The Automated Home Wi-Fi network is critical. If there’s even a blip in service the family seem to go into melt down.
So when the guys at LinITX told us about their new Xclaim WAPs our ears pricked up. The range currently consists of 1 outdoor and 3 indoor units and although they are aimed at SMB and small office-home office (SOHO) users Xclaim describe them as “Wi-Fi for the Non-IT Guy”, promoting their ease of setup. They recommend them for networks of up to 10 access points and up to 100 users.
Some of our new MacBooks and iPhones now support the new fast 802.11ac standard so we were keen to try the Xclaim Xi-3, a dual-band, dual-radio (simultaneous 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz) AP that supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with aggregated throughputs of up to 1.167 Gigabits per second.
In The Box
In the box you’ll find the unit itself, which is similar in looks to the first generation Apple Time Capsule although slightly smaller 15.8 cm x 15.8 cm x 4 cm. It’ll sit nicely on a desktop or if you prefer there’s a wall mounting plate included plus T-Bar clips to mount it to a suspended ceilings in a commercial setting.
It comes with a Power over Ethernet injector, we really like PoE as it means running a single cable (there are 2 ethernet cables are included in the box too). Xclaim say the unit ‘typically’ consumes around 6 watts in use.
That latest firmware (version 220.127.116.11.89 reviewed) also brings with it a new web interface to monitor and configure the unit. It’s fairly sparse for now though with only the basics available in your browser window.
You can create up to 4 separate Wi-Fi networks (SSIDs) per Access Point and you can assign different SSIDs to the 2.4GHz and 5Ghz bands.
Xclaim is made by Ruckus and features their ‘multiple polarization antenna’ (PD-MRC) technology.
We currently use 3 Apple access points to cover the whole house. We replaced them with this single unit siting it fairly centrally upstairs. Impressively it reached almost the entire house, just cutting out at the extremes of one side. In our test the 5GHz network held on well too, measuring only marginally weaker than the lower frequencies more easily propagating signal. Network speeds seemed on a power with the Apple setup too.
One strange thing we noticed was our Sky+ iPhone App only worked if we were on the 5GHz SSID, refusing to work on the 2.4GHz one (it worked fine on either with the Apple setup). Also when scanning our LAN (using the excellent Debookee Mac app) it could not see devices connected to the other SSID. Again this was not the case when using our old setup. If you’re looking for more family friendly features (timed access for example) you may again be better off looking at the Apple Airport Extreme which costs around £10 more.
It seems unusual that these units initially shipped without any browser interface and reading through the Xclaim support forums it’s clear that this is a product that’s still in its infancy. It will probably take several more firmware updates to mature to the level of its competitors.
The Xclaim APs start at around £70 for the i1 with this i3 version reviewed costing around £160. That compares to £225 for the Ubiquity UniFi 802.11ac equivalent so there’s a lot to like about the price and although there are some issues with the current feature set we can’t fault the i3’s speed and especially its range around the Automated Home.