I have to admit, I am becoming a bit of a Ubiquiti Fan Boy. Since I started moving my family to all streaming media, wireless has been a huge challenge. Trying to get internet to every corner of the house, without running cable through the walls, caused me to try out a number of products. While most had a simple manageable interface most fell down on performance or features. Last week, based on my recommendation, a friend of my wife purchased and asked me to install it for her to resolve her poor wireless coverage.
The initial setup was pretty simple. It consists of a base router/access point. Once I had plugged that in and restarted the cable modem, I was prompted to download the app. It nearly immediately found the wireless system, and walked me through a simple setup wizard. The longest part of the install was the update. All said and done the system was up and running, with both wireless extenders appropriately placed in around 5 min. I had her test the most remote TV with Netflix, and the most remote computer to validate. The improvement in service was instant for her.
The management interface was very simple and intuitive. Everything was available on my iPhone, no web interface to speak of, but really not necessary. The main screen of the app displays the status of the main device and the two extenders. This leads me to believe that it is unlikely there will ever be more than 2 extenders, which is probably sufficient for most home users.
The guest network was particularly interesting, the ability to schedule the guest ssid made it unique. The thought being that if you have guests over, you can schedule the guest wireless for a few hours and have it shutoff automatically when they are gone. The wireless device map shows who is connected to the network, not unique, but it is much simpler to use, and far more accurate than previous devices I have seen.
As with any product, there is always room for improvement. One of the things I would have liked to see what a bit more on the traffic analytics, and more specifically restrictions and parental controls. A number of the “mesh wireless” competitors are adding these in as software updates, so I would think that this will come in a future release, but it would have been a huge win for Ubiquiti if they had brought this in the initial offering. It can be done, but it is not intuitive for the audience they intend the product for.
The app is great, but I would have liked to see a full web client with all the features of the app. The concept of mobile first is great, but sometimes when I am working, I don’t want to dig out my phone to make changes. It is great to be able to just open a new tab and make any changes right there.
Which leads to remote management. This one is not a huge issue for most users, including the target audience, but for those of us who travel for work, and manage our home network, and home networks of our family, having remote access to the network is fairly important. It actually caused me to choose a Ubiquiti’s Unifi system over Amplifi for my mother who lives 2 hours away. I did not want to explain to her how to manage wifi on an app, it is easier to let her focus on facebook and pictures of the grandkids.
I try not to do many product reviews, but I felt like this one was worth the time to write up. Ubiquiti has really done a great job here, it won’t replace my Unifi system at home, but if they had the Amplifi system available when I installed it last year, I would likely have gone that direction.