review

Zyxel AC2100 Multy-U Tri Band Wifi Mesh Network

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

With a futuristic shaped breathing light design, the Zyxel AC2100 Multy-U is a powerful solution that solves most Wifi problems, including network capacity, Wifi signal dead spots, network bandwidth hogs, slow Internet connections and more.
You probably have heard of the terms Wifi extenders, Wifi mesh network, powerline adapters, router, Wifi router, Wifi repeaters, Access Point (AP) Wifi access point, Wireless Access Point (WAP), WDS, Wifi 6 and modem. Aside from Wifi 6, which is not supported. The Zyxel AC2100 Multy-U system doubles as a WAP, repeater and Wifi mesh network all rolled into one.
Wifi repeaters and Wifi extenders are actually the same thing and are designed to extend the coverage area of a WiFi network. Wifi extenders/repeaters basically re-broadcast the quality of the Wifi signal it receives, nothing more.
A router is the Access Point (AP) that you need in order for the Zyxel Multy U to work. Once connected, you can connect your computer and other devices to receive Internet connection from an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Some routers have Wifi built-in; hence the term Wifi router, which lets you connect Ethernet devices, as well as wireless devices.
A non-wireless device cannot be connected to a Wifi router, unless you use a Wifi access point (or wireless access point), which basically converts a non-wireless device (i.e. wired network printer or Ethernet printer) into a wireless devices so, you can connect them to your router network and access them via your computer.
Some wireless access points support Repeater mode and Bridge mode, including the Zyxel AC2100 Multy-U, which eliminates the need of a dedicated Wifi repeater. A wireless access point that supports Bridge mode lets you link two routers together. By connecting two routers together, you can cleverly extend the range of a Wifi signal, while increasing the number of devices that can connect to an Internet network.
The capacity of most home Internet networks is up to 45 devices connected simultaneously so, by connecting two routers together you can increase that number to 90 or so devices. With three Multy U nodes, you can serve a 6,000 square feet area and be able to connect up to 128 devices without encountering lag, thanks to its tri band Wifi technology, which uses one 2.4GHz radio band and two 5GHz radio bands. The maximum number of Multy U units you can add per network is four.
Another nifty way to transmit Wifi signal while boosting and increasing the signal is via a "Flash Router" or stock router that has installed DD-WRT or Tomato open-source firmware, which lets you do cool things you can't with a stock router. These include boosting the Wifi signal, manually regulate bandwidth hogging and network overloads, as well as set up port forwarding so, you can access your computer remotely.
Using DD-WRT won't be for the faint of heart as there is a bit of a learning curve, making a solution like the Multy-U tri band Wifi very appealing because it also lets you access your computer remotely via myZyXELcloud.
A wireless access point that supports WDS (Wireless Distribution System) is probably the closest thing to a mesh network because it lets you expand a wireless network, using multiple access points without the need for a wired backbone to link them.
Being the latest trend, mesh networking comes with a high price tag but it is a sound Wifi solution though, there are cheaper ways to create an effective yet, inexpensive mesh network for your home by putting a few wireless routers in AP mode and placing them in different rooms of your home to effectively increase Wifi signal and coverage from room to room (as well as gain extra LAN ports in the process, which is nice).
If your expertise of routers and Wifi networks isn't up to par or prefer an easier approach, buying a ready mesh network solution like the Zyxel AC2100 Multy-U is the way to go. The neat thing about the Zyxel Multy-U solution is that it's capable of wireless and wired connections and can be controlled via a mobile app - Multy U.
The Multy U app lets you do cool things like running Internet speed tests, carry out firmware updates, receive notifications, gain remote access from anywhere, set up additional WiFi networks for guests to keep the primary network private. Besides app control, the Zyxel Multy U system can be controlled via Amazon Alexa voice control.
The Ethernet ports on each Multy U (WSR30) are rated at 1 Gbps, which is super fast but to benefit from all that data transfer speed you have to use Ethernet cables that support Gigabit. A Gigabit cable is included with each Multy U, which is nice.
The Zyxel Multy U Wifi system is a far superior technology to Wifi extenders, wireless access points and powerline adapters because it features a WAN port that would allow you to create a point-to-point Internet connection (a.k.a. T3 line or Digital Signal 3/DS3) with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) that would be capable of transmitting up to 44.736 Mbps.

The WAN port feature on the Multy U makes this solution even better than the NWA1123-AC Access Point for home office use or home business. This solution wouldn't work for organizations though, because the Multy U system doesn't use WPA2 Enterprise, which offers enterprise-grade authentication. Instead, the Multy U uses WPA2 Personal, which uses pre-shared keys (PSK).
The Zyxel Multy U uses one 5 GHz connection to connect between Multy U units, and broadcasts with the remaining 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz signals via six MU-MIMO antennas. The two 5 GHz channels run at 866Mbps each and the 2.4Ghz channel runs at 300Mbps. The dedicated backhaul feature lets you choose between 5Ghz backhaul and Ethernet backhaul for better overall connectivity.
If you like what DD-WRT OpenSource firmware has to offer, you will like the Multi U system because it offers the functionality and flexibility of DD-WRT OpenSource firmware without the learning curve,.
You can do neat things like manage data traffic (QoS), monitor and diagnose the network, setup parental control, get automatic firmware updates, setup port forwarding manually and automatically via UPnP, natively connect directly over an IPv6 network, create a separate DMZ network and NAT firewall if you need people to access your network from the Internet.
On the back of the the Zyxel AC2100 Multy-U, you find a DC power port, a reset button inside a pinhole, a LAN Ethernet port and a WAN Ethernet port, both of which support auto MDI/MDIX, which automatically detects the Ethernet cable inserted so it can automatically configure the connection appropriately.
Onboard each Multy U, you get 256 MB ram and 5120 MB flash memory. The Multy U Wifi mesh system connects via Bluetooth 4.1 to any mobile device running the Multy U app. Power consumption per unit is around 14 watts with the leds turned on. There is a physical led power button that is designed to let you turn the x-shaped led light on and off.
Each Multy U unit measures 175mm wide, 158mm deep and 95mm high, weighs 864 grams, and it's powered by a 12V 1.5A power adapter. Included in the box is also a thin leather strap for hanging the Multy U units on a wall.

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