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!
Approximately $340Bottom line: Provides a mostly attractive Wi-Fi mesh home network quickly and easily. Touchscreen display and LED status signals allows for configuration with or without an iOS app.
- High build quality.
- Attractive main unit design.
- Touchscreen display.
- Multiple ethernet ports on main unit.
- LED signal strength display on Wi-Fi nodes.
- Configurable without an app.
- Wi-Fi nodes are unsightly.
- Wi-Fi nodes are devoid of an ethernet port for remote hardline connections.
- Wi-Fi nodes jut out too far from the outlet.
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 (opens in new tab) 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.
|Networking Interface||Wi-Fi/Gigabit Ethernet (1) WAN, (4) LAN|
|Maximum Power Consumption||11W|
|Antennas||(3) Dual-Band Antennas|
|Display||1.6" (40.6 mm) Diagonal, 240 x 240, 212 ppi, G+F Touch, Full Color|
|Wireless Security||WPA2-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.
I have an Amplifi system composed of 2 routers and no Mesh nodes. Note that on an individual basis, a router is only slightly more expensive than a mesh node and can assume the functionality of a mesh node. In addition, of course, it has multiple Ethernet ports enabling wired connectivity everywhere. As a further bonus, if you are converting a house that has an Ethernet cabling, you can use it as the backhaul circuit enabling even higher WiFi speeds for your devices.
I have the same setup with an ethernet backbone connecting them. Works like a charm: great coverage, easy firmware updates, fast. I wired my house years ago and I need to pull Cat 6 cabling to replace my Cat 5 but even the Cat 5 I have is extremely fast. Their online community has lots of activity and users up there answer questions fast. I wish there was more then an iOS app to control the AmpliFi, they need to flesh out their bare bones web interface for control so it can be done on a computer. And, the iOS app needs a badge when firmware updates are available. Otherwise you have to remember to check the LCD on the router or dig into the app to see. Those are small issues and easy to fix. I'm liking my new setup very much.
Interesting info on the CEO of Ubiquiti Networks, the parent company for the Amplifi product(s). No wonder it just works. https://blog.amplifi.com/2016/12/06/the-evolution-of-home-wi-fi/ I love my Amplifi router. Its like an exclusive club. Every time i do a Wi-Fi scan in my neighborhood, I have yet to see a Ubiquiti Networks router, but plenty of Netgears, Arris Group, or Pegatrons. Its nice to being a small and hard target. WPA2 helps as well of course.