The need for faster and faster bandwidth speeds has created something of an arms race with makers of WiFi devices, hiking speeds and cutting costs. The trickle-down effect is that you get more for less. As the cost comes down, what makes one brand different from another is not price but style and power.
In this article we look at the latest router from Xiaomi, the Mi Wifi Router 3, which has good looks and power in abundance.
Style Over Substance?
Xiaomi have always had a highly evolved sense of style, and this stylish design sense permeates everything they make – leading edge technology which not only looks good but works well.
In the box you get the router itself, a power supply and a small tri-fold paper manual.
It’s a very attractive case, with its four upright aerials. It’s great to have functional equipment like this look appealing because it means you don’t have to hide it. It looks a bit like an Imperial Shuttle from Star Wars. The top is flat and featureless (apart from a discreet logo) and wedge-shaped. The bottom is curved and perforated for heat flow.
Everything about the build quality is solid, and the aerials snap up to attention with a satisfying and positive action. You can also lean them over or arrange them either for better signal or just for looks.
The unit has two Ethernet inputs and a port for the WAN, the connection to your modem. There is also a USB port for fitting a hard drive or USB stick.
One of the nice features of this router is it has a dedicated mobile app to administer its settings. This is handy as usually you have to use a browser on a computer to do router admin, but with this you can just do it on your phone.
As with remote admin, you also can manage router activity, block access for unknown users, etc. If an unknown user tries to join your network, the system will send a notification message to your phone. Access can be granted or closed, sending the user to the blacklist.
A slight downside is the app does suffer from a lack of back buttons, so when you fail to sign into the router, for some reason it’ll keep trying, and you can’t exit without quitting the app. Also, the documentation is thin, so if you want to do anything out of the ordinary, you’ll have to guess or look it up on the Internet, which although perfectly legitimate, is not ideal.
If you already have a WiFi aerial in the house but want to extend your coverage, then the unit can serve also as a repeater and a very high powered one at that.
Why would I want it?
Despite the lack of docs, this is a very good router. It’s powerful, it has four high gain antennas which can reach to every corner of the house, and it uses 802.11ac WiFi technology to triple the usual speeds. You can also have up to 126 devices connected at once, and that would be a challenge to fill up for even the most avid Internet of Things fan.
We tested the router in a normal suburban house, and it performed very well for coverage, noticeably better than standard WiFi. We didn’t map it out really accurately, but a casual stroll with a WiFi meter and a phone showed that in a few known dead spots the coverage was much better. Having four brand new high gain antennas really helps both the coverage and the gain of the signal.
Often domestic units have a limit to how many devices they can support, which is never usually stated on the box. You just know it when you lose your IP address on the network. But with every person in a family bringing at least three to six WiFi capable devices each to the home, it soon mounts up, and having 126 potential connections, the Xiaomi goes a long way to making sure you never run out.
At around $30, it’s a bargain.
Pros: Very stylish and solidly built. Looks like a tool and not a toy. Lots of device connections, high power coverage and beautifully fast. Very easy setup using the mobile app.
Cons: Drops a point for lack of supplied documentation. The mobile app gives you access to settings, and you can muddle through, but there’s no proper walkthrough.
Overall the Xiaomi Mi WiFi Router 3 is a great router with a generous speed boost and fills a lot of the dead spots in your home.
Thanks for joining us for this review, and as always, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section below.