Review: Hands on with the Vodafone Ultrahub

10 October 2017

OPINION PIECE Pat Pilcher

I love tech and all things shiny, but for the love of all that is good in the world, Wi-Fi drives me mad.

Like most city dwellers, my house is in a sea of competing Wi-Fi signals. Because of this, Wi-Fi reception crumbles in the outermost rooms of my home. It gets drowned out by competing Wi-Fi signals.

Then there’s Wi-Fi performance. I love my multi-zone music system, cameras, security alarm, smart speakers and all the other connected widgets throughout my home. They feel very Jetson-like when they work.

Trouble is our poor router struggles to keep up with so many connected devices. This crashes, requiring my over-worked router to be reset. Sigh

Coverage/Reception

The folks at Vodafone must’ve heard my howls of frustration. They’ve launched the new Ultra Hub. It's designed to make getting reliable Wi-Fi a hassle-free process. A built in ADSL/VDSL modem means it'll play nice with old-school broadband. A WAN port also mean that the Ultra Hub caters for those lucky enough to have Fibre or FibreX.

Wi-Fi reception issues were the bane of my life, until I set up the Ultra Hub. The beamforming technology under its hood means I now get way better Wi-Fi reception. In non-geek speak, Beamforming see’s the Ultra Hub blasting a focused beam of Wi-Fi in the path of the connected gear.

Further helping thing along are Vodafone’s Wi-Fi extenders. They’re sold separately as a single or a pair in the box.

One connects to the Ultra Hub. The other gets placed halfway between the Ultra Hub and Wi-Fi coverage dead spots. These re-broadcast your Wi-Fi.

This means your Wi-Fi’s signal is strong enough to penetrate most coverage blackspots. For larger homes, you can use up to three extenders. Like the Ultra Hub, the extenders are a doddle to set up, and the difference they make is huge.

Location Location Location

One of the big factors affecting Wi-Fi in most typical kiwi homes is the location of the Wi-Fi router. As the easy to read Ultra Hub setup guide explains, your router should be in the middle of your home. It should also be as unobscured by objects and up as high as you can get it too.

The reason for this is that when a wireless signal passes through an object, its signal gets weakened. Multiply that by all the walls in your home and it isn’t hard to see why there’s so often Wi-Fi coverage holes.

Performance

A big bonus with the Ultra Hub is the sheer speed it can deliver. Because It uses the latest 4x4 802.11AC Wi-Fi protocol, it is fast. For 802.11AC compatible widgets connected, the speed improvements are massive. This results in zippier browsing, less gaming lag and stutter free streamed video.

Improved speed and coverage is only half the story. Managing the load placed on the Ultrahub by my many connected widgets was a breeze.

This is thanks to the Ultra Hub’s beefy spec. Tucked away inside the Ultra Hub is a dual core Broadcom CPU with 256MB DDR3 RAM. This allowed the Ultra Hub to handle loads that’d bring a lot of other home routers to their knees. Random lock-ups/crashes and resets have since ceased to be a problem.

Bells and Whistles

Aside from offering solid performance, the Ultra Hub is also kitted out. A USB port allows for nifty features such as network storage. This happens when you plug a USB hard drive into the Ultra Hub. Everyone connected to the Ultra Hub’s Wi-Fi can then load and save files and media to a central source. Handy eh!

Another killer benefit of a USB port on the Ultra Hub is that you can plug in a Vodafone 4G USB Mobile Broadband stick. This'll keep you connected, even if there’s a fault with your wired broadband. For wired gear there’s also 3x gigabit Ethernet ports. These connect wired gear at a blazing 1000Mbps.

Verdict

For putting the zing back into your broadband and banishing Wi-Fi Gremlins, an Ultra Hub and range extender combo is hard to beat.

Review: Hands on with the Vodafone Ultrahub