To be frank I’ve never been a fan of the free bundled wireless routers you get when you sign on to a new broadband plan. The reason is that they usually aren’t cutting edge routers that you can use for years – for example, if you’re still using one of these routers from about four years ago, you can forget about trying to stream a 4K episode of Altered Carbon to your shiny new Smart TV while your son is busy battling for Azeroth on his PC. So let’s just say we were a little skeptical when Linksys sent us the EA8100 Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO Gigabit WiFi Router to review, because it’s a free exclusive to new or recontract Starhub 1Gbps Fibre Broadband and HomeHub Plus plans.
So it looks like your standard black Linksys WiFi router and it is just as easy to set up using the Linksys App, which I already have for my Linksys Velop (you can use bridge mode so that the Velop and EA8100 share the same SSID). The one new feature of the EA8100 is that it’s certified to access Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) channels. To simply explain – all WiFi routers these days, like the EA8100, are dual-band that run on the 2.5 Ghz and 5 Ghz frequencies.
Now this is roughly 58 channels in total, which seems like a lot – except most Singaporeans tend to live in high-rise apartment blocks where everyone runs WiFi routers. Your router will automatically sense and select the ‘cleanest’ channels, but in a congested WiFi environment your neighbour’s routers can cause signal interference if the broadcast channels overlap. DFS enables the EA8100 to use 16 channels outside the usual WiFi spectrum, as these channels are usually used by radar, civil communication and the military.
The EA8100 can use these DFS frequencies as it has an automatic detection system to switch back to the regular channels when it senses something else, like say a weather radar, transmitting on the same frequency.
The odds of the EA8100 switching out of DFS should be pretty low as most of us don’t live near a strong radar source, and using the DFS channels seems to slightly increase download speeds, which is pretty neat as DFS isn’t a feature found on consumer routers.
S$329 (free exclusive to new or recontract Starhub 1Gbps Fibre Broadband and HomeHub Plus plans)
Compared to similar affordable ‘bundled’ WiFi routers the DFS feature on the EA8100 is an interesting and useful addition for users if you find yourself picking up more than 10 WiFi networks.