Review: Wilson Electronics Sleek

With all of the technological advances in cellular radios, much of the country is still subject to a lack of consistent cellular coverage. One thing that consistently happens when an accepted standard has weak spots is that third party companies look to fill in the gaps to provide a solution that benefits customers. We’ve seen this niche targeted with such products as Cell Ranger’s Stix products, which are designed to amplify the available cellular signal into something that is more usable for your phone.

Wilson Electronics has been in the RF industry for decades. Wilson’s product catalog includes everything from amplifiers to antennae. At CES Wilson announced a new product, dubbed Sleek.

Hardware

The Sleek is actually a kit of several products. First is the magnetic mount antenna, which is designed to be attached securely to the roof of a car. Second is a USB based power adapter which uses the included cigarette lighter adapter. Last is the actual amplifier, which is integrated into a phone cradle.

I was also provided with several accessories for the Sleek that are worth mentioning. The Home/Office Accessory Kit provides a power adapter for indoor use as well as a suction cup based bracket to mount your antenna to an exterior window. Also provided were a pair of USB charging cables (the Sleek amplifier has a second USB port which can be used to charge and power your device), and a higher quality suction cup based mount for your car (the included mount uses an adhesive to attach to your dash).

Installation

Installation is a piece of cake. The antenna and power connections both plug directly into the Sleek amplifier; the hardest part is finding the optimum position for the antenna and running the appropriate cables where they need to go.

Performance

The Sleek reportedly offers up to 20 times more output power when in a vehicle. Determining how much of a performance increase you actually get is a difficult thing to put your finger on. From the standpoint of signal strength, I received up to three additional bars when using the Sleek with my Tilt2 (from 2 to 5 bars). While this sounds amazing, I didn’t get a significant boost in voice quality or data speeds; don’t expect this to triple your throughput.

Conclusion

The Sleek is one of the first signal boosters that I have tested where I can confidently say that it actually does perform the job for which it is designed. The external antenna and amplifier combine to give you much better range and help eliminate dead areas. An additional benefit is that your phone isn’t working as hard to try and maintain a signal, therefore extending your battery life. If you are looking for a signal booster that performs admirably, hit up Wilson Electronics for more details.

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

8 Comments
  • I have also great experience on Wilson Electronics.I was also having a Wilson Electronics antenna for my old LG cell phone.I had used it for my phone in my rural house.
  • To Whom It May Concern, I too have had great experience using the Wilson Amplifier (an older model), as well as the Wilson Cellular Trucker antenna. In fact I'm the guy who gave them the idea for the amplifier many years ago. Back then all they had was the trucker version of their high powered antenna. I could be wrong but I don't remember them having the car versions out then. This was shortly after Jim Wilson had sold his iconic C.B. radio antenna company to Barjan. He, along with his top engineers, as I understand it, went and started Wilson Electronics to just make cellphone antennas, since per the agreement with Barjan he couldn't compete with them in the C.B. field. This was the late 90's and I had been driving a truck OTR since '93. Cellphones were still relatively new and coverage along the rural highways was awful. I needed something better. So when I read about the Wilson Cellular Trucker in a trucking magazine in a truckstop I called them about it. In a few weeks, after thinking about it, I got one. It worked great. It had 3 radials (instead of the 6 today--another idea I gave them later) and, as today was about 3' long. Not the prettiest thing in the world, but I wasn't looking for beauty, I was looking to make calls "at will"--something you couldn't do then. The idea behind the Wilson Antenna is that, not only is it a superior design, but it also gets the transmitting and reception outside of the vehicles metal structure. Both factors work with each other synergistically to make vastly better connectivity happen, especially out in the countryside. It helped me a lot. I referred to it as my "Hand Of God" antenna. It would reach out like it was the hand of God itself, and grab any signal that existed. But it still wasn't enough, I needed more. It occured to me that since built-in carphones transmitted at 3 watts and regular cellphones only transmitted at .5 watts (6x less power) that someone should build a sort of portable cigarette lighter powered "carphone in a box" for boosting up regular phones and transmitting the signal out the Wilson antenna. I was a company driver then and they wouldn't have allowed a built-in cellphone to be installed. Basically if you had to drill a hole or cut into a wire, they wouldn't allow it. So for longhaul truckers, who didn't own their own rig, a carphone was a "no go". And we were the ones who needed the extra 2.5 transmitting watts the most. I talked to the head engineer at Wilson about it several times. I can't remember for sure what his name is, tho I still have it in my notes, but I think it was Paul (I'm terrible at remembering names). Anyway he's still there and still the head engineer. I called a month or so ago with some new ideas for them, and talked to someone and asked him and he gave me the name, which jogged my memory then, I'm just drawing a blank tonight. I didn't get to talk to my old friend since he was down in South America on vacation at his house down there (lucky devil). Anyway, in the 90's there were no "built-in 'carphone-in-a-box' cigarette lighter powered cell boosters", nobody had thought of it yet. To me it seemed obvious. Another thing I wanted was to get away from the direct connect aspect of the Wilson antenna to the phone, which was (and still is) difficult. Basically, I wanted a sort of "wireless cellphone booster in a box" to boost my phone up to carphone level, but which wouldn't be built in and which I could unplug and take with me to any other truck. Anyway, the other problem was, to connect any phone to the Wilson antenna you had to use a special adapter they had, which was different for each phone, and pop out a technician plug of some sort on the back of the phone and pop in the adapter. The adapter would then screw into the wire that went to the antenna. Then if you wanted to take your phone out of the vehicle (and who didn't), you had to remove the adapter and, to protect the phones innards, replace the little rubber plug in the hole in the back. If you didn't and dust or moisture got in there and caused a problem I imagine your warranty would've been voided. Anyway, the antenna worked great, but connecting it to the phone and disconnecting it, was a pain for most phones. My idea to the head engineer was have an antenna built into the "carphone in a box" to pick up the cell signal from the phone(which would eliminate the direct connect and allow people to take the phone with them easily) and boost it up to 3 watts and maybe they could have something to improve reception also. He was a smart guy and instantly grasped how it would be possible and even tried to explain to me how I could build it myself from parts I might possibly be able to get at places like Radio Shack. I didn't want to build it, I completly lacked that ability. I wanted Wilson to, so I could just buy it. Of course I secretly hoped that when the time came they would just give me one ;-) . Actually he did give me one later to test, a prototype, but I could never get it to work. Tho I did buy one later at a truckstop that worked like gangbusters! At the time he and Jim Wilson didn't want to try to build it since I guess they had their hands full with the antenna and were a young company. But I called a few more times, probably making a nuisance of myself actually. In time I gave up. But a year or so after I gave up I learned somehow (maybe thru an ad or maybe an article in a truck magazine-dunno now) about the cell booster product. I called and asked my engineer buddy about it and was gratified to learn that they were coming out with it afterall. He never quite thanked me for giving them the idea or even admitted it came from me. But in his position, I wouldn't have either, it's just too risky to do that these days. He didn't really know me except over the phone and I'm sure he didn't know but what I would try something legally to get some kind of royalty (I wouldn't have, and NEVER will). I know that invention is only one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Wilson Electronics superb engineers put in that 99% perspiration, and Jim Wilson invested the big bucks to build it and comb out the bugs (and there were lots of bugs since it was more complicated than either I or my friend had thought--no way I, or he, could've cobbled it together from mere Radio Shack parts lol). Anyway, all I provided was the initial1% inspiration, and I knew it. No way did I ever have ANY intention to sue them for royalties. The very idea is laughable since they did ALL the heavy lifting. I could never have built that thing. And would never have had the first inkling of how to even come up with schematics for it. I didn't even write down notes about it at the time. I just wanted to describe the basic idea of it to a REAL engineer, so hopefully he would invent it, so I could buy it, because I needed it desperately. Still it would've been nice (and would still be nice!) to get public credit for dreaming up what has since turned out to be a whole category of products for the world, just in the cab of my truck. Since then a lot of companies have copied the wireless cell booster idea that Wilson was the first to develop. But I would bet money that none make one as good as Wilsons technology. Wilson doesn't build cheap stuff, they build it right or they don't build it. That's the impression I've always gotten at least. And I'm proud of the fact that I'm the one who dreamed up the basic idea of this category of products for them. Truckdrivers don't get a lot of credit for things we think of. And granted, some of them, as in every profession, are pretty dumb (thankfully that's a minority). And there are lots of us who are average or above average intelligence. I know, I trained truckers for five years from '96 to '02 (this was during the time I came up with this idea), and I trained both engineers (laid off or burnt out or following a childhood dream), and dunces. And lots of variegated people in between. Some were smarter than me, others perhaps a bit less so. But they all had pretty much the same issues as each other with learning to shift the gears, back up in docks, maneuver thru city streets, and stay awake when needed or go to sleep when needed. And a thousand other issues that people who don't basically live on the road don't ever have, or even have to think about, including cellphone connectivity issues. All I'm saying is it would be nice, if truckers got a bit of credit for at least providing the basic idea behind a technology that has helped resolve this issue of cell connectivity for people the world over, the wireless cellphone booster (or "wireless, cigarette lighter powered, carphone in a box"). Anyway, the 1st booster Wilson came out with (and I think it's still being sold) was still a direct connect to the phone affair. This was about when I got the prototype to test. I really didn't like it since it was still a pain to connect and disconnect. Also it wasn't 3 watts. I called my buddy [I wish I could be sure of his name], and he said there were problems with the signal being wireless, also problems with the 3 watt idea, and that the lower power was good enough. I couldn't see it, but then I'm not an engineer. To me it was simple, if "some power" was good, "more power" was automatically better, and the technology could be invented to overcome the problems and make it work. Later I think he did boost it up to 3 watts, tho from the conversation I had last month, it may have been reduced to a lower level again. Or maybe I'm mis-remembering about it going up to 3 watts at one point dunno. When they solved the wireless part and made the direct connect part obsolete, he told me that the signal discriminater was many times more sensitive than the cheap ones used in a cellphone. This was the answer for a problem that had been bugging me, namely that even tho a booster would make the tower pick up your phone a lot better, it would do nothing to help your phone pick up the tower better. He may have told me of his "better signal discriminater idea" before that time but I just wanted to make it clear that the part about the better signal discriminater was NOT my idea, that came from Wilsons engineers. This part, and the part about boosting up to (or closer to) 3 watts, and the part where they finally worked out how to make it wireless to the phone itself, was what gave them major headaches. It is irritating to me that other companies, especially the cheap "reverse engineering/patent violating" companies in (supposedly Communist) China, have either stolen or come up with cheap (and not as good) ways around Wilsons patents. And probably without paying them any licensing fees. Wilson Electronics did all the heavy lifting on this, they did the "due diligence" as they say. They listened to a tired and sometimes cranky truckdriver, and took his ideas, and did just what he asked them to do. They turned them into a set of great products that, by this time, have helped millions of people around the planet get better reception out in the countryside. I am SO proud they did, even if I never get any credit in the history books for it. But, please don't get me wrong, Wilson Electronics should get recognition for having been the very first company to develop the booster idea. To my knowledge they don't even tout this on their own website, even tho they SHOULD. Maybe they do and I just didn't see it. Later, like I said, he and his people did get the wireless aspect of my idea to work. So FINALLY I was able to stop at a truckstop and buy my "wireless carphone in a box". That was a thrill, I can tell you. It worked just about as well as I'd imagined it would, tho it looked a little different than I'd imagined (it was a damn sight prettier lol). It was somewhere in here that he and I had a conversation about the antenna. It originally had 3 general purpose radials for both 800MHz and the new 1900MHz. He told me that all the cell companies were gradually switching to the 1900MHz. So it occured to me that the antenna should (if it was technically possible) also have 3 radials specifically designed for 1900MHz. I didn't know if it was possible, or if they would interfere somehow with the other radials, or be too long or have some other problem. I'm not any kind of an engineer, so I just didn't know. He assured me it wouldn't pose a problem and that they would actually be shorter, but he just didn't think it would be necessary since the other radials were a good compromise for both frequencies. But I basically wanted the "Hand Of God" to have even longer fingernails. I also wanted gold on the electrical contacts and some other things I can't think of now. Basically I'm a "throw everything at it including the kitchen sink" type of guy. I don't think there is such a thing as "over-engineering" as long as it's GOOD engineering and doesn't totally break the bank--ohh and as long as "the other guy" is doing all the hard work of it, lol. So anyway I pushed that "3 more radials" idea as much as I could in a few of the conversations we had, and then gave up. A year or so later, I was in a truckstop somewhere and took a look at their product and said "OMG! There's 6 radials on this thing." I counted them a few times just to be sure, lol. I guess he and Jim decided they liked the idea afterall. I called him and asked about it, and he said the 3 shorter ones were specifically tuned to the new frequency. I replaced my old antenna either that day or shortly afterwards, and was very pleased with it. Meanwhile, I've noticed they've come out with a lot of nifty new products. I may be buying a new booster and antenna soon. I was laid off all of last year as a company driver and have recently bought my own rig. I haven't installed my old Wilson antenna and booster on my truck yet. I really need to do that I know. But I was hoping they had a new 4g booster and antenna coming out soon. That was why I called to talk to my buddy the head engineer a few weeks ago. I want an antenna with radials for 1900MHz, probably still need the 800MHz "compromise" radials since some of the digital is probably still on that frequency, and Wimax (Sprint 4g) radials. Also other people will need the radials for LTE if it's a different frequency. (Or these could be separate antennas, since that's a lot of radials on one antenna). Personally, I will also need a booster for Wimax 4g. I don't have a phone or aircard from Sprint yet that uses 4g, but I will probably be an early adopter since 3g is so slow. And Wilson REALLY needs 2b working on that technology right now in order to have it ready for the mass rollout of 4g by next year. I will probably instal and use my old antenna and booster till Wilson (HOPEFULLY!) comes out with a combo one of each of them that boosts 3g EVDO and 4g Wimax. They were the first and are still the BEST producer of cell boosting technology in the world (as far as I know--more on that in a moment) and they need to be the leader in boosting the new 4g too. And hopefully, if they read this, they will get on it right now! Times 'awasting, and someone else will develop it if they don't. I'd hate to see that happen, since they are the best. One thing I wanted to say. There were (and still are) a lot of cheap knock-off cell antenna and booster companies out there (usually made in China--often using inferior components and technology ripped off from Wilson which did the heavy lifting). They are less expensive than Wilson products, which are (as far as I know) still made here in the U.S. of A! They deserve your business, and you can call them any time, and if you ask nicely, you can still talk to an engineer. How many companies, even here in the USA can you still call up and in five minutes talk to an engineer?? What about calling up a Chinese "rip-off" company and asking for an engineer? Even if you DID speak Chinese, they probably wouldn't let you speak to one. They may not even have an engineer (a REAL one), except the kind that can reverse engineer OUR technology. And then figure out how to make the "easy parts" of the product from cheap off the shelf components. U.S. consumers are easily fooled by lookalike knockoffs from other countries, that are not as good as the original that was developed right here. Many times these superior US products were made using feedback from real US consumers who could, as I did, call in and provide direct feedback, or even original ideas to the engineers who have the ear of the company CEO, such as Jim Wilson, in this case. Jim Wilson, as I understand it, IS an engineer, and he listens to his fellow engineers. During this time, a few years ago. I called my engineering friend and told him of a knockoff Chinese antenna which was being sold in a chain truckstop and was made to look almost exactly like the Wilson product. It was also in a package that looked like theirs. I thought that maybe they (Wilson) were making it for that company or licensing it to them. He said they weren't and I was asked to provide an affidavit by mail for them to use in legal proceedings against that company. The affidavit was to describe accurately how confusing this knockoff/ripoff product was to me as a consumer (and it was). I was only too happy to comply with that request, and wrote it for them and sent it in. I'm done now. I'm not sure why I wrote all this exactly. I just got started and, hours later here I am. I don't even know if it will post or not being this long. But I figured you might find it interesting to know the background of the product (and by now, the "category of products" it's a part of) that you just reviewed. I hope you found this as enjoyable to read, as I found it to write. I have little or no expectation of ending up in Wikipedia or anything, lol. I'd probably have to put it there myself, and I won't do that. That would just be an ego move, and I know I have no proof besides. I will probably call (Paul, or maybe it's Bruce?? Darn I still can't remember his name for sure. My apologies to him, I'm terrible with names.) with new ideas someday, when I have them. Meanwhile, hopefully there are more miles ahead of me than behind. And, in your field, for you as well. Take care. Sincerely, Greg H. (OTR Truckdriver from Tennessee)
  • @ Greg h. - now THAT was impressive.
  • @ Greg H. - Very interesting. Thanks!
  • It is mostly plastic, the surfaces that touch your handset are covered in a soft touch material.It holds the phone securely, doesn
  • Thanks guys. BTW. I got his name wrong, (as I suspected). It's Alan, not Paul, I guess subconsciously I got his name confused with Microsofts Paul Allen. He's a sharp guy as always. And all I can say is the company is still innovating new technology. The cheap knock-off companies will continue to have their hands full. I also noticed on their website that they have won a lot of technology awards. And they have expanded tech support to 7am to 6pm MST. And it's free, and toll free. I called and a tech picked up in about 30 seconds. Try getting that from a cheap knock-off company in China. I know I sound like a commercial, but I'm not. In response to the comment by "link building India", I've not used the product in this review, but it sounds nifty. I was talking about the metal units they make, not the plastic ones. The metal ones are blue. There are different ones depending on whether you want the wireless or direct connect one, and which type of cell service you have. Sincerely Greg H. (OTR Truckdriver from Tennessee)
  • U.S. products contributions were made by U.S. real consumers who may, like me, call and provide direct information, or even original ideas for engineers who have the ear of the Chief Executive of Business as Jim Wilson, in this case.
  • I have a vacation home in the Catskill mountains in New York State, In order to use my cell I had to drive to the top of Mt. Jefferson until I got the "Sleek". I now get full bars in my house and can make and receive calls anytime.
    I strongly reccomend the sleek it solved my reception problem. Out of ten I rate it a ten!
    John