With names and model numbers of so many multi-user weBoost vehicle cell phone signal boosters swirling around, we decided to put this blog post together to help you make sense of it all.
Both of them have now been discontinued. They have been replaced with the Drive X (475021) and Drive Reach (470154). It seems that with advent of 5G, weBoost wanted to disassociate weBoost Drive Series kits with the term, "4G". Now they refer to Drive X and Drive Reach as "5G ready".
Nevertheless, these weBoost Drive cellular amplifiers have remained one of the most popular weBoost products on the market. In 2019, weBoost launched the Drive Reach, which offered enhanced functionality and a different appearance. Let us take a closer look at both the current models, weBoost Drive X and the weBoost Drive Reach to compare these two vehicle cell phone signal booster products.
As of May 2020, the weBoost Drive X retails for $399.99. As of the same month and year, the weBoost Drive Reach retails for $499.99. The 20 percent price reduction in Drive X takes into account the Drive Reach's dramatic performance increase. It comes as little surprise that most people are willing to pay slightly more to take advantage of additional performance benefits of the superior Drive Reach product. Despite the lower cost of the weBoost X, it offers some benefits not available in weBoost Reach, as detailed below.
Design of Booster.
The weBoost Drive X is constructed with a metal case, while the weBoost Drive Reach is also constructed with a metal case but includes a mounting bracket and heat sink. That is because of the Drive Reach's additional power makes it run at a higher temperature than the Drive X. This necessitates inclusion of a heat sink in the design of the Drive Reach to disperse the excess heat generated by the booster.
The heat sink takes appearance of eight grooves along the top of the amplifier, each 15 millimeters deep. Due to its high running temperature, and the necessity for a heat sink, the Drive Reach cannot be stored in the glove box area of the vehicle. It will need to be used in an area that is well ventilated to allow itself to maintain a cool operating temperature, such as under a seat in the vehicle.
For mounting, the Drive Reach includes a mounting bracket that clicks on to the amplifier and adheres with Velcro strips to any carpeted surface. Alternatively, the mounting bracket can be mounted on any drillable surface such as on a car roof, and includes screw holes for this purpose. The mounting bracket included with the Drive X also features inbuilt screw holes, but it does not include the Velcro strips.
Dimensions of Booster.
While the dimensions of these two products are relatively similar, it is notable that the Drive Reach is an additional 50 percent taller than the Drive X. Most notably, the Drive Reach is two times as heavy as the Drive X. This is in large part due to the necessary inclusion of the heat sink. The dimensions of the two products are as follows:
weBoost Drive X:
- Length: 15.88 centimetres / 6.25 inches.
- Width: 11.43 centimetres / 4.5 inches.
- Depth: 2.54 centimetres / 1 inch.
- Weight: 349 grams / 0.77 lbs.
weBoost Drive Reach:
- Length: 15.24 centimetres / 6 inches.
- Width: 11.43 centimetres / 4.50 inches.
- Depth: 3.81 centimetres / 1.50 inches.
- Weight: 816 grams / 1.80 lbs.
Gain and Power.
Gain refers to the increased cellular signal strength given to the signal received from the outdoor antenna by the booster and is measured in decibels (dB). Both the weBoost Drive X and the weBoost Reach offer +50 decibels of maximum gain. These're the highest gain levels allowed by the FCC for mobile cellular signal amplifiers that are pre-approved by carriers.
Downlink and Uplink Power.
While the weBoost Drive X and the weBoost Drive Reach offer identical gain, they do differ when it comes to downlink and uplink power.
Uplink power refers to, "signal sent" from cell devices to the nearest cell tower. It is the level of power used by the booster to facilitate a connection to a distant cellular tower and is measured in dBm (decibel-milliwatts). The greater the level of uplink power, the more distance can exist between the cellular tower and the signal booster to still create a connection.
Downlink power refers to, "signal received" from nearest cell tower to the cellular devices. It is the level of power used by the booster to facilitate a connection between itself and the cell devices including cell phones, within the vehicle. Also measured in dBm (decibel-milliwatts), the greater the level of downlink power, the more distance that can exist between the signal booster and cell phones and other devices, while still providing noticeably improved cellular signals.
Decibel-milliwatts is measured on a logarithmical scale, where a 3 dB power increase equates to a doubling of power, and a 10 dB power increase equates to power that is 10 times higher. This makes it difficult to compare decibel milliwatts. To compensate, it is useful to convert decibel milliwatts to milliwatts (mW) to facilitate easier comparisons of cellular signal strengths.
The Drive X offers:
- Average uplink gains of 23.7 dBm which equates to 242 milliwatts.
- Average downlink gains of 2.48 dBm which equates to 1.78 milliwatts.
The Drive Reach offers:
- Average uplink gains of 28.7 dBm which equates to 753 milliwatts.
- Average downlink gains of 3.24 dBm which equates to 5.10 milliwatts.
As you can see from above figures, the Drive-Reach offers noticeable advantages in both downlink and uplink power when compared to the Drive-X.
753 mW divided by 242 mW equals 3.12, meaning that the Drive Reach offers more than three times the levels of uplink power when compared to the Drive X. In practical terms, the DriveReach can facilitate connections to distant cellular signal towers that are much further away when compared to the cellular signal towers that can be accessed by the DriveX.
3.24 mW divided by 1.78 mW equals 1.82, meaning that the Drive Reach offers almost two times the levels of downlink power when compared to the Drive X. In practical terms, the Drive Reach can facilitate connections to cell phones and other cellular devices that are located farther away from the signal amplifier and its indoor antenna within a moving vehicle.
Both of these metrics confirm that the Drive Reach mobile cellular signal booster is a more powerful option when compared to the Drive X.
Both mobile cellular signal boosters compared in this article offer an indicator light on the front panel of the booster which indicates its status. Both products include a user's manual detailing the proper interpretation of the signal light, as well as how to troubleshoot any problems. In general, for both products:
- A green solid indicator light means that the booster is working properly on all frequency bands.
- A green solid indicator light with intermittent red blinking means that the booster has automatically reduced its power to at least one of the frequency bands to prevent the occurrence of signal oscillation or feedback.
- A solid red indicator light means that the booster has been completely shut down to prevent similar signal tower interference due to oscillation. This is a rare occurrence.
The weBoost Drive X utilizes SMA threaded Connectors, while the weBoost Drive Reach utilizes SMB Connectors.
The SMA Connectors utilized by the Drive X are threaded to allow for easy connection across the system. The male connection on the coaxial cable twists into the female SMA connection on the signal booster. This makes the connection easy to remove should you wish to make use of the booster in several vehicles.
The SMB Connectors utilized by the Drive Reach is female on the coaxial cable, allowing for an easy connection to the male SMB connection on the signal booster. When connected correctly, you will hear a clear snapping sound. These types of connectors are unlikely to loosen over time. This is particularly important with a cellular booster that operates at high temperatures, such as the Drive Reach. Unlike SMA Connectors, SMB Connectors are very easy to install because they just snap into place. However, also unlike SMA Connectors, SMB Connectors are not easy to remove and are not designed to be connected and disconnected frequently.
In summary, it is easier to install and uninstall the Drive X booster than the Drive Reach booster whose connectors are very easy to install - but much harder to remove. This is important if you plan to frequently switch the kit from one vehicle to another depending on your needs. This is an important consideration when making your purchase because it will save time removing and re-installing in another vehicle if you buy the "X" which is easier to do versus the "Reach" which will take longer and be more tedious because SMB connectors are extremely tightly fitted together and very hard to pull out.
The weBoost Drive Reach utilizes the LMR100 coaxial cable to both indoor and outdoor antennas. The weBoost Drive X also utilizes the LMR100 coaxial cable to the indoor antenna but requires the RG174 coaxial cable to facilitate a connection to the outdoor antenna. However, the differences between the LMR100 and RG174 coaxial cables are negligible. Both cables are 50 ohms, the same diameter, and have almost identical rates of per foot signal loss. Neither signal booster offers any real advantage in area of coaxial cables.
Both the Drive X and the Drive Reach use the same two antennas: a magnet mounted four-inch rooftop antenna to facilitate communications with distant cellular towers, and a low profile, dashboard-mounted antenna to facilitate communications with cellular devices including cell phones, within the vehicle.
Both come bundled with a power supply that needs to be plugged into the DC 12 volt power port within the vehicle. The Drive X includes a DC 3-amp power supply, while the Drive Reach includes a DC 4.5 amp power supply with a power button and a USB-A 2.1 amp pass-through port.
The Drive Reach has measurably higher power supply requirements compared to the Drive X, which is why the two signal boosters come bundled with different power supply units. It is important to note that the power supply units between these two signal boosters are not interchangeable.
As a bonus, the power supply unit included with the Drive Reach includes a USB-A 2.1 amp pass-through port, allowing for one cellular device to be charged while the booster is in use.
Another helpful addition to the power supply of the Drive Reach is that the LED light doubles as an on/off button for the booster. Turning off the booster when you're not using it is as simple as pressing the LED light. In some vehicles, the 12-volt power supply is configured to be always on, even when the car is not turned on or the key is not in the ignition. This could potentially drain your vehicle's battery if the signal booster continues to be in operation when the car is off. Remembering to turn it off when you are not using it will ensure that you do not inadvertently drain your car battery.
Choosing between the weBoost Drive X and weBoost Drive Reach.
To summarize, the weBoost Drive X is a less expensive solution that may suit an individual or organization with a lower budget. In addition, if you are looking for a mobile cellular signal booster that you can easily move between different vehicles, the Drive X may be the better solution. Its SMA connector system has been designed to allow for fast and simple connection and disconnection as required.
On other hand, the weBoost Drive Reach is a more powerful and more technologically advanced mobile cellular signal booster that will allow you to connect to distant cell towers, even those offering weaker signals. If you're looking for a high-powered mobile signal booster to be permanently affixed into one vehicle and are happy to pay a little more, the weBoost Drive Reach contains all the right specifications to make it the best choice on the market today.
If you're still having trouble deciding between the weBoost Drive X and the weBoost Drive Reach, we can help. Feel free to contact the friendly expert team at SignalBooster.com with any questions or queries you may have.
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