CNET First Look
The Portal is not yet a gateway to great home Wi-FiCNET editor Dong Ngo explains the good, the bad and the downright crazy of the new Portal Home Wi-Fi system.
Hi guys, this is the portal router. Well, not exactly, it's more like a Wi-Fi system, because you can get the second unit, identical, and extend the Wi-Fi network of this one, to this. Now, this one is a very powerful system supporting the Ac2400 Wi-Fi standard. And there are 3 things about it The good, the interesting, and the crazy. First, the good. Now, the system is fast. It has a sustained WiFi speed of some 540 Mbps per second. That's really fast. It has good range too. A single unit can cover some 2,800 square feet and the two combined, up to 5,000 or 6,000 square feet. That's great. Also you don't need to have an account to use it and the system will not connect to the vender to work with the case of the Google WiFi or the Arro. Okay, the interesting part, now the special thing about portal is that it supports dynamic frequency selection or DFS or FastLanes as called by the maker. Basically the system can use some channels that used to be reserved exclusively for radar systems, so it's very similar to having the privilege to drive on a shuttle lane on a free way which is helpful in heavy traffic, but in light traffic, doesn't make any difference. There's one problem though, fastlane is not comparable with all existing 5 GHz devices And these devices can now only connect to the portal using a 2.4 frequency, which is slow. So, FastLane might or might not improve anything, but for sure it's gonna make Wi-Fi extremely slow for those unsupported devices. Now the good news is you can turn FastLane off, which brings us to the crazy part. The mobile app. Now the app makes setting up the system very easy and it works pretty well but it's buggy. I use it on the pixel right here and it I see this all the time. Yeah, it keeps spinning like that but that's okay. The crazy part is when I want to use it on my iPhone I would have to reset the whole system back to factory default And then reset up 8 with my iPhone and then the apps will work on my iPhone but no longer on the pixel. That's right. Only one mobile device at a time. But the whole system is very much a work in progress and many things can be changed, added, improved, etc., regularly. So the question is, do you want to be part of that experiment? If you do, one unit can be had for some $180, and a set of two, $319. [UNKNOWN] because the whole thing about driving fast on the shorter lanes made me feel on edge. I like it, and that's because I'm [UNKNOWN] and this is the Portal wi-fi system. [MUSIC]