The world's first 802.11ac wireless router is the Buffalo AirStation 1750 WZR-D1800H. We put this breakthrough new statement in Wi-Fi technology to the test. Read more wireless router reviews.
We’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of 802.11ac, the latest development in wireless data tech. With 11n still usually performing slower than last century’s 100Mbps wired ethernet, a truly nippy wireless system is long overdue.
Several big-name router manufacturers pledged support for the emerging higher-speed 11ac standard earlier this year, but Buffalo was the first to deliver a working 802.11ac product into the UK.
But 11ac is still a fledgling technology and not complete: as of August 2012, the products we’ve seen so far are specified to Draft 2.0. If it’s anything like the development of Draft-11n, it could be several years before we see the final ratified version: it’s currently scheduled for sign-off in February 2014.
That doesn’t stop equipment from being used today of couse. And Draft-n hardware was upgradable to the final version through firmware or software patches, so early adopters of 11n products were not left with obsolete hardware.
The Buffalo AirStation 1750, also known as the WZR-D1800H, is a dual-band wireless router that operates on the common 2.4GHz frequency used by 11b, 11g and 11n, as well as over 5GHz optionally used by 802.11n.
There’s also the option here for 802.11a, although this old standard is rarely since it became outclassed in speed and range by 11n and even 11g.
Of most interest on the Buffalo router is of course its 802.11ac capability, for the vaunted gigabit speed. In fact, in its current top-spec form, 802.11ac is described with speeds up to 1300Mbps.
Our real-world tests of the Buffalo AirStation 1750 fell far short of any four-figure speeds. New samples were supplied in case the first were faulty. The results from the second set were close enough to the first to conclude that the only fault here lies in the way the technology is being marketed.
The ‘1750’ in the name refers to the sum of the notional speeds from both 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios added together. That’s 450Mbps plus 1300Mbps to make 1750Mbps.
Buffalo AirStation 1750: Hardware
The Buffalo AirStation 1750 usually stands 214mm high in its upright state, although some cunning removable platform feet mean you can equally lie the AirStation 1750 down flat, where it stands 52mm high. Long fixing screws are included to wall-mount the unit.
It looks as well suited in its landscape orientation as portrait, except for the light-up white Buffalo logo, which undermines the effect as it looks like the router’s fallen over.
The Buffalo AirStation 1750 can take it lying down thanks to its adaptable feet
Smart and businesslike with its matt black sides and gunmetal-coloured surround band, the Buffalo AirStation 1750 is surprisingly light notwithstanding its all-plastic casework.
Running up the rear edge are the necessary wired ins and outs – gigabit ethernet for WAN, four more of the same for LAN, 12V DC power, and USB 2.0 for printer or storage sharing.
The Buffalo Air Station 1750 front and back showing smart metal-effect band
As a premium product it would deserve faster USB 3.0 ports to benefit connected USB drives when shared over gigabit wired networks.
As with many modern consumer wireless routers, all antennae are hidden inside, contributing to a less alien aspect to the living room.
Buffalo AirStation 1750: Software
Setting up the AirStation 1750 is relatively straightforward if you’re familiar with the basic of a router’s webpage interface. Buffalo uses primarily text-based admin pages, somewhat dated looking, but it gets the job done.
By default the router sets up a local network of the form 192.168.11.x. Wireless setup is made confusing by Buffalo’s choice of names for the two networks – by default something like BUFFALO-334455_A for the 5GHz waveband and BUFFALO-334455_G for 2.4GHz. We’d suggest changing these when setting up to something with more meaningful suffices such as BUFFALO-2.4 and BUFFALO-5.
Delving into the advanced configuration pages there’s enough to keep technical dabblers busy, although we can appreciate why the WMM-EDCA Parameter page is headed ‘Please do not change these settings’ in red letters. Suffice to say, there are deep settings available to suit more technical users.
Changing settings through the admin interface could become tiresome, as most adjustments forced the router to reboot each time, adding delay to each change of settings.