Every now and then you come across a product that promises to do things exceptionally well for a lower price than you would otherwise expect and… it actually exceeds your expectations. That’s the case with the Sleek cell phone booster for Wilson Electronics.
We had a chance to meet with representatives from the company when we were in Las Vegas for CES and, thanks to them, I’ve been using a review unit of the Sleek for the past week or so. The unit is small, surprisingly inexpensive and it works phenomenally well. I live in a part of New Jersey where the cell reception can drop off to nothing at a moment’s notice. It is beyond frustrating to be in the midst of a call and constantly worry that you’re about to be disconnected. Since I started using the Sleek I haven’t had any of these issues. In addition, I have found the unit to be the best window mounted car cradle I have ever used with my iPhone. It holds the phone securely, doesn’t require you to “click” the phone into place, and it can be used with the iPhone of whether the phone is in a case or not. Moreover, it is great when I am using my iPhone as a GPS.
Yes, I’m raving about this product… but only because it is that good. Let’s take a look…
From Wilson Electronics–
The Wilson plug-and-play Sleek™ helps users reduce dropped calls, increase data rates in weak signal areas and originate calls from those dreaded “dead spots”. The Sleek™ and its external vehicular antenna increases any phone’s output power to the cell site while improving its ability to hear signals it normally cannot, keeping the user more reliably connected. Designed for simple set up, the Sleek™ can be easily moved from vehicle to vehicle.
Built into the Sleek™ cradle is a Wilson tried and tested bi-directional signal amplifier and battery charging port. The cradle is ideal for hands free operation in conjunction with a user’s headset or Bluetooth device.
• Reduces dropped calls, extends signal range, and increases data rates
• Built in amplifier boosts signals to and from cell site
• Up to 20 TIMES more output power to cell site when in a vehicle
• Receives weak signals the phone alone may not
• Built-in port for battery charging
• Extends battery life – Amplifier enables phone to work at reduced power
• Simplifies hands free operation
• Installs in minutes – no special tools required
• Package includes everything needed — plug-and-play
• Attractive, compact design
• Adjustable arms to fit most any phone
My thoughts —
The Sleek’s amplifying electronics are right in the cradle itself. That keeps the unit small and makes setup as simple as finding the right spot in your car for the cradle, figuring out how you want to attach the base, and then running the antenna from the cradle to the roof or hood of the car. The kit comes with everything that you need in order to make this happen.
The cradle —
On the bottom of a cradle there are two connection points. The first allows you to screw in the antenna. The second is a mini USB port for powering the device. The unit ships with both a car adapter and a wall adapter. Because the unit is so small and comes with both power sources it can easily be moved from the car to a home office if need be. On the side of the cradle is a second mini USB port. This is used to charge select devices if you have the appropriate additional accessory connectors. Using an extra cable that I had lying around I was able to set it up so that the Sleek now charges my iPhone when it’s in the cradle as well.
The system for holding the phone in the cradle is rather unusual and is probably the best solution that I have yet encountered. (Best understood in the above video.)
There are two “arms” that come out from either side of the cradle at an angle and create a space in front of the cradle where the iPhone can slip in. Because of the angle, however, the opening at the front is smaller and therefore holds the iPhone, once in position, in place. Each arm is to attach to the cradle in one of three positions thus providing a number of different options from a size perspective. If you’re using a small feature phone using the brackets into the first slot on either side of the cradle and create the smallest “compartment”. If you’re using a large phone you should remove the brackets to the frontmost slot on either side and create a large ‘compartment”. For the iPhone I position the brackets in the middle slot on both sides and it works perfectly. In fact, it’s exactly the right size for me to use my iPhone either in the case were not in a case without having to move the brackets again.
Running the antenna outside of the car was a bit more challenging. this isn’t intended to be a permanent solution that is built into the car so having the antenna professionally run to the outside doesn’t make a lot of sense. In addition, the first attempt to position the antenna at the back of the car didn’t work because the court was a little bit too short for my needs. In the end I ran the court through the hinge on the driver side and positioned the small antenna right next to the hood of the car. It’s unobtrusive and quite secure in its home now.
Once the cradle was attached to the windshield and the anttenna was run outside the installation process was done. Really it’s that simple.
I then plugged the Sleek into the cigarette lighter, dropped my iPhone into the cradle, and saw my cell reception improved dramatically. In places where I would have one bar I now have four or five bars. in places where I had four bars I now consistently have a full five. Best of all, why don’t have any scientific data to prove this, it certainly seems as if my iPhone is getting far better battery life thanks to the strong signal it’s receiving.
I have the cradle set up so that I can charge my phone if need be but I really haven’t found myself needing to.
What really amazes me about this device is not just that it works so incredibly well but that it comes in at an MSRP of just $130. To my mind, the increase in cell reception, the superb iPhone cradle it offers and the apparent better battery life make this a technology bargain. It is so good, in fact, been thinking about buying one to using my home study. (As bad as the drops are when I’m driving the cell reception when I’m home is even worse.)
The Sleek cell phone signal booster is an MSRP of $130 and is available from a wide variety of authorized Wilson product dealers.
What I like —
It works beautifully and boosts signals significantly, installation is easy, it comes with both a windshield mount and adhesive mount so you have a wide range of choices, the cradle itself comes in more than a bit handy even when you aren’t using the signal booster as a signal booster
What needs improvement —
I would love to see the products ship with a wide range of adapters for charging everything from a Motorola Droid to an Apple iPhone, the entire court was too short to make it all the way to the back of my Subaru Outback’s roof (although ultimately a forced me to find a far better location for the antenna)
For more information visit Wilson’s site.