To many Freeway Pro held on long past its “Use by” date. It was the worn out but comfortable pair of shoes you can’t throw out but know you should. It was both loved and infuriating, a relic from a simpler time.
Today’s Pop-up: Portal Router
In the world of consumer routers the Ignition Design Labs Portal is somewhat unusual. In addition to the 2.4 and 5 Ghz WiFi bands it employs Dynamic Frequency Selection or DFS which allows on-the-fly access to a range of 5 Ghz channels from 52 to 144 (in North America) typically reserved for airplane radar. Due to the necessarily strict rules and regulations governing their use in routers most manufacturers avoid the technical hurdles in favor of the easier-to-implement (and congested) mainstream channels. But with DFS it’s (almost) like having your own private WiFi channels.
With 1 WAN, 4 LAN, 2 USB2 and no less than 9 (yes, nine) antennas, one Portal can cover ~3k sq.ft. or it can be configured as a mesh network using a maximum of two Portals for ~6k sq.ft. The Portal site states there is “wireless and wired backhaul available” for communication between Portals so network speed isn’t adversely impacted. Finally, for you router geeks its firmware is based on OpenWRT.
I use a Portal mesh with wired backhaul and in my congested urban neighborhood of ~40 networks I have the DFS channels all to myself. Well, until my neighbors get wise. The mobile app is very basic but setup is quick and easy, though I found the mesh configuration a bit finicky due to a bug. Overall the Portal has been fast, stable and is easily the best performing router I’ve used so far. Plus it has an elegantly simple and clean aesthetic.