The Buffalo AirStation Extreme AC1900 represents another Buffalo product that features the 802.11ac wireless standard. A test run is the best way to see if the router performs as well as the specifications promise.
The setup is as simple as advertized, but taking some time to review the pages ahead is a good idea. Preparing for the next steps can help to prevent confusion, particularly when identifying the ports that will be used. The diagrams in the user guide make it easy to locate the components and determine which connections will go into which designated ports. Connecting via Ethernet is the fastest and most foolproof way to get to the initial login and the setup wizard. After setting up the passwords and SSID information for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz network bands, users can further customize and configure the router.
With each of the major configuration categories represented on the screen, the settings page is sufficiently intuitive. Be sure to locate the correct IP address for finding the administrative page. The user guide lists it in the setup section. Changing the admin login credentials to the router is strongly recommended. The initial admin name and password are generic, and they should not be kept.
The USB storage configuration is included in the major categories. The options are easy to understand, and a new storage device is connected and ready to use quickly. One of the most convenient features is the option to allow BitTorrent access on the USB storage device. Users can also enable DLNA on the device, creating a streaming media server from the router. Users must be comfortable with the media players on their devices, though, to take advantage of this option.
The QoS configuration is a little less intuitive, but the setup effort proves to be worth it. Once configured, the type of service prioritized sees improved performance. Setting the priority to video, for example, limits bandwidth usage of other tasks so that video streaming quality is prioritized. Using the custom option on the QoS page allows for more flexibility in setting a variety of priorities, but it does take a little practice to get the settings exactly as desired.
Users who are uncomfortable with finding and using local ports on their devices will have a tough time with manual QoS rules. The IP addresses of the applications and the local computers on the network must also be configured when adding manual rules for QoS. Most users will likely settle for only adjusting the basic or custom QoS settings.
Having dual frequencies makes the router flexible. The router is capable of offering both frequencies simultaneously, giving device users the option that suits them best. The 1900 Mbps speed is the total from both bands. Users on the 5 GHz frequency enjoy speeds up to 1300 Mbps, but those on the 2.4 GHz frequency see speeds up to 600 Mbps. Video on the 5 GHz band is particularly sharp and clear, but the streaming media performance on the 2.4 GHz band is also very good. With a fast broadband connection, the router easily handles streaming video to two devices simultaneously.
To take full advantage of the 5.0 GHz band, though, proximity is important. Distance weakens the signal, as will too many walls and shelves between a device and the router. The devices on the network must also have the capability of using the newer technology. Not all devices will be able to connect to the 5 GHz band and make use of the full speed. Those devices will still benefit from impressive speeds and the longer range of the 2.4 GHz band.
Most of the steps needed to get the most of the router are easy to find and apply, giving this AirStation respectable marks for user friendliness. The router also delivers on performance, both frequencies smoothly delivering content to a number of devices at once. The pricing is also competitive for routers in its class, making it a good value for the money.