Published on December 1st, 2016 | by Greg0
Portal: A New Way To Speed Up Your Wifi
Earlier this year, a new company put up a crowdfunding appeal, and managed to raise almost $800K to make their vision come true. About a month ago, they dropped by with a router that was near-final, and we’ve been testing it in residential and even commercial venues since then (thanks to The Uncommons, a Greenwich Village board game cafe). And while most routers haven’t boasted about any huge technological leaps in the last year or so, this company features one that is perfect for crowded environments.
The latest router to offer promised improvements for your wireless networking is Portal- a cute, compact, cloud-white wifi machine that claims to be “built for today’s crowded and demanding urban environments”. As their Kickstarter project mentioned, the real advance here is the inclusion of DFS certification, and what they call FastLanes, which unlocks a new and previously-restricted portion of spectrum. If you’re in a rural or suburban environment, then you’re likely fairly satisfied with your 802.11 performance- it’s not very crowded, and you’re probably able to get a channel with little interference. Setup is pretty easy, too.
But in a more populated area- like, say, New York City- the airwaves are full to bursting, especially with smart home technologies adding to the number of devices occupying our networks. And Portal, despite it’s internal-only antennas and low-key looks, is one of the first commercially available consumer-oriented routers that can utilize Dynamic Frequency Selection. Basically, Portal can run on otherwise-under-used and unlicensed 5 GHz bands, and is able to detect any military or weather radar systems and automatically switch over to another frequency in case of disturbance. That allows most regular devices like laptops to connect over further distances, with higher speeds. Don’t be fooled by the hidden antennas either- there are nine total!
Technically an AC2400 model, Portal can operate on two simultaneous bands (2.4GHz and 5Ghz), rather than three concurrently as some top-of-the-line competitors offer. But we’ve heard some of the roadmap and upcoming additional functionality- like mesh networking for larger installations- and there is plenty to appreciate. At the moment, it’s lacking in some advanced options enthusiasts might want, like MAC address filtering. One suggestion though: if you see eight or more wireless networks when you’re searching or connecting, you could just find a solution to your wireless woes in Portal. Expect to spend around $169.99 online and in stores, available now, and reasonably priced for an interesting alternative.