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Amped Wireless Ally Plus Whole Home Smart Wi-Fi System review: Effective Wi-Fi coverage, easy to use and plenty of features

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Amped Wireless Ally Plus Whole Home Smart Wi-Fi System

(Part #: ALLY-0091K)
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The Good The Ally Plus broadcasts fast Wi-Fi coverage over a large area. It includes both a well-designed mobile app and an in-depth web interface, plus more features than other competing home mesh systems.

The Bad The system doesn't have a dedicated backhaul band and you can't connect the extender unit to the router unit via a network cable to improve performance.

The Bottom Line The Ally Plus is a great Wi-Fi system for any large home but it suits families with both novice and advanced users especially well.

8.3 Overall
  • Setup 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 8.0

Unlike most mesh Wi-Fi systems geared toward home users, the Amped Wireless Ally Plus has something for everyone. Novice users will love its easy-to-use mobile app and advanced users will still be able to customize their network via a comprehensive web interface, which is unavailable in existing popular systems like the Eero, Google Wifi ($116.98 at Amazon.com) or Luma. And likely everyone will be happy with its performance and Wi-Fi coverage.

If you live in a home of 4,000 square feet or so and want to broadcast Wi-Fi coverage across every inch of it, the $300 Ally Plus is a great choice. The only exception might be is if your home is already outfitted with Ethernet ports. In that case, Google Wifi will provide better performance, since the Ally Plus doesn't allow for connecting the units together using a network cable.

allyplus-4.jpg

The Ally Plus includes a router (left) and a range extender programed to work with each other out of the box.

Dong Ngo/CNET

Snappy setup process

The Ally Plus includes two identical-looking hardware units. One of them is a router, called Ally, that you can get just by itself for $180. The other is a wireless range extender that's only available when you get the $300 Ally Plus set.

To set up the system, you start with the router unit and either the web interface or the Ally mobile app (available on Android or iOS), both of which will guide though through the process step by step. After that just plug the extender unit into power at a place some 40 feet away from the router -- an indicator light on the extender will remain green letting you know that the connection strength is at 70 percent or better signal strength -- and you're done.

You never have to do anything else about the extender since it's pre-programed to work specifically with the router it accompanies. Other systems like the Luma or Google Wifi require you to use the mobile app to manually add hardware units to the network one by one. The Ally Plus takes care of this on its own, effectively making the setup process much shorter.

In testing, I was able to get the system up and running in under 10 minutes.

No dedicated backhaul

With just two units, instead of three, the Ally Plus is similar to the Negear Orbi. However, unlike the Orbi, it doesn't have a dedicated third band for backhaul -- the job of wirelessly connecting the hardware units together. This means Wi-Fi devices connected to the second extender unit will have, at best, just half the speed compared to those connected to the router. This is because of the 50 percent signal loss when a wireless band needs to both receive and rebroadcast a Wi-Fi signal at the same time.

To make the matter worse, the Ally Plus doesn't allow for connecting its unit together using a network cable, which eliminates signal loss and would make the system work well in a home that already has ethernet ports in the walls. Amped Wireless told me that it might enable this via a firmware update.

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