High-speed networking is all the rage these days. Fast internet is getting cheaper as are fast routers and network adapters. The latest WiFi standard is 802.11ac which succeeds b, g and most recently n. 802.11ac operated on the 5GHz band (instead of the 2.4GHz band of b/g/n) and offers vastly improved transfer speeds. Now using 802.11ac requires you to have an 802.11ac compatible adapter as well as a compatible router. Such devices are labeled "dual-band" because they support both 802.11 b/g/n/ and 802.11ac. Tenda was kind enough to send us their latest ac router - the AC15 - to check out for you guys so let's get to it!
"Founded in 1999, Tenda technology is the recognized leading supplier of networking devices and equipments. Tenda has committed to delivering easy-to-install and affordable networking solutions, offering innovative, cutting-edge products to realize people’s intelligent life.
Innovation is the soul of Tenda technology. Tenda has two R&D centers, Shenzhen and Chengdu, with about 1000 employees; one Manufacture center, with about 3000 members and a new 120000 m2 manufacture base under construction.
Tenda products include home networking, business networking, switch, broadband CPE, gateway, powerlines, mobile broadband, IP camera etc. Excellent performance, steady signal, easy use and installation, top quality with competitive price are the common features of all Tenda products.
Tenda attracts a lot of excellent talents by its cooperate culture. Nearly 120 graduates from key universities join in Tenda each year. They contribute a lot to Tenda development.
Excellent company must have excellent strategic partner. Tenda has established strategic partnership with Broadcom in 2012 and became the most important partner of Broadcom in China. Tenda adopts Broadcom chip which is similar as Apple devices to bring terrific performance to all Tenda products.
Based in Shenzhen, China, Tenda has expanded its business into the World market. Tenda established more than 10 branches and 50 offices in China. Since 2007, Tenda has started launching its global branding strategy. Through worldwide distribution channels, Tenda distributes products to more than 100 countries around the world. Up to the third quarter of 2014,total sales amount of Tenda is over 500 million. At the same time, Tenda has a customer service team of up to more than 160 employees to solve problems for distributors and end customers in the world.
As the first home-grown router and wireless network device manufacturer in China, Tenda has overcome all kinds of difficulties. Combined R&D, manufacturing & sales together, Tenda adopts the latest technology and professional service system to establish reliable network to be professional high-tech company in the world.
Mission & Vision: Speed, secure and intelligentize network life anywhere anytime.
WIN ● Make Customers Win
Execution ● Effort & Push
Teamwork ● Honesty & Achievement
Service:Best, Brilliant & Professional
Spirit:Motivation, Innovation & Faith."
For more info on the 802.11ac standard check out its Wiki here (link is external).
Let's take a look at the features and specifications for the Tenda AC15 now.
What It Does
AC15 is an AC1900 Smart Dual-band Gigabit WiFi Router especially designed for your smart home networking life. The transmission rate reaches 1900Mbps for super speed, plus the Beamforming+, built-in high powered amplifiers and external antennas, you can enjoy lag-free gaming and uninterrupted video streaming anytime anywhere. Additionally, the considerate Smart WiFi Schedule can turn on/off WiFi automatically to create low-power consumption and smart E-life for your whole families.
Ultimate 11ac speed of up to 1900Mbps, delivering both 1300Mbps 802.11ac at 5GHz and 600Mbps 802.11n at 2.4 GHz concurrently.
Broadcom dual-core processor with DDR3 memory for multi-client with responsive performance and fast speed.
Beamforming+ technology boosts range for the 802.11ac WiFi devices.
High powered amplifiers and three external antennas for whole-home coverage.
USB3.0 for personal secure cloud and printer sharing.
Smart managements of WiFi schedule, LED indicator and power saving all are for your healthy E-life.
Lag-free Gaming & Uninterrupted HD Video Streaming
AC15 is built to handle all your high-bandwidth online activities. The router has a total speed of up to 1900Mbps. It delivers both 1300Mbps 802.11ac at 5GHz and 600Mbps 802.11n at 2.4 GHz concurrently. Plus the Broadcom dual-core processor, you can enjoy lag-free bandwidth demanding entertainments fully, such as the HD video streaming and online gaming.
Beamforming+ Enhances the WiFi Range and Stability
Beamforming+ technology locks onto your WiFi devices rather than simply blast WiFi in all directions. It also reduces interference from other devices for stronger WiFi connections, so wherever you go at your home with phones, tablets or laptops, the WiFi signal focuses on your location for optimum experience. Additionally, the high powered amplifiers and high-performance external antennas double ensure your WiFi range and stability.
USB3.0 for Personal Secure Cloud and Printer Sharing
With a USB 3.0 port, AC15 can support remote access by building personal and secure cloud with external hard driveto upload and download large multimedia and file anytime anywhere.
The high speed USB 3.0 features data transfer up to ten times faster than USB 2.0, so it is perfect to the file and multimedia sharing and the built-in printer server makes it ea sy to print wirelessly.
Smart Management for your Healthy E-life
Forget to turn off when being asleep? Feel bothered to turn on from time to time? The considerate Smart Management saves you from the hassle. Set your ideal time range, AC15 will turn on/off WiFi and LED indicator automatically to create low-power consuption and healthy e-life for baby, mother and your whole families.
Use your smartphone, tablet, or PC to effortlessly set up your Tenda AC15 router with easy setup wizard or Tenda Apps.
Tenda Cloud, VPN, FTP, IPTV, DDNS, DNLA and Printer.
Now that we're through with that, let's take a look at the packaging for the Tenda AC15.
The Tenda AC15 comes packaged in a full-color cardboard box. The front shows an image of the router and lists some of the key features.
The back of the box lists some more features both in text and in icons along the bottom edge of the box.
Inside the outer color sleeve resides a plain white cardboard box. Inside the box you'll find the router, stand, AC adapter, ethernet cable, quick start guide and support info.
Here we have the contents laid out. Tenda includes a protective plastic film over the router's shiny wavy front surface to protect it from damage in transit.
Let's take a closer look at the Tenda AC15 now.
Here we ahve the router released from its box and protective film. The Tenda AC15 has an interesting aesthetic to it with its shiny wavy finish and three antennas.
The back side of the AC15 lists the router's network/password information. At the bottom, from left to right, we have the power button, power input jack, USB 3.0 port and four ethernet ports.
The detachable stand has rubber pads on the bottom to keep the unit secure and keep it form damaging whatever surface you place it on. You can also see the vents to allow natural convection cooling of the unit.
On the top of the AC15 you hav emore cooling vents as well as a button for WPS setup and a button to turn the WiFi on and off. There is also a small recessed reset button on the top panel as well.
On the top of the front panel are printed icons for the various features of the router. From left to right we have power, ports 3-1, internet port, 2.4GHz WiFi, 5GHz WiFi, WPS, USB and system. Each icon has a blue LED behind it that either lights up solid or blinks depending on the status of that particular item.
Let's take a look at the AC15 initial setup and configuration screens now.
Initial setup is accessed by connecting to your router (via ethernet cable or WiFi) and goign to www.tendawifi.com (link is external).
When you first access the router you're greeted with the above screen.
The router apprently checks to see if you're on dial-up for its initial setup.
First you need to set your wireless settings. Regioun, SSID and password.
And that's it! It lists the default names of both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. These can be changed later on in the settings.
Now any time you want to get in and configure your settings just head back on over to www.tendawifi.com (link is external) and you'll be greeted with this login screen.
The first screen you're greeted with is the "Internet Status" screen. HEre you can see the number of attached devices (and see what those devices are) as well as see and set blacklisted devices and view network SSID's.
Next one down is the "Internet Settings" menu. Here you can set the connection type, view the connection status and disconnect.
Next is the "Wireless Settings" screen. Here you can view/change the network SSID's and passwords, schedule a time to disable WiFi, set up the router for wireless repeating, select specific channel and bandwidth settings for each band, set your signal conditioning preference and enable/disable WPS.
The next option is the "Guest Network." Here you can enable/disable a guest network and configure the SSID and password for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
On the next screen you can set up the Smart Power settings. You can set a specific time when the router will turn off the WiFi radios and go into a low power state to conserve electricity.
Next up is the "USB Application" menu. Here you can configure the onboard USB 3.0 port to be a file share (for connecting to a NAS or other storage medium), set up DLNA (for more info on what DLNA is, check out their site here (link is external)) or set up a printer service where you have a printer connected to the router's USB port.
Next we have the "VPN" screen. Here you can configure a PPTP server or client on your AC15 router.
Next is the "Advanced Settings" menu. Here you can configure parental controls, bandwidth controls, turn the front LED's on or off, setup the Tenda cloud (if you so desire) as well as a host of other smart networking settings.
Finally we have the "System Settings" menu. Here You can configure all of the normal settings for your router from setting the time to viewing logs, rebooting and firmware upgrades.
Let's wrap up this review with some testing and final thoughts.
I tested the router with both wireless PC's as well as smart phones and connected to both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Most smartphones have built-in capabilities for 5GHz networks but I actually went a purchased a new dual-band USB adapter as my current one is only 802.11n.
Connecting to the 5GHz network gets you the fastest speeds possible but range is somewhat more limited on the 5GHz when compared to the 2.4GHz band. I found that changing the channels for each band from "auto" and going through them yielded the best connections for my devices. My house is a very poor layout for WiFi as it's a ~200 year old Colonial style here in Central MA, complete with a stone walled basement and asbestos shingles on the exterior that severely limit WiFi transmission. I found that even with these hindrances I still consistently got better connection and transfer speeds with the Tenda AC15 than with my older Buffalo router, even with the 5GHz band. online media streaming, gaming and P2P streaming was lag-free and flawless.
So far I'm in love with the Tenda AC15 router (link is external). It's got a TON of options and they're all super simple to access via the web interface. From blacklisting devices to setting parental controls and bandwidth limitations that are device-specific (read: kids WiFi getting cut off at bed time but still being able to use Netflix on our smart TV) it's a clear winner.
The Tenda AC15 router has an MSRP of $129.99 but I was able to find the lowest price of just $79.99 over at Tiger Direct (link is external) at the time of this writing.
If you're looking for a top of the line AC router that's got enough options to perfectly suit every user then look no farther than the Tenda AC15 AC1900 Smart Dual Band Gigabit WiFi Router (link is external).