Top positive review
22 people found this helpful
Great access point - features and performance beat the WiFi built into consumer routers
on October 22, 2014
My first time experience with this product was good. I am an experienced IT consultant, and did not find the setup hard- but as other reviewers have noted, the experience is VERY different than the process used with the typical consumer router/WiFi.
Others have noted many details, but here are a couple concepts that I have not seen mentioned so far:
With these access points you do not configure the unit directly. The required (and not included in the box) management software guides you through the initial setup with so little fuss that it's not obvious what it did. My first unit was ready to use in minutes, once I had downloaded and installed the management software (the download link is listed in the quick start guide, but not very obvious.)
So here are the concepts Ubiquiti uses, but are not well laid out in the literature:
Settings of all kinds are stored in a "site" - and stored in the management software of the computer you are using, not in the access point (at first.)
This includes the the admin user name and password, the SSID, and the pre-shared key (which is the official name of the WiFi password.)
When you connect the UniFi to your LAN, the management software discovers it and lists it as an "unplaced" Access point. Using a graphical drag and drop interface, you "place" the unit in a site - and when you drop it there, with no further action on the part of the user, the management software pushes all the relevant settings out to the new access point.
You don't see this happen during the initial wizard, if this is a brand new installation on a PC that has never had the software before. In a brand new install, a site called "default" is created, and the new access point is place in the site with the settings you entered in response to questions from the wizard.
If you are setting up a single one of these access points for home use - that's it. You are done. It's disconcertingly quick, and leaves you thinking there must be more to do.
The simplicity is partly because the wizard is good, but mostly because there really is not a lot to set on a device like this that is a pure access point. It's not a router, it doesn't do NAT, or fire walling, or port forwarding, or QOS, or DHCP. It doesn't need, and normally would not have a fixed IP address.
It's just an access point - but it is a very, very good access point. Far better range and throughput than my ASUS RT-N16, which is a pretty good unit itself.
So, it's a great addition to a network that already has a router, and needs WiFi. Where it really starts to shine is if you need to cover a large space with multiple access points. Add another unit to the LAN, open the management software, drag it to the "site" and you are done. You can add dozens, or even hundreds. And when you do, they have a feature that is not available on any home WiFi: they create a single large Wifi coverage area, and the units talk to each other, and keep track of what client devices are connected to which access point, and automatically hand off from one to another, similar to the way cell towers hand your phone off to a different tower.
Lastly, to clear up one common question: You DO NOT need the management software running on any computer on the LAN for all the good stuff to happen. Access points DO store the settings internally in non-volatile memory. Units DO talk directly to each other to do the cool roaming hand off independent of the console. You only need to run the management console to make changes. And if you have a bunch of access points in a "site", the changes are automatically pushed out to all the units in a "rolling update"