WiFi is everywhere these days. Wherever you are you’re being bombarded with WiFi signals. However ironically one of the big issues most people have is coverage in their own homes. It appears because of the size and construction of houses, there are often areas where the WiFi from a single WiFi router won’t reach. Deadspots! How do you solve this issue if you don’t have cable infrastucture? You add additional WiFi repeater points. This however often created management issues having multiple units to manage (often of different brands) and support separately. The “latest” solution to WiFi issues is Mesh Networking a WiFi solution to improve your coverage and simplify management. Having played with a lot of the Gl.iNet travel products, the guys reached out to me to ask if I wanted to review their B1300 – Convexa home-based Mesh Router system. Does it make things easier? Read on:
What is it?
As mentioned in the introduction previously to increase the coverage of your WiFi where you didn’t have cabling (wired performance is ALWAYS better so use where possible), you’d use a set of repeaters. I’m not going to go into all the technical background of repeaters and/or mesh systems however suffice to say if you used repeaters you’d have multiple separate boxes to manage, different brands often didn’t play well together and you couldn’t actually often see all the information you required (like what clients are attached) in a single place. Mesh networking has the concept of a “master” node and then “slave” nodes. In the mesh, all the nodes talk to each other, appear as a single WiFi network and “seamlessly” hand over to devices as they move closer to each node, two things that repeaters didn’t do well.
You can just use the B1300 as a single WiFi router, but it’s when you have 2 or more nodes that the mesh advantages start to kick in. Being based on OpenWRT, unlike many of the other vendors products, you aren’t locked into a vendors firmware and you can do everything you could with a normal OpenWRT router, add packages for load balancing, adblocking, torrents, VPN server and clients and anything else you can download from the OpenWRT repositories, even write your own firmware if you really wanted.
What’s in the box?
Inside the box, you get everything you need to get started. The B1300 unit, a 12V/1.5A AC adapter with country-specific plug ( you can actually order with a Power Over Ethernet (POE) module if your switch supports it and eliminate the need for the PSU), a network cable and a quick start guide.