Wilson Electronics Sleek 4G-V works well at maintaining Verizon connections (review)

Summary:I've never put much stock into cellular signal boosters, but after using the Wilson Electronics Sleek 4G-V for a couple of weeks I am now convinced they can be extremely valuable.

Wilson Electronics Sleek 4G-V works well at maintaining Verizon connections (review)

Verizon Wireless was the first to launch LTE in Washington State so I purchased the HTC ThunderBolt in March 2011 and have kept my Verizon account active since then. Coverage in Washington is excellent with Verizon, but there are still areas that have gaps and like most people signal strength drops at home. Wilson Electronics is well known for their quality signal boosters and I recently checked out the Sleek 4G-V and home/office accessory kit with my iPhone 5 and HTC Droid DNA.

Check out my image gallery of the Sleek 4G-V and home/office accessory kit.

Important things to know

You wouldn't have to use a device like the Sleek 4G-V if coverage was universally strong, but given the expansive amount of land and varied geography in the United States that just isn't going to happen. If you have weak signal areas at home, work, or on the road then you may want to consider a booster such as this. There are a few important things you need to know before considering one of these. First, you must have at least some signal from your carrier. The booster is NOT a cell tower and will not create a tower near the location you want to use it, it will just enhance the signal you already have. Second, these accessories require that your phone remain docked in the cradle to benefit from the boost. This is perfect for your car where you better not be holding onto your phone anyway, but if you want to walk around your house with your phone then this is not the product for that usage scenario. Third, this Sleek 4G-V model I tested is designed to enhance the Verizon LTE 700 MHz LTE signal so it won't improve your AT&T LTE signal (there is another product for that). This model will also enhance 2G and 3G signals on other carriers, but is intended for Verizon LTE customers.

Box contents and accessories

The Sleek 4G-V comes with everything you need, including the Sleek 4G-V Signal Booster cradle, 4 inch mini-magnet antenna with long cable, vehicle power adapter and USB to miniUSB cable, adhesive dash mounting clip for your car, and four adjustable arms. The Sleek 4G-V actually has two miniUSB ports so you can choose if you want to plug in through the bottom or side. The antenna is quite stout and secures with a very strong magnet on the bottom.

The home/office accessory kit includes a window mount antenna bracket, a desktop cradle stand, and an AC power supply. You will also find a carrying case in the package that I used to carry the parts to and from the office. The desktop stand is great for placing your smartphone securely on your desk and can easily be angled to the perfect fit for your with easy securing dials.

Installation and setup

You can get setup and start using the Sleek 4G-V within just a couple of minutes. The most difficult part is running the cable in a manner that you find acceptable. Since I don't spend a ton of my time in my vehicle (I commute daily by train) I simply ran the cable back under the seat and out the back slider window of my truck and then up to the magnetic antenna. Wilson Electronics has detailed instructions and shows how to run it along your door and even under the door seal. There are also some instructions for reducing interference, but given my truck's large cab I honestly never had an issue.

On the back of the Sleek 4G-V you will find an opening where the adhesive dash mounting clip slides up and into. The slot holds the cradle securely in place. You will also find a couple of side clips on the Sleek 4G-V that are designed to hold your phone in place when you slide it down and into the holder. There are spare clips that you simply slide down and into place if the ones installed by default do not work for your phone. I was even able to put my iPhone 5 in the Sleek 4G-V with it placed inside the OtterBox Defender . The HTC Droid DNA also securely fit into the Sleek 4G-V with the included clips. Don't forget to plug in the vehicle power adapter because your signal will not be enhanced without power to the Sleek 4G-V.

To use the Sleek 4G-V in the house, the setup is even easier. Attach the antenna mount to a window, place the magnetic antenna on it (it has a small metal shelf), run the cable to the Sleek 4G-V, and then slide the Sleek 4G-V into the desktop cradle. Again, don't forget to plug in the power source.

Usage and experiences

I was sent the Wilson Electronics Sleek 4G-V to primarily test out with my iPhone 5, but after seeing that the integrated cradle was pretty universal I tested it out with the HTC Droid DNA and it fit perfectly. I get about 2 or 3 bars, out of 5, on my devices when used at my home and office. As soon as I placed the iPhone 5 in the Sleek 4G-V, I saw that jump to 4 bars and on the HTC Droid DNA I saw it jump to a completely full signal. I know signal bars are not an accurate measurement, but they are an indication of your signal. I then tested out my devices in and out of the Sleek 4G-V and was pleased to see the connection never dropped and data performance was flawless. I thankfully have a grandfathered unlimited data plan so I am able to use my Verizon devices outside of my home or office, where no WiFi connection is available, without worrying much about consuming data.

While in my truck, I also saw full signal with the Sleek 4G-V and was able to use my devices with my Bluetooth headset and not worry about dropped signals for voice or data.

Pricing, availability, and final thoughts

You can purchase the Sleek 4G-V online at various retailers for around $120 to $130. The home/office accessory kit runs in the $23 to $27 range. If you plan to use it at all in your home or office then I recommend you pick up the kit since you get the nice cradle, handy antenna mount, and power adapter.

I never gave these signal boosters a chance before because I thought they were just gimmicks like those dumb stick on boosters, but after testing out this Wilson Electronics one with my Verizon phones I am convinced they can be quite useful and are priced reasonably well when you consider it makes your phone so much more valuable. They give you peace of mind for maintaining a connection with your phone and I imagine frequent business travelers will find the accessory extremely valuable.

Related ZDNet Verizon smartphone coverage

Topics: Mobility, Android, Apple, HTC, iPhone, Reviews, Smartphones, Verizon

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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