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Wireless Reviews

Dual-Band Indoor 2x2 802.11ac Access Point
At a glance
ProductXclaim Wireless Dual-Band Indoor 2x2 802.11ac Access Point (Xi-3)   [Website]
SummaryAC1200 class consumer SOHO / small-biz focused access point.
Pros• Automatic band steering, traffic prioritization, airtime fairness and channel selection
• Free cloud-based manager
Cons• Lacks roaming / fast handoff features
• Can't fall back to local management if cloud goes offline
• Harmony app requires frequent reauthentication

Overview

Updated 7/18/2015 - Incorporate feature information from Xclaim

Ruckus Wireless has traditionally focused on carrier and enterprise wireless products. Last October, Ruckus launched the Xclaim product line with a focus on smaller networks. As professed on Xclaim's website, Ruckus has "taken the performance, reliability and robust feature sets of big business wireless, and eliminated all of the cost and complexity."

The Xclaim product suite includes four models of Access Points (APs), listed below. The Xi-1, Xi-2, and Xi-3 are indoor APs, while the Xo-1 is an outdoor AP.

Xclaim APs

Xclaim APs

Tim covered the dual-band 802.11n Xi-2 AP in this review, which found Xclaim's app-based Harmony management both underwhelming for features and frustrating to use. Since then, Ruckus has enhanced its Xclaim family by releasing CloudManager as an alternative to Harmony and tweaking the Harmony app itself. In this review, I'm going to cover the dual-band 802.11ac Xi-3 AP and explore the latest version of Harmony and provide a first look at CloudManager for configuring and managing a small multi-AP Xclaim network.

Xi-3 AP

The Xi-3 is housed in a white plastic square measuring 6.2"x6.2"x1.57". It can be placed on a desktop or wall-mounted. Mounting options are similar to the Xi-2, with no mounting plate included.

On the backside of the Xi-3 is a 12V DC power connection. 803.3af/at Power over Ethernet (PoE) is also supported via one of the two Gigabit Ethernet ports. A PoE injector is included with the AP, but a 12V DC power supply is not.

Also on the back, the Xi-3 has two 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet ports vs. the single Gigabit Ethernet port on the Xi-2. One port on the Xi-3 is a PoE port, the other is not. The reset switch is also on the back. The photo below shows the Xi-3's rear ports.

Xi-3 Rear Ports

Xi-3 Rear Ports

As with the Xi-2, there is a single LED on the front of the device. The LED is red when the device is first powered on, blinks green when it is waiting to be "claimed" by Harmony or CloudManager then solid green when it is connected to Harmony or CloudManager and operational.

The blinking green state is important, as it appears this is an indicator of the current firmware. I had some initial difficulties with the Xi-2 that I'll discuss shortly that turned out to be due to an older version of firmware on the device.

Inside

The Xclaim Xi-3's motherboard is interesting. As you can see in the image below of the top side of the motherboard from the FCC ID documents, Ruckus branding is quite evident. That's because the Xi-3's hardware is the same as Ruckus' ZoneFlex R500.

Mainboard Top

Mainboard Top

The Xi-3, however, doesn't have all the R500's features enabled and runs different firmware.

Mainboard Bottom

Mainboard Bottom

Many of the key components are covered by the large metal portions on the mainboard. Below is a listing of Xi-3 key components, provided by Xclaim, alongside the Xi-2's.

  Xclaim Xi-3 Xclaim Xi-2
CPU QCA9557 dual-band, 2x2 802.11n SoC Atheros AR9344 802.11n 2x3 dual-band SoC
Ethernet QCA8337 Gigabit Ethernet switch Atheros AR8035 Gigabit Ethernet PHY
RAM 256 MB DDR3 128 MB Winbond W9751G6KB-25 (x2)
Flash 64 MB 32 MB Spansion S25FL256SAIFR0
2.4 GHz Radio In QCA9557
- In AR9344
- SST12LP15A 2.4 GHz power amplifier (x2)
5 GHz radio QCA9882 2x2 802.11ac/a/b/g/n radio
- Atheros AR9582
- SST11LP12 5 GHz power amplifier (x2)
Table 1: Xclaim Xi-3 key component summary and comparison

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