Review: Amped Wireless AP20000G access point

We’ve recently done reviews on the Amped Wireless R10000G and R20000G wireless routers and the SR20000G wireless repeater and have been very impressed with the quality, features, and functionality of the devices. Next up, we take a look at the Amped Wireless AP20000G, a dual band wireless access point that can be used to extend your wireless (and wired) network.

Setup of the AP20000G is extremely simple. Initially, just hard-wire the device into your existing network and wait three minutes for it to configure itself. It grabs an IP address via DHCP and you’re ready to point a web browser at the address to begin further configuration steps such as setting up the Wi-Fi. On the downside, if you have a customized network and aren’t just using defaults, it can be difficult to figure out what IP address was assigned to the router. I personally had to run an nmap scan against my network to figure out the IP address it was using. If most people use the standard 192.168.x.x range, the setup would be easier.

Device configuration is very easy. Once you point your web browser at the access point, you’re greeted with the dashboard and there’s a large “Basic Setup” button at the bottom. Clicking through lets you set the time on the router, followed by the 5.0 GHz and 2.4 GHz SSIDs and security keys. That’s all there is to it. You can either use the same SSID as your main wireless network or, if you prefer more granular control, can select a completely unique one. We tried it both ways and had no issues, but we do prefer to know what network we’re connected to so did most testing with a unique name.

According to Amped Wireless, the internal hardware of the AP20000G is very similar to all of their other devices; the major differences revolve around the firmware. We expected as much after running some of our tests and seeing similar results to the other devices. We view this as a positive, since performance has never been an issue with any of Amped Wireless’ devices. However we would expect that prices would be lower given the fact that most of the cost revolves around software; Amped Wireless’ products cost a bit more than their competitors. That said, the box says the AP20000G only covers up to 7,500 square feet, unlike their other wireless devices that cover up to 10,000 square feet.

Unfortunately, the AP20000G isn’t without its problems. First, we initially ran into the same problem as we did with the SR20000G when it came to setting up our wireless key: The interface wouldn’t let us type in a long key, instead limiting it to 32 characters. As they did before, they quickly updated the firmware to allow up to 64 characters, but you would think this is something that should be standard in the firmware and not require to constantly remind them of the shortcoming.

A few other issues revolve around security. First, the default configuration provides no password security for the dashboard. This means that anyone on your internal network is able to login to the AP20000G and change configurations. This can be modified by going into the “Management->Password” section of the configuration menu, but we feel that it should be set by default.

Another issue is that your wireless security key is always displayed on the dashboard in cleartext. Combine that with the default configuration of anyone on your network being able to connect to the AP20000G and you have the keys to the kingdom displayed for all to see.

The security hat-trick is on display when you configure the wireless network keys: The browser not only displays the keys in cleartext again, but the browser also automatically remembers previously entered values into the field. This means that even if a firmware update hides the key in other places, it would once again be available here. When we contacted Amped Wireless about these concerns, they downplayed the issue.

The engineers decided that if somebody is already logged onto the network to view the dashboard, that means that they already have access to the Wi-Fi network and its password so there is no security issue there.  If they wish to protect the menu further from being shown they can set a password to login.

While the statements are technically true, the concept of “defense in depth” is an important one in security, and Amped Wireless is acting as a weak link in the chain.

The access point has a USB port that provides basic filesharing capabilities when a drive is connected, but we doubt this is a feature most people will use. The device also has four Gigabit Ethernet port (five if you include the uplink port).

Overall we came away impressed with both the ease of setup and the range of the device. If you have a wired connection in part of your home but have a poor wireless signal there, this would be a great solution to help bridge that problem. The ability to broadcast across both the 5.0 and 2.4 GHz spectrums gives extra flexibility. We found that by connecting the device in our office and setting our phone to use the 5.0 GHz signal increased our download speeds compared with connecting to the 2.4 GHz signal coming from the basement, two floors down. Does it justify the $169.99 price tag? There are cheaper devices on the market that we haven’t had a chance to test, but aside from Amped Wireless not hiding the wireless keys, we have no complaints about this device and can strongly recommend it.


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