devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus Review Cross Band Mu-mimo Wifi Extender

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

One of the many advantages of rooms with open plan living is having no walls. This not only makes a home appear larger but, it also creates the perfect environment for a wireless network. Fortunately, there are many ways to improve the Wifi coverage and speed up the Internet speed without taking drastic action like knocking down walls or attaching the router to a ceiling fan so, it flings Wifi signals everywhere! Two of those solutions are using a powerline adapter kit like the Magic 2 Wifi next or a Wifi boost extender like the devolo WiFi AC Repeater Plus - seen pictured.
The devolo WiFi AC Repeater Plus is able to boost speeds up to 1200 Mbps by using cross band repeating, which is the same technology used to extend the range of handheld ham radios by having the radio receive signal on very high frequency (VHF) and transmit that signal back out on ultra high frequency (UHF) and viceversa.
Instead of using UHF and VHF radio waves, the devolo WiFi AC Repeater Plus uses 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz radio bands to increase transfer rates in the Wifi network, as well as multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) beamforming, which is a neat useful feature to have if you have a lot of wireless devices that demand a lot of bandwidth. MU-MIMO allows you to connect multiple wireless devices to the devolo WiFi AC Repeater Plus at the same time and without slowing down the network.
A lot of Wifi extenders and routers (especially older models) use single-user MIMO (SU-MIMO), which works well when you connect devices for low data applications like browsing the Internet. However, the minute you start streaming videos, the Internet speed drops, causing lag and buffering. MU-MIMO breaks up the Internet bandwidth and pushes it directly to the connected devices, using beamforming technology. This basically means the devolo WiFi AC Repeater Plus projects (literary) the Wifi signal to the connected devices like a laser beam, even if the device is on the move.
With MU-MIMO integration, the devices don't have to wait their turn to connect, which significantly improves the speed of the Internet, making downloading faster and without choppy video streaming. One thing to note about MU-MIMO though, it's that your connected devices have to support MU-MIMO.
Setting up the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus is straight forward and can be done two ways after the repeater has been plugged into a wall socket. The devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus can be setup using WPS or a mobile app - the devolo Home Network app. Using WPS is the easiest way since all you have to do is press a button on the repeater and then, press the WPS push button on the router to manually pair and connect the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus to the router. All routers have this WPS function but on some routers WPS goes by different names such as Wi-Fi Simple Config, Push 'n' Connect, PBC or Quick Secure Setup (QSS).
Once connected, you can start using the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus. To change and access settings, you will need to download the devolo Cockpit desktop software. If you already have the Cockpit software installed from another devolo hardware, the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus will show up automatically, alongside the other devolo adapters you own, which is a neat way to manage them in one single place.The Cockpit software has a clean and easy to use user interface, using a flowchart design to represent the workflow and current connection speed of the adapter. If you own several devolo adapters, the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus will show up on the next page, which can be accessed by clicking on the blue/grey arrow box.

Hovering over the device brings up the link to the adapter settings (gears symbol), which takes you to a browser interface where you can view useful information such as latest firmware version, current channel for the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands and operation mode (repeater mode or access point mode).
Repeater mode is design for extending the existing Wifi from your router, while access point lets you create a new wireless network. If you already have wireless and you want to improve a Wi-Fi dead-zone (weak wireless), you will be using repeater mode, although you have to manually enable this since access point mode is enabled by default. 
There are two ways to connect the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus as an access point to your main router. You can do it without cables by connecting the Repeater Plus wirelessly to the router and, you can also use an Ethernet cable, which provides better performance but, it also means losing one of the two Ethernet ports. Both ways let you harness the full Wifi potential of your router without losing significant performance like you can when using some Wifi extenders as access points. Some Wifi extenders can decrease the router's Wifi speed performance by as much as half. The reason why the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus is able to provide full Wifi speed, it's because of its dual band integration, each being capable of 130 Mbps (2.4Ghz) and 780 Mbps (5Ghz). 
Downloading the devolo Home Network app is also worthwhile because it's a simplified version of the desktop Cockpit software and lets you see key features at a glance like repeater proximity so, you know how far or how close the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus is to the router. Another plus feature about the devolo app is that it's extremely user friendly. There is no account signup required. Simply download the app, run it and the app automatically picks up the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus.
Once you have the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus configured in a specific way, you can save and download the configuration settings to a local file. To get the best performance out of the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus, you want to keep "Mesh Wifi" enabled as this activates "band steering" to allow the Repeater Plus to automatically choose the less congested band, which is typically the 5GHz band. The devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus measures 15.2cm high, 7.6cm wide and 8cm deep so, it has a similar footprint to other devolo adapters such as the dLAN 1200 Triple Plus.
As always, the bottom line when you're experiencing poor Wifi performance it's to do some initial troubleshooting to find out the source of the problem. This is a good idea before investing in any Wifi solution since the solution might just be as simple as re-locating the router. Generally speaking though, free routers supplied by Internet providers tend to be the weakest point of a Wifi network. A top quality router can set up off a couple hundred quid, making the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus a more affordable choice plus, it is compatible with all routers. You can buy the devolo WiFi ac Repeater Plus from devolo and amazon. Check out the review of the devolo Mesh Wifi 2

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