The Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien is an expensive black Wi-Fi 6 internet tube that promises super-fast wifi and a unique, enjoyable user experience that is as intuitive as these things are likely to be. The touch screen on the main unit is perhaps as close as it ever gets intimidating, with a Matrixgreen vertical version full of graphs and numbers, but I think most people who want to will understand its contents easily. I want to imagine when I look at the decisions about the physical design and software user interface, that someone asked Ubiquiti if it was the color green, and that the company responded with wedding photos of the Zoom ceremony taking place in a responsible manner after the heavy shadow came. Although green, the whole thing is so conspicuously frictionless, geeky and luxurious, in a way that only things that ever cost a lot of money can do.
For real. This thing is spendable. A single stranger sells for $ 380, and you can make an extra contribution $ 320 for the mesh unit, with its almost-superficial surface and single Ethernet LAN / WAN port. if you’re thinking of just buying the master cylinder and replenishing it with smaller AmpliFi units, think again Bucko. This puppy is only compatible with other alien routers! That said, it’s not expensive relative to the other mesh Wi-Fi 6 systems, as long as you compare apples to apples. At a total of $ 700 for a pair, it’s only $ 50 more than the Wi-Fi 6 Netgear Orbi, while the Linksys MX10 Velop clocks in at the same $ 700 if you buy two (one Alien is actually cheaper than a single Velop). The specifications for each are impressive, and the only consensus among them seems to be that they everyone costs too much money, which yes, but it seems Ubiquiti is trying a little harder to mitigate the blow.
When you start opening the package – which feels like you’re removing a power cell from a starship or something – and you take out one of the heavy, soft, material-covered alien aliens, it’s clear that Ubiquiti wanted it. to feel that you made the right call when you complied with the 0% financing transaction on your credit card. Even the setup of one minute feels lush, with pleasant colors emitted by a way-better-than-it-should-be-loudspeaker, and a MeshPoint setup that is as easy as plugging it in. The AmpliFi app is great, and while not exactly bad with options, it still offers a decent amount of configuration options relative to other mesh alternatives. For example, I like that I can not only turn the status LED and the touch screen on or off, but also adjust their brightness and set a nightly schedule.
When I go to rest to review a new router, I usually have to block an entire afternoon just for the troubleshooting of all the smart devices that can not connect before I reset it in the factory, which brings all sorts of frustrations in a smart home . , and irritate my family. This is the first time I have set up a new router for review and have looked at all 35 wireless devices just connect. I waited the next week for something to fail and it simply never happened. Such opulence!
There are now some compromises to note. First, even though you have a three-band router in the deal, one of the bands only pushes 5 GHz 802.11ac, while the other 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands do 802.11ax. The Alien uses the 802.11ax 5 GHz band as wireless feedback for communication between the two routers, which means that you will share your traffic with the return traffic. The solution is to use Ethernet to pull back or to store the mesh, but most people do not want to use long Ethernet cable if it is not yet there, or if you buy a mesh router and do not use the mesh. There are also no USB ports on the AmpliFi Alien, nor are there any Ethernet ports that offer more than 1 Gbps. For most people, these things do not really matter – gigabit internet is still difficult to access, much less faster than that, and if you’re honestly thinking about buying this router, you’re probably not using it it for direct storage or to get your internet from a 4G cellular signal. We like our options, don’t we?
Listen, here’s the thing: my internet plan is not unbelievable quickly. It’s definitely not slow by current standards – 300 Mbps is more than enough to stream multiple 4K videos simultaneously while listening to music while play while shouting at tubes to tell you how many half cups are in a cup. My old neat 802.11ac network gave me fast internet in the outer parts of my garden. The thing is, you are not buying a Wi-Fi 6 router because 802.11ac is a slow standard. You do this because Wi-Fi 6 is a much better multitasker.
For that, you can blame the Multi-Input Multi-Output (MU-MIMO) for multiple users, and the equally memorable cousin, Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). Thanks to the increasing presence of portable and smart devices, our networks are growing in complexity, as well as the demand we place on our network hardware. These acronyms bring order to the chaos by having your router send broadcasts to each of your many devices in multiple spatial streams (ideal for games or video calls) or simultaneous, slightly distorted data packets destined for multiple clients in one channel. OFDMA, which uses the latest technique, is particularly cool and that’s why 802.11ax is so good for a home where many smart devices’ data packets whistle. If you want to read about it, I recommend this layout, and if you want good visualizations, I like it this video.
There is no indication that the Alien does any of this better than its primary competitors and others. judges found to be defective. I have not yet personally tested its most direct competition, but I have tested other Wi-Fi 6 routers, and in comparison, the numbers were reasonable, but not exceptional. With one Alien, I saw full ISP speeds up to 45 feet further, outside my home, but about a third the throughput 80 meters back, with some trees and things in the way. When I add a MeshPoint, I see a heavier fall at 45 feet, but better speed at the back of my yard. Compared to the fastest other Wi-Fi 6 router I tested – TP-Link’s Archer AX6000 – the download speed was slower from 45 feet, although the upload speeds were almost as maximum as possible all the time.
Of course, numbers do not tell the whole story, and in one of the two configurations I was struck by the little attention I paid to myself. Because of the timing of my vacation, I lived with the Alien system during a very demanding time, because my wife and I are both at home, and we do more of just about everything – streaming, games, video calls. All the while, I did exactly no troubleshooting of the network, and it was great.
Aside from the network performance, I was pretty instantly mesmerized by the slight extravagances you would not see in a normal router. Brightness adjustment for the touch screen and LED ring at the bottom of the cylinder. A router control switch so you can make sure a device stays connected to the port unit for as long as possible. A speaker on which you can legally listen to music, but which you will almost never hear outside the initial setting. Haptic feedback on the touch screen. A Pi-Hole-style DNA ad blocker that Ubiquiti doesn’t even really promote – it’s just there and waiting for you to find it.
It even has a VPN that lets you route traffic through your home network before going to the wider internet and masking your IP address as it goes. Like hand-stitched leather on dainty car upholstery, none of it is necessary; it is equivalent to rich mahogany and leather-bound books. But these are the kind of features that you add to your list of nice things when you look at other routers, and it might just be enough to push this one up when you compare it to its primary competition, depending on how you feel about some of the omissions – it does not have a USB port for direct storage, or the lack of WPA3 or a wireless protocol like Thread with low power for smart homes, like Thread.
Many of these features are already available on the AmpliFi HD. And actually that’s all that the Alien is: an AmpliFi HD, but more. Wider coverage, twice the area of its predecessor, much greater traffic capacity at a theoretical 7685 Mbps (compared to 1700 Mbps on the HD) and 8×8 MU-MIMO – that’s more than two times the MU-MIMOs! It is future-proof, even if it anchors itself perhaps a little more in the now than you would hope.
In general, the Alien mesh system has enough. It’s fast, reliable and I don ‘t have to think about it – in my opinion these are the three pillars of Good Internet, and all the others attract. Does that justify the price? Hell no, but I’m willing to bet that those who do drop money on the AmpliFi Alien are not a deplorable purchase.
- It’s incredibly expensive.
- It’s incredibly luxurious.
- The Alien features a touch screen with haptic feedback, switch for the various lights, a built-in VPN and a built-in ad blocker.
- The lack of USB or wire is difficult at this price. But not completely missed.