Amplifi HD Home Wi-Fi Kit review: Simple, yet accessible

If you're in the market for updating your Wi-Fi network to a mesh system, Amplifi HD has a well designed, practical solution for your end-of-life Airport Base Stations.

Amplifi HD is a multi-node meshed router capable system, designed by former Apple employees who worked on the Airport series of Wi-Fi Base Stations. Does all of that experience with the Airport series translate well for your approximately $340 investment? Let's find out!

What you'll love about the Amplifi HD Home Kit

Amplifi HD uses a multi-band radio for load balancing Wi-Fi data between nodes and the main router. It's all self regulating and yes, it just works.

At-a-glance visual feedback is the highlight of this mesh home system. LEDs tell you the remote node's signal strength by simply looking at them. A truly welcome feature since other vendors run a diagnostic and you don't know if the placement of your remote mode is any good until a lengthy test period. Not with Amplifi HD.

The main router unit has an attractive design with an equally attractive, yet practical touchscreen display that shows you various diagnostic data. You can use the free iOS application from Amplifi to install and configure your network, or you can opt to simply use the touchscreen.

The main router also has a total of 5 usable 10/100/1000 ethernet ports. Other vendors offer only two and one of them needs to be used for your ISP internet connection.

Since the two Wi-Fi nodes are pre-configured to communicate with the main router out of the box, Amplifi HD offers easily the fastest setup of your mesh network as compared to other vendors. Simply plug them in and you're done. You can buy additional nodes if you need more than the two that come with the kit.

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Networking InterfaceWi-Fi/Gigabit Ethernet (1) WAN, (4) LAN
Maximum Power Consumption11W
Antennas(3) Dual-Band Antennas
Display1.6" (40.6 mm) Diagonal, 240 x 240, 212 ppi, G+F Touch, Full Color
Wi-Fi Standards802.11b/g/a/n/ac
Wireless SecurityWPA2-PSK AES/TKIP

Amplifi also offers an add-on called the Amplifi Teleport that in essence creates a secure connection to your home network when you are traveling similar to a VPN to your home network. You bring the portable Teleport with you and it automagically creates a connection for you to connect to home either via Wi-Fi or ethernet.

One last thing I'd like to mention is that setting up your Amplifi HD doesn't require you to create an account or use a Facebook or Google account. There is a remote management option that does require an account login but if you don't need that feature, you can simply bypass that all together.

What you'll hate about the Amplifi HD

The Wi-Fi nodes. Other than the LEDs status indicators and plug and play capabilities, I have very little love for them. They are ugly. The stick out way to far from my wall and would stick out more if I needed to adjust the antenna for better reception. For example, my dog knocked one out of its magnetic joint as she ran by.

The Wi-Fi nodes also allow for only a single direction to plug them in. So if you have reversed plug outlets like I do, then your mesh node will be upside down and you've no recourse to have them orient any other direction.

Finally, and this may be just a sign of my wont to use older technology in my home, there are no ethernet ports on the mesh nodes. I have older machines with poor/no Wi-Fi capabilities that I like to have plugged into a hardline. Amplifi HD only has ports on the main router unit. I need ports on the remote nodes as well. I have computers stuck in all extremes of my home and some of them do not have easy access to a hardline. Adding an ethernet port to the remote node would go a long way for me.

Amplifi HD bottom line

Amplifi HD shows its Apple Airport pedigree with its easy to configure, just plug-it-in-and-go setup. Amplifi has created an attractive main router unit that is accessible both with or without an iOS app. Mesh Wi-Fi couldn't be simpler. The network speeds are fast and reliable and I must note that I didn't have any hiccups or network dropouts during my entire week of testing whether it be using in-home streaming on Steam or my day to day network usage.

However, the Wi-Fi mesh nodes need some improvements. The large wand-like antenna stick way to far out of the wall socket, are unsightly, and can only be oriented in a single direction. I would forgive the bulky size of the mesh nodes if they offered one or two ethernet ports as an option but alas, they do not.

If you need a simple to get-up-and-running, yet easily accessible and practical mesh Wi-Fi home network without the need for older remote devices needing hardline access, then the Amplifi HD Home Kit is a winner in all of those regards. If you can get over the aesthetics and bulkiness of the mesh nodes, then the $340 price is also a winner when it comes to home mesh kits. If you have any questions or comments, let us know.

See at Amplifi

Anthony Casella