... This is Part 2 of my Beacon 1 review. Part 1 can be found here.
The Nokia WiFi app design is quite good and overall I like the UX, though there are some bugs here and there (like everything else). The dashboard radar shows the devices marked in numbers to signify the strength of the connection. The list of devices appear below and when I tap on them, it lists the device details like which node it is connected to, device information including transmit and receive rate.
2 things on this page that are unique and I like. First, I can choose the Wi-Fi band to connect the devices to – 2.4GHz (N) or 5GHz (AC). Second, I can enable email notification if the device encounters poor network experience. I will receive two emails: one is when it’s poor, and another one when it’s good.
On this page, there is also another option called “Connect To”. This is where you can assign each device to a “Family Profile”. In this profile, you can configure schedules on the timings that the devices should be disabled from the Internet, as well as website filters by blacklisting websites.
Under the Advanced Settings, you can also customise some network features like choosing networking mode (DHCP/ Static/ PPPoE/ Bridge), DNS, Port Forwarding, IP Address Reservations, UPnP. But if that’s not enough, you can access the router admin portal directly from the web browser, just like a traditional router.
Router Admin Portal Experience
Like most wireless routers, Nokia Mesh 1 allows you to access the admin portal when you enter the primary node’s internal IP address (192.168.x.1) on your web brower.
The portal presents quite a list of functions that you will find in traditional routers. Here, you can set up more stringent security filters by IP, MAC, URL, Firewall, DMZ, ALG.
Then there are the usual application-based config like port forwarding, port triggering, DNS, NTP UPnP. For network-related settings, you can define the wireless bandwidth, strength, channel, number of users. While most config are self-explanatory, few are unusually complex, for instance, QoS Config.
I like the Status -> Home Networking page, where they list down the inventory of the devices, present and past, active and inactive, including connection type, IP address, MAC address, last active time.
Initially StarHub provided 2 review units, which worked sufficiently well for most areas of my apartment – except my child’s room. This is known to be a problematic place for all previous routers I have tested over the years. So I requested for an additional unit to properly compare with my existing mesh setup. Strangely, it also could not resolve the coverage issue in my daughter’s room, as I noticed the devices in the room latched to either the living room node or the bedroom node.
My last resort was to move the third node into her room. In my previous mesh reviews, this would still not work reliably, because logically, if the room had a weak network coverage, putting another mesh would just extend the weak signal. But somehow, the Mesh 1 works pretty well in this layout. No complaints from my daughter since then.
Another plausible reason explained by the Nokia local tech support is that the affected devices have “sticky client issue” where they could not switch to the nearest mesh node. In any case, the smartphone app comes in handy to diagnose the problem, which was not visible in many other mesh products.
With a spec of AC1200, the Beacon 1 supports 300 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz (2X2 MIMO) and 867 Mbps on the 5GHz (2X2 MIMO). When running speed tests near the nodes, I get about 340Mbps. At the farthest part of the room – my bedroom toilet – I can still get about 80Mbps. Just like all previous router tests, I do not rely solely on speed tests as they have too many factors. Even if you are running the test one after another, you will still get different results. So my best way to tell how good the router works is by real people giving real feedback – my family.
One thing to note is that the routers should be placed in an open area, and not in an enclosed space like storeroom (especially with thick doors) or cabinet. This would definitely have an impact to the overall mesh performance. If you experience some network stability issues, this is the first thing you should look into.
As a StarHub customer signing up for a new or recontract Broadband service, I would use Beacon 1 and buy a few additional units to put in every room. This is going to almost guarantee you will have great WiFi performance to make use of the full bandwidth that you signed up for.
I am also delighted to find that the units do not get too hot. They feel warm, but many other mesh nodes run at pretty high temperatures.
While Nokia lost its race in the mobile device market, they have strengthened their networking equipment portfolio. The Beacon 1 demonstrates their innovation in design and functionality, offering experiences that are both unique and refreshing.
The Nokia WiFi Beacon 1 is available free through signing up StarHub Broadband or HomeHub service. Each unit purchased from StarHub comes with 2-year local warranty by StarHub. Visit the following official links for more information:
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