I think it is safe to say that everyone has experienced issues with their home wifi at some point. I think a good number of you feel me when I say there is that one spot in your house that just pisses you off because you can’t get a good connection. Often this is because of ventilation pipes in the wall, brick fireplace chimneys, or simply distance from your wireless router.
Often times, the wireless router finds itself in the office, which inevitably on an exterior wall. The optimal place to put your router would be directly in the middle of your house based on how the wireless signal is distributed. Unfortunately for most of us, it’s just not possible to make that happen. Enter Ubiquiti Labs new mesh networking hardware. This neat little gadget extends your network past what any single router can reach by adding another access point for your wireless devices to connect to.
Ubiquiti does make a router that is designed to work with these mesh points, but for the purposes of this review, we used this with a third party router (Netgear R6400) for this review.
Setup is very straightforward. The AmpliFi system is all set up with a mobile app called, you can probably guess, AmpliFi. Once you plug the mesh point into a wall socket and give it about 60 seconds to boot up properly, launch the app. If it is not already enabled, you will be prompted to turn on your Bluetooth and location services. Once all necessary services are enabled you will be shown a nice list of devices (if you have multiple points) for you to configure. Follow the prompts to find a network to connect to and type in your password.
The mesh point consists of two parts: the power supply and the antenna. The power supply has a grounded plug and a dish-like connector on the top. The dish is what actually transmits the power to the antenna. The antenna is a long slender piece of molded plastic-like material that houses all the electronics. on the front of the antenna are 5 LED’s that are used to reflect the connection status of your mesh point. The device, overall, is well designed and would blend in with most home designs, however, I do wish that it was just a hair smaller.
How it Works
After the initial setup is complete, you want to find the right place in your house to plug in the mesh point. I live out in the country and I figured this would be a good way to try this out. I plugged it into one of the buildings that is roughly 150 feet from my house, which, according to the readout on the app, provides the mesh point with a 36% connection to my router (keep in mind I am using the 2.4 GHz band which does allow for longer range than 5GHz). With the placement I decided to use, I was able to get about 350 feet away from my router and still have a connection to my network.
Performance is great, for the most part. I did not notice any drop in network performance when connecting to the mesh point or any connectivity issues while using it either. It is a nice feeling to connect to a separate device but not need to manage a separate wireless network. My only complaint is in the handoff from one access point to the other. I did do a few tests of network connectivity during this handoff and I have to say that performance was less than optimal. I never had a successful handoff where any download I was doing was able to complete after connecting. My hope is that this would be corrected if we were using the AmpliFi router, but that will need to be a test for another day.
Yes, you read that correctly. The mobile app was recently upgraded to allow access to your AmpliFi devices from outside the network. As you can tell from the screenshot, I am not connected to any Wifi network and I am able to see live throughput of the access point. While you are connected to the network you gain the ability to run connection tests back to the ISP.
The app also affords you the ability to connect with the live support team at your fingertips. Simply tap the menu button in the upper left corner, and select the Live Support button. A chat session will launch and you are instantly connected with a support person in a live chat window. Can’t beat that service!
The AmpliFi line, by Ubiquiti, is something that I was very excited to review. That being said, my overall experience was meh. The app is great, the design is sleek, and the components are quality, but, if you are using it in the same manner as we did here, I think there are more affordable options to extend your wireless network.
I hope to get the opportunity to review the router/mesh point combo to see if it is what I expect a name like Ubiquiti to put out.