While cleaning my office I figured it was time to plug this guy back in and do a check of the new firmware. As soon as it was online, I logged in and was greeted with a firmware update message. I like it when this happens.
After just a few short minutes of verifying and then upgrading I was able to see what was new. I have to say the firmware has come a long way. I am not surprised, as I reviewed this product early in its life. I was expecting things to get better and better and they did.
We now have PPPoE on the wan, a more unified dashboard, VLANs, UNMS, and VLANs. For those of you with UBNT networks, this fits as a managed router nicely now.
One of the best features about the new aircube is the interface. On Facebook and other places the aircube has been criticized for it’s lack of features. I believe this is where the simple interface really makes the unit shine. One thing many people don’t realize is your typical home router really doesn’t have a true firewall. Most routers have features that are firewall like. Most “firewalls” are security by obscurity. The ability to close off ports is a by-product of a nat router.
Setup was very easy. I downloaded the ap, scanned the QR code, and then went into the phones wifi and connected to the AirCube wifi. Once I plugged it into my home router I was online.
One of the first things I always do when testing a new device is upgrade the firmware, unless I have a specific firmware version for whatever reason. Upgrading the firmware on the unit was very easy. I like the fact you can see the changelog notes with a single click.
Once upgraded the simplicity of the setup really shines through. By default, the AirCube is in an access point mode. This is probably the default mode which will be the most beneficial for the ISPs out there. I will explain why in a little bit.
The interface speaks for itself, I could go through screen by screen and spoon feed you the very simple setup screens, but you would get bored very quickly. It is truly a very minimalist product and interface.
One of the coolest features I like about this product is the scan feature. For some reason the way it is presented on screen resonates with me. It makes seeing the frequencies in use handy. While not a chart or graph, it still accomplishes the same function.
I know this little product has received some ripping from operators on various groups and forums. However, I think it fills a very basic need. That need is an easy to configure device which allows devices to access the Internet. Nat firewalls can be done by the provider, and the user never has to touch them. This is a trend many operators are headed toward anyway. Let the provider manage the endpoint for the customer. The customer ends up calling the ISP to do port forwarding or if they have a virus anyway. If the customer wants to add things in the house, it should be simple, and not add extra layers of NAT and firewall rules. This is a perfect fit for the Cube. So don’t dismiss it because it doesn’t have all the fancy features some router have. Save that for other product lines that you, as the ISP, can manage.
I have been meaning to start this review for several weeks. Due to the holidays and sickness that has not happened until now. Recently Ubiquiti Networks released the airCubeAC. I won’t bore you with all the stats, just some of the highlights. For the complete list go here…
-AC radio containing 5ghz and 2.4 Radios (AC Model)
-4 Gigabit ethernet ports
-Supports POE in and Out
One of the first things you notice about the modern UBNT products like this is the nice retail looking package. This could be on the shelf of Best Buy, or on the shelf of any computer shop. The packaging is modern and eye-catching.
After unboxing we find a very minimal packaging.
All that is contained in the packaging is the airCube itself, quick start guide, and the power cord. One of the first things I noticed as I went to plug this in was the length of the power cord. Too many companies give you a short power cord you are always fighting against. This cord has to be 7-8 feet long. In addition, the power plug is a compact size to fit into most surge protectors with ease. It’s the little design features like this which can really make a product shine.
While waiting for it to boot a quick tour around the outside reveals the four gigabit ethernet ports, one of them being the WAN port.
The quickstart guide was very helpful, except for the terminology used for the UMOBILE app. On the IOS store, I finally figured out the UNMS app was the correct one to use. This might be confusing for some folks. Maybe newer documentation reflects the change in the naming.
I connected the Cube to my home network and fired up the app, the wizard was very helpful in getting me connected to the Cube.
The use of the QR code to customize the instructions is a very nice time saver. I was up and connected within 40 seconds. Most of that time was switching over to my settings to connect to the wifi and switching back to the app. A nice feature would be launching the settings app for you. Not sure if such system calls are allowed on iOS but something to consider. On a side note, there is Puerto Rico listed as a country yet again. Not sure why this is a recurring theme with UBNT.
Anytime I get a new device like this one of the first things I do is upgrade the firmware to the latest. This was a very easy process. The app even had a little orange information thing directing me to go check it. The addition of the changelog within the app is a very nice touch. The total firmware upgrade took about 2 minutes.
I made the mistake of switching out of the app before the upgrade was done. The unit was not reporting the firmware was upgraded, and when I tried to upgrade again it gave me an error. Hitting logout on the app and logging back in refreshed the app and confirmed I was indeed at the latest firmware.
It’s getting late, but I wanted to get this out there and get the ball rolling. Look for part 2 coming shortly when I go over the interface in detail. For now, I will leave you with my first impression summary.
The airCube has many nice physical features. The long power cable makes the flexibility of installation easy. No longer do you have to set it in an awkward place just because the power cable did not reach. It does POE in and out, so you could power the unit with a wireless CPE POE if you were a WISP running UBNT gear. This would save on a power plug because you would only need one for your outdoor radio and the airCube. However, if you are deploying these with non-UBNT gear, or simply in a home with fiber or cable the small power plug makes for a neat and compact installation.
Setup was easy, minus the documentation issue on the app to get. This is probably simply the app being updated for whatever reason and the documentation that came with my Cube being behind.