch) and a zBoost Your Business Application Guide featuring iPhone and iPad apps for the business user or teleworker on the go. Designed for use in a single-story urban living building, it’s designed to boost the indoor signal for multiple users operating any mobile device that operates on the 800 and 1900MHz frequencies including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Sprint.

In an ideal world, the zBoost Metro YX540iP iPhone Signal Booster can boost your signal up to 1,500 square feet. The package includes everything you need: amplifier base unit, power supply, base unit antenna, coaxial cable (RG59-mini), signal antenna and mounting hardware. The wide radio wave beam width directional antenna receives signals from multiple cell towers.

Before placing a zBoost in your home, make sure that you can place calls near the window or wherever you plan to place the Signal Antenna. zBoost can only bring signal into your home when the signal reaches the Signal Antenna.

Using your cell phone, place a call near this location to confirm that enough signal is present to complete the call. If you can reliably make and receive calls at that location then the zBoost can bring the signal into your home. If only one signal bar is displayed on your cell phone, indoor coverage will be limited to one small room.

To set things up, place the Signal Antenna on the interior of a window located in the area of the best signal (which will require some experimental on your part). Determine the location that provides the strongest signal using the signal strength indicator on your cell phone. Find the location on the window that provides the most bars of signal strength.

Before proceeding, make sure that the intended surface is clean and clear of any dust. Then choose the suction cup attachments appropriate for your setting (short or long), fasten to the Signal Antenna, and secure to your window.

In order to capture the strongest signal, you may do one or all of the following:

° Move the antenna around the window — higher is usually better.

° Use the long suction cup attachments provided, in order to create a greater angle in which to capture the signal. The suction cups must be vertical on the window.

° For best performance keep the Signal Antenna two feet from any metal.

Place the ZBoost Base Unit where you want to create a cell zone.

Connect the Base Unit Antenna and coax to the Base Unit and place it where you need signal. For the widest possible signal area, it’s recommended that you position the Base Unit near the middle of a room or mount it on an interior wall.

This Base Unit uses an omni-directional antenna that delivers signal in a circular pattern around the antenna. The zBoost Metro doesnt’ require vertical separation; however, the Signal Antenna and Base Unit Antenna should have at least eight feet of horizontal separation. Increasing separation of the two antennas will optimize zBoost performance.

The Base Unit can be mounted either directly on a wall or placed on a flat surface. The zBoost Metro performs best when there are no obstructions between the zBoost Base Unit and your mobile device.

Run the provided coaxial cable between the Base Unit and Signal Antenna. Use the provided RG-59(mini) coaxial cable to connect the Signal Antenna and the Base Unit. Coaxial connections can loosen when the cable is moved. Be sure the connections stay hand-tight.

Connect the zBoost Base Unit to the provided power supply and plug into a power outlet.

Upon the initial power up, a solid green LED should appear indicating normal conditions. If a red light appears, adjustments may be needed. The Base Unit can be plugged into a standard two or three prong 110 VAC receptacle using the included power supply and consumes less than 10W.

To confirm that your zBoost is working properly, unplug the Base Unit power cord. Turn on your cell phone and check the signal meter. Plug the power cord into the Base Unit.

Hold your cell phone about three feet from the Base Unit and then turn it on. Wait up to one minute for the cell phone to register the signal coming from the Base Unit. If the signal meter shows improvement, your zBoost unit is working properly.

In my test drive with the zBoost, it did boost my signal, but not earthshakingly so. In fact, in talking to others, the reactions have been all over the place. Some have said the booster did nothing to improve their signal; others tell me it made their cell phones usable when they weren’t previously. You’ll probably want to give one a try before you spring for the purchase price.

Rating: 7 out of 10

— Dennis Sellers