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Hands On: Luxul Wireless Network System

To consistently achieve network speeds of 30Mbps is something I will no longer take for granted.


Luxul's XAP-1020 802.11n Wireless Access Point
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Full disclosure: I don’t like home networking and at times I find it almost intimidating.

Today home networking is much more than a means to get online, and it’s becoming one of the most important technology systems in the home. With the growing array of networked entertainment devices, it’s necessary to have a backbone that is robust enough to support traditional online activities, as well as the mammoth amounts of bandwidth required to stream A/V and share files.

My home is a good reflection of what’s happening in the market. We’ve purchased multiple Apple TVs, iOS devices and Apple computers that all need network connectivity. I thought it would be interesting to see if a network made up of commercial-grade products would make a noticeable difference over the usual retail products consumers buy from big-box stores.

Luxul, a Utah-based networking product manufacturer, is relatively new to the residential market, but its goal is to bring its expertise in the commercial sector to installers in need of enterprise-grade solutions.

Features
Luxul sent me its XGS-1024 24-Port Gigabit Switch, XGS-1008 8-port Gigabit Switch, XMS-1008P 8-Port POE Gigabit Switch, XBR-2300 Enterprise Dual-WAN Router and a XAP-1020 802.11n wireless access point (WAP).

Highlighting the switches, the XGS-1024 can be used to manage as many as 24 devices at gigabit and Ethernet speeds, while the XGS-1008 is a desktop-friendly eight-port switch that offers gigabit speeds and a sleek design. The XMS-1008 POE Gigabit Switch incorporates the same capabilities as the other switches and it adds the ability to power POE -compatible devices such as security cameras with a maximum output of 15.4 watts per port.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Networking

The XBR-2300 is a business-class router that allows as many as 256 concurrent routing entries, and it incorporates the company’s XenSmart network management and security technologies. Rounding out the network is the XAP-1020 WAP, which is designed to mount on a wall or ceiling and it incorporates Luxul’s Xen3D technology which is said to provide four times more coverage than standard wireless gear.

imageLuxul 24-Port Rack-Mountable Gigabit Ethernet Switch (XGS-1024)

Setup
With my system I took the approach of replacing each of my network’s 10/100 Base-T switches one-by-one to see how it would affect my network. After the switches I added the WAP, and I concluded with the router.

For the most part the installation went flawlessly. I did have a little problem logging into the menu of the WAP, but it worked nevertheless. I also had issues with the router setup, admittedly due to my lack of networking background (to its credit, Luxul has extensive training for custom installers, many of whom are like me in that their experience is in audio and video).

After failing to install the router on my own, I spoke with the customer support staff and they talked me through the install. It turns out that I connected the Cat 6 cable from my modem to the wrong input on the router. This port isn’t as clearly marked as a consumer-grade product. After connecting the Cat 6 to the proper WAN port we walked through the connection settings, the security settings and verified the firmware. Once that was done I was able to access the configuration of the WAP and we set the connection and security options, and verified the WAP’s firmware.

All told, even with my missteps the setup took approximately 90 minutes. I would expect a trained person to cut down that time, and with the added time of the switches an installer can reasonably expect a couple of hours to set up and configure a typical large Luxul home network.

imageDownload this case study to see how the Luxul Xen XAP-1020 802.11n Wireless Access Point provided complete coverage to all three levels, the garage and surrounding outdoor areas of a 7500-square-foot home with a single access point.

Performance
It seems the older my kids get, the more dependent we are on networked technology in our home and the Luxul solution became the rock of my home’s demands. My two children can stream Netflix simultaneously on separate devices without any hiccups from the system, for example.

I tested the speeds of my Netgear 802.11n router against the WAP, and the WAP in combination with the Luxul and Netgear routers. According to the Speedtest.net app, which I installed onto an iPad2, when I compared the ping, upload and download capabilities the Luxul WAP blew away my Netgear router in both ping and downloads. The upload speeds were similar, but the decisiveness of the ping and download speeds was overwhelmingly in favor of the Luxul.

I also compared the range of the Luxul WAP and the Netgear router and I found the WAP to deliver noticeably more coverage around my house.

Getting back to the speed comparisons, I tested the network with the full complement of Luxul gear. What I found was that I got about 2Mbps on average more speed with the Luxul router and WAP than what I got from the combination of the WAP and Netgear router.

Lastly, since the installation of the Luxul system I haven’t had to reset/power cycle the router once.

Value
The value of a commercial-grade system in the home may be difficult to convey, but this type of system should be viewed as a future-proof investment. Its dividends may not show immediately, but it is definitely worth it.

To consistently achieve network speeds of approximately 30Mbps and to have full coverage in my typical American home is something that I will no longer take for granted.



  About the Author

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at [email protected]

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