It seems everyone is getting into the Whole Home WiFi System game. Most major router suppliers have launched a mesh based home system so it is no surprise that Amped used it’s experience with high power, long range routers to jump into the game.
Amped’s entry is called the Ally plus which consists of two similar looking units, a router and an extender. Unlike other mesh based systems Ally Plus consists of only two units and does not use a separate radio channel for the backhaul. It seems to depend on raw power from the router to overcome the bandwidth loss inherent with transmitting and receiving between the router and extender on the same channel used to communicate with the client.
Setup of the Ally Plus system like most new Whole Home Systems is pretty simple starting with the downloading of a smartphone app available for iOS and Android Phones. The app walks you through the setup starting with the router which is the box with the three LAN ports, a WAN port with ethernet cable already plugged in, a USB 3 port and a power port with a dedicated 2.5a power supply. It took about 5 minutes to set up the router.
The extender was even simpler since it is already pre-paired with the router. It has only one ethernet LAN port which can be used to connect to a client device but not the router if a ethernet connection happens to be available at the chosen location. All that is required is to plug in the dedicated 2a power supply and wait a few minutes for the two devices to sync up.
While the setup is simple the Ally app does provide more control over the router than most of the other Whole Home Systems but you have to be logged in to the Ally server to use the advanced settings and some are available only from the smartphone app and are blocked on the Web app available for your PC.
The router showed the impressive power and range I expected from an Amped device. However, performance with the extender connected was not as impressive as I hoped when it came to reaching my really difficult spot on the front porch. The extender is located in the family room which the setup app indicated as a Good (yellow LED instead of green) as opposed to excellent location. Other locations closer to the router gave a Green LED but intervening walls reduced performance in the desired areas so the selected location in the family room proved to be the best compromise. A dedicated backhaul channel would have greatly improved performance here.
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Performance in other rooms was also spotty and did not consistently deliver the full bandwidth of my 120Mbps Internet connection everywhere in the house. It seemed more power was directed out the front and back of the router and extender and less to the side which affected some rooms more than others. To be fair, the vast majority of users have considerably less bandwidth from their ISP and would be perfectly satisfied with the ALLY Plus. Stability was also a shade less than I hoped for. My system had to be rebooted at least once a week because it lost connection with my modem. A firmware update delivered Apr. 8 is supposed to address stability issues. As I write this on April 11 there have been no stability issues since the update.
Amped promises up to 15,000 sq. ft. of WiFi coverage but, based on my experience that would be a stretch especially with only a router and extender unless you were prepared to tolerate dial up speeds at the maximum distance. I feel the Ally Plus would deliver satisfactory performance throughout a medium size home and at $350CAD is probably the most cost effective solutions on the market right now. Performance is considerably more impressive than any other Router/extender combination I have tried.