Buffalo AirStation Wireless AC866 USB Adapter (WI-U2-866D) Review
Today we look at a Wireless AC capable USB adapter from Buffalo, Wireless AC is slowly coming into the marketplace with the standard due for final approval in early 2014. If you’ve got that fancy new AC router you’re going to need a new AC adapter for your devices to ensure you get the top speeds. Note, while most routers can now operate up to AC1600 or more, USB adapters currently sit at 866/867Mbps.
The AC866 is packaged in a nice looking box, featuring a clear picture on the front with some vital statistics, around the back we have an introduction to Wireless AC and on the sides we have the system requirements and product specifications. Inside the box we have a quick start guide (full manual available via download link), warranty statement, declaration of conformity and driver CD. Also included is a mouldable USB extender cable, this is a very nice looking cable braided with a clear plastic sleeve and allows us to plug the device into more arkward USB connectors where space may be limited. The form holding design of the cable is an added bonus if we want to try to elevate the adapter for optimal signal strength.
The casing is made of strong plastic, with several different textures used, the main portion of the front is a smooth plastic, with the rear being a more soft touch texture and the gun metal bumper around the edge having a metallic appearance. The dimensions are (93 x 31 x 15 mm) and it weighs 34g. Connectivity is via the USB 2.0 connector.
Built into the end of the device behind the bumper is a white LED which flashes with activity. The USB connector is on a swivel, so it can be angled to suit. On the front of the device is a removeable cover that slides off, behind it is simply a sticker showing serial and MAC address details.
The device itself supports Wireless AC up to speeds of 866Mbps (AC866) as well as Wireless N at speeds up to 300Mbps or N300. All the usual encryption protocols are covered as well as WPS/AOSS secure connection facilities.
Setting up the adapter couldn’t be easier as the device fully supports Windows 8. Upon plugging the adapter in to our Windows 8 PC installation of the driver begins immediately. Once the driver installation has completed the device is ready to use, we can however opt to install Buffalo’s own management software for the wireless networks. On our Windows 7 laptop the device wasn’t immedately recognised so we used the included driver CD and chose to install both the driver and wifi manager.
Below we can see the Wireless Manager (AirNavigator) bundled with the USB adapter. Normally it’s the case that we wouldn’t bother with a 3rd party manager, but in Buffalo’s case the software is sufficiently detailed that it does provide helpful information. In the screenshot below we can see signal strength and current connection rate, so here with 100% signal the data connection is established at 433Mbps. To take it to the next step we even have a signal monitor that shows you the various channels available and what kind of signal strength is being received to really allow you to fine tune your positioning, a great piece of kit.
The Buffalo Wireless AC866 adapter performs very well, has a straightforward install and our sample was of good build quality. The added mouldable adapter to extend the USB connector is also a nice touch, as is the software suite. Performance far exceeds any Wireless-N adapters out there and is a must for anyone with a Wireless AC enabled router. At around £34 the adapter offers great value costing less than a lot of high end Wireless-N offerings and one of the cheapest if not the cheapest USB AC adapter available.
|Where to buy…|
|Ebuyer.com – £34.49|