About a year ago I decided to replace my aging Linksys access point that was beginning to cause a fair amount of trouble. One problem is that it would freeze on a weekly basis and had to be power-cycled to fix it. Range was also an issue. I wanted the signal to reach another building on our property that was about 200 ft away. In order to make that happen, I had purchased a pair of range extender antennas for the unit. This allowed internet access in the other building, but the signal was very weak and not all devices were sensitive enough to be able to connect to it.
After some searching, I decided to get a Unifi Long Range access point from Ubiquity. Shortly after I purchased it I recorded a video showing the unboxing and setup, as well as my initial thoughts. Now that I’ve used it for some time, it’s time for a more in-depth review.
Ease of setup and use
Setting up a Unifi access point is different from most other access points in a similar price range. Instead of having a built-in web-based administration interface, it requires that you install the controller software on your computer. The controller software runs on Windows or a MAC, and you can also download a Linux version from the Ubuquity website. Once the controller software is installed, then you use a web-browser to configure the unit much the same way as you would any other access point. For most of the features of the Unifi, the controller software doesn’t have to be running – you only launch it when you need to change the configuration. A few businesses oriented features such as captive portal need the controller software to be running in order to function.
For home use, the controller software doesn’t give you any major benefit, and it takes a little more effort to use than a built-in web-base administration interface. However, where the controller software becomes useful is when you have two or more access points. The controller software allows you to configure common settings such as SSID in one place, and it gives you lots of statistics on who is using wifi and what AP they are connecting to.
Some enterprise access points use a hardware controller. The problem with them is that if the hardware controller fails, you have to get a replacement to get things working again. With a software controller you can move the controller function to another server in minutes and be back up and running.
The range of the Unifi access point is leaps and bounds better than my old Linksys. With the Unifi, any device can connect from any building on my property. In fact, I can manually set the power of the AP one notch back from the highest setting so it’s not using full power, and the coverage is still sufficient.
For a business-class access point, it’s hard to find an access point with all the features of the Unifi without spending a lot more money. For home use, it’s still a good value, but there are other good choices. I’ve been impressed with the models I’ve used by Engenius. Although Engenius isn’t as well-known a brand as many others, I’ve found that they beat the more well-known brands in price, features, and reliability. But if you’re looking for business class features on a budget, go with a Ubuquity Unifi.
The model I purchased can be found on amazon by clicking here.