An Ideal Mainstream Wi-Fi System

Highs

  • Easy to install
  • Small and discreet
  • Fast

Lows

  • Requires a smartphone
  • Lacks advanced router settings
  • Samsung Connect app needs improvements

Rating and Price

  • Rating: 8/10

The Samsung Connect Home (model AC1300) is a WIFI mesh network system that has several features which are highly desired by users. First, it provides a wireless connection to the whole home and helps to eliminate “coverage holes.” Secondly, it has been designed to be simply to install and configure. Finally, it is also a smart home hub so you won’t have to set up more “boxes” to control simple “smart appliances” such as sensors, smart bulbs, alarms and more. We’ve been putting it to the test, and here is how it worked in the real world.

Context

I’m very familiar with modem and routers and used a variety of them, usually high-performance ones. Occasionally, I have setup some forwarding inside my network, but I would instead find a cloud solution to that, so these edge cases are not my priority. I’ll look at this WiFi system from the point of view of someone who just wants a fast and reliable WiFi network with very little effort.

What is a Mesh Network, and why is it different than WiFi repeaters

First, we should define what a “mesh” WiFi network is.

WiFi coverage and signal strength issues are obviously not new. Previously, WiFi users had the option to extend wireless coverage by using WiFi extenders/repeaters or creating secondary networks. Although that approach somewhat worked for fixed devices, there were points of friction such as possibly having separate networks for each repeater, or setting up different passwords, or having to configure one with the password of the other. None of it was smooth, and that is the reason why many people (including me) would rather complain about WiFi coverage than do something about it.

Also, because old-style WiFi extensions they were different networks, it could happen that you connect your phone to an access point (AP) in your basement/family room, but when you go to the living room, the network would not be smart enough to “hand over” the connection to your living room as long as you have a little bit of signal from the basement AP. You will stay connected to the last-used WiFi device, even if it has a lousy signal. It is only when you lose the signal entirely that your phone will try to reconnect to a better, closer network.

Mesh Networks

"MESH NETWORKS APPEAR AS A SINGLE,VERY WIDE, WIFI NETWORK"

Mesh networks appear as a single,very wide, WiFi network, despite using several APs. Access Points (also called Nodes in a network) can communicate on a peer-to-peer basis to extend the range of the network.

Mesh networks also know how to hand-over the connection to the access point which has the best signal. This is very important for mobile devices because it means that you always have the best possible WiFi connection, and you don’t have to think about it at all. This is similar to how the cellular network is built with many cell towers that will transparently hand-over connections as you move around town.

Finally, the APs communicate among themselves with a private WiFi-based network, which is more efficient and less prone to latency when compared to setting up repeaters, or sub-networks.

Let’s be clear: Mesh Networks are highly convenient and the best thing that happened to WiFi for the past 10 years. But keep in mind that the APs are still subject to the same laws of physics governing general WiFi radios. You will need to make sure that each box can communicate decently with at least another one. Every obstacle in the home (walls, appliances, etc…) will diminish the signal between two APs.

Overall product rating: 8/10

Filed in Home >Reviews. Read more about Routers and WiFi.

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