With the dramatic increase in wifi-enabled devices in offices and homes – from printers to Internet-of-Things, mobile devices and home security systems – the bandwidth is becoming awfully crowded and WiFi-6/WiFi-5 routers simply don’t have what it takes to cope with the workload hitting them day-in and day-out. WiFi-6 is now becoming the must-have tech, and optimising the through-put with technologies such as AI-monitoring and BSS Colouring is an essential component. However, big-spec gear carries with it big price tags, and a lot of people simply can’t justify buying over-spec gear for the home environment. It is in this ‘enough without being too much or too expensive’ bracket where the Eagle AI Pro range really shines, and at the heart of it all is the R15 AX1500 Smart Router.
Tech in the home is a lot like food – your first taste of it is going to be how it looks, and this is a stylish, if somewhat unorthodox, bit of kit. Firmly in line with current trends, the case is primarily white, however, it is accented with a baby-blue underbelly that lifts it off any near-white surface you put it on. With its angular style, it says “future tech” without being too far ‘out there’ for the average person. Because it is dual-band – 2.4GHz and 5GHz – but only carries a single stream for each, there are only four external aerials so it won’t give you that creepy cyber-spider vibe as you walk past it at 2am.
Setup and integration is quite simple – D-Link has invested a serious amount of time and money into making their gear almost self-installing these days, so there isn’t much to talk about there. Use your phone to scan the QR code to download the app, use the app to install the hardware, it will talk you through any human-help-required stages but basically do its own thing. As the saying goes “Start as you mean to continue” and D-Link hardware takes this credo to heart – it will tweak itself for optimal performance under normal conditions, but if you are pretty tech-savvy you can always go in and fine-tune the settings to ensure you squeeze every drop of efficiency out of it as you see fit. First-time or casual users can quite literally set(up) and forget.
It is also worth noting at this point that this unit is designed to sit on a flat horizontal surface but can also be easily wall-mounted with just two screws. In a rare expression of design intelligence, this unit can also be mounted on a wall, but upside down if necessary, meaning your wiring will hang down the wall from the backplate for easy access when you need to add/remove/swap a plug in one of the three gigabit ethernet ports. Much more appealing than demanding you run conduit to keep the cables discrete and under control as they rise up the wall from the backplate, as many wall-mountable devices seem to insist. Weighing in at a svelte 300g, assuming your wiring can support itself this unit won’t put a huge strain on your wall panelling either.
Being WiFi-6 enabled, the throughput is mighty indeed, with a rated maximum of 300Gbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1200Gbps on the 5GHz band. Utilising BSS Colouring to batch multiple packets into one for better efficiency means that you can have a lot more devices connected at the same time, and all will enjoy a strong, consistent data flow. 300Gbps for the 2.4GHz band may not sound like much, but devices that use that band are a bit of a dying breed, and those that do still use it are either low-dataflow or newer tech with optimised flow control to avoid wasting a single byte. Alone, with none of its companion signal boosters, this unit is rated to provide a solid signal to an area of 230m2. In real-world terms, that’s an average 2-3 bedroom home in most kiwi cities. Depending on the layout and how that floor space is configured, you may want to explore the options for boosters. Good news there too – the Eagle AI Pro range has a couple of options, all of which are super-easy to set up and add to the mesh network, which they are designed specifically for. You can see reviews of them here:
• D-Link EAGLE PRO AI AX1500 Mesh System – M15
• D-Link EAGLE PRO AI AX1500 4G Smart Router – G415
• There is also the D-Link EAGLE PRO AI AX1500 Mesh Range Extender – E15 that has not been reviewed but is also a core optional component of the system.
The specs claim 128 devices can be connected at any given moment, which is wildly over-spec for a home environment, however with more people working from home, the growth rate of IoT devices in an urban setting, and the influx of gaming and VR systems… it’s not hard to imagine that this limit may soon be reached. Just… not yet. You still have plenty of room for an average home’s level of automation and media demand. The AI-enhanced QoS (Quality of Service) engine ensures that high-priority data traffic gets the lion’s share of the speed, while low-demand devices get the still-not-all-that-slow lane. OFDMA technology also batches partial-packets together to avoid wasting overhead and bandwidth on a bunch of unnecessary zeros. Supporting the latest WPA3 encryption standard also means that your data is secure as it whistles through the voids between devices.
If you have a Google Assistant or Alexa smart speaker in your house, this unit can be synced with them too, giving you voice control over many common functions such as resetting the router, providing you with audio alerts about network updates and device security checks amongst others. Another smart integration is the TWT (Target Wake Time) system, which works out when your devices are actually communicating, and optimises traffic so that they aren’t being woken from sleep just to send a digital “#shrug Nothing to report, going back to sleep now”. Keeping traffic with mobile or non-mains-powered devices increases their battery life, saving you money.
The usual Parental Controls and a dedicated Guest Network are included too, of course. Guest network functions the same as a public WiFi spot really – access is granted to the greater internet space, but nothing within your local network – so a guest can check their emails without being able to cast to your TV or read files off your PC.
Overall, this unit is a bit of a godsend for the average home user who may not be up to speed with the current state of tech, but still need to use it. One of the best bonus extras, often overlooked, is the 24/7 technical support offered by D-Link. Having issues and the good ol’ “turn it off then back on again” solution isn’t fixing it? No worries, D-Link dial-a-brain is there to help you out. You may be asked to do the reset a couple of times if it’s a major glitch, but on the whole, a couple of test calls proved that the assistance is accurate, timely and – in my tests – always resolves the issue in short order. If you are still stuck with a clunky ISP-issued modem that handles your WiFi, it’s time to make the small investment in this rig. You can turn off slow-fi on your router, plug this baby into a spare port, and let it handle all your wireless communication needs without any significant intervention from you after the initial configuration – a process that took me just under 10 minutes (because I like to investigate ALL the options – but usually takes far less than that. Possibly the best home-network upgrade you will make this decade.
Posted in partnership with: KIWIreviews.nz
Disclosure Statement: This unit was supplied by D-Link expressly for the purposes of review. No fee was offered or accepted for this impartial review.
Combining the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology with AI, the Router offers incredible Wi-Fi coverage and speed that’s always optimizing and improving, for reliable, efficient, and fast Internet coverage. Experience Wi-Fi like never before.
• Dual-band AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 delivers blazing fast connectivity with increased range and reliability
• Up to 1200Mbps (5GHz) and 300Mbps (2.4GHz) speeds
• AI-based Mesh capability with compatible AI Wi-Fi Extender or Mesh Systems
• AI-based Wi-Fi and Traffic Optimiser monitors and improves your network automatically
• Supports WPA, WPA2, and the latest WPA3 Wi-Fi Security
• Clean Network Initiative compliant for security and privacy
• Voice control compatibility with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
You can read the original press release [-here-]