Irma took me out for a few days, but I’m back!
Lately I’ve been trying to make sure all of the tech at my girlfriend’s home can actually be managed by her, should I be hit by a bus and fall into a coma. I was in the process of building a Sophos XG UTM, decided to buy a Circle instead. Kids needed a computer, so I got them an LG ChomeBase instead of going through the hassle of making Windows secure and kid-safe. She had some home automation going with a Wink Hub, Echo Dots, and an assortment of LED smart bulbs, so I handed down my EcoBee3 when I upgraded to the 4.
The EdgeRouter PoE and UAP-AC-Lite combo were the remaining weakest link in terms of self-management and control. The ER is wholly unsuitable for mere mortals, and while the UAP could theoretically be reset and managed entirely via the phone app… that would be another hassle to deal with in my absence.
And I also had a coverage gap I wanted to address. I’d place her AP in an alcove to keep everything neat and tidy, but it’s a horrible spot for 5GHz propagation to the back patio where I often work. Dropping a UAP-AC-M or UAP-AC-Lite near the area and using the wireless uplink feature would have solved it, but that’s adding more complexity where I want less.
Enter AmpliFi Mesh:
The early reviews on this product weren’t all glowing, from the technologist’s perspective it has a number of compromises and a purposeful lack of features, but from the I want a multi-AP setup that the girlfriend can easily manage from her phone perspective it ticks all the boxes. Since the initial launch they’ve simplified the product line, the Base and LR mesh kits are gone and the HD Mesh kit has dropped a couple hundred bucks down to $349 retail. I picked up a used kit on eBay for $200-ish and I’m not sure which version it is.
I’ve configured the system in bridge mode behind the EdgeRouter while I figure out how to replicate my site-to-site VPN. The Mesh units are placed in the laundry room downstairs and the hallway upstairs, and I am bathing in glorious 5GHz coverage where previously it was spotty. I’m sure it’s not the absolute fastest using 2.4GHz for backhaul but the Internet connection here is ~60Mb/s and I’ve no trouble achieving that throughout the home despite this being an apartment complex with a bazillion 2.4GHz APs in view.
So far, I’m liking it a lot… it addressed my pain points at an affordable price and is gorgeous to boot. Since I’m just using the wireless functions there isn’t much to dislike, but one minor nit is that it doesn’t support Guest access in bridge mode.
Would recommend for situations where an EdgeRouter / USG + UAPs are overkill and a high-quality simple solution is desirable.
Update: Troy Hunt put together a thorough review of an AmpliFi install with lots of screenshots.