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Features and Admin

Setup and management is via Android and iOS apps; there is no web GUI. I used the Android 3.3.2.1953 app and V1.0.0.14(4258) firmware for the review. Setup is refreshingly different from setting up a typical Wi-Fi system. Basically, once you make it past the connection screen below, you are prompted to enter a network name/SSID and password and that's pretty much it. The root node automatically finds other nodes and adds them to the mesh.

Nova is a self-contained system that doesn't rely on a cloud service for system operation. It does, however, rely on a Tenda-hosted relay service to authenticate Nova logins. The exception to this is during initial setup before you've given Tenda either your email or a mobile phone number to establish an account. When you initially connect to Nova's SSID, you're sent right to the setup screens.

I had intermittent problems reliably connecting to Nova. Some days the app would connect just fine. On others, I couldn't get past the screen below, no matter what I did, including multiple reboots, app reinstalls and memory clears and even after resetting Nova to factory default.

Tenda Nova No Connection screen

Tenda Nova No Connection screen

Even when I could connect, the "Failed to connect to the router" message would often come up and I'd get sent back to the No Connection screen. Very annoying.

Tenda Nova No Connection screen

Tenda Nova No Connection screen

It also appears that the app has no way to connect to Nova without reaching out to its cloud relay server, even if you are directly connected to Nova's Wi-Fi. I later learned the trick to local management is to disconnect your modem or ISP router from Nova. Once the WAN port was disconnected, I was able to get past the connect screen to the other administration pages. Tenda has some work to do here. The good news is the network appears to keep running if internet goes down, so at least local traffic will be ok.

Once the app launches, you'll get the Home screen shown below. Similar to Zyxel's Multy X, the speeds shown here are supposed to be real-time throughput being used. There currently is no way to check your internet connection speed to the Nova's WAN port, as many other Wi-Fi Systems have. Tenda says they plan to add this feature at some point.

Tenda Nova My WiFi screen

Tenda Nova My WiFi screen

I started and stopped downloading a very large file a few times and the speed displays properly showed my 10/1 DSL connection maxed out. When stopping and starting the download, there was a 5-8 second delay between my action and the speed display change.

The app has just two menus, the My WiFi shown above and Settings, shown below. The Settings menu is more than one screen long, so the image below was cut-and-pasted from three screen grabs.

Nova app - Diagnose, Parental Control, Setttings screens

Nova app - Diagnose, Parental Control, Setttings screens

Nova's feature set is summarized in the tables below. Nova supports both AP mode (bridging the NAT router portion) and Ethernet backhaul. It also supports the unusual combination of 802.11v and r (products usually support k and v), which is disabled by default and enabled via the Fast Roaming Settings menu. There is no RSSI-based roaming assist to help move devices that don't support 802.11v and r. Band steering is also supported, but only from 2.4 to 5 GHz for dual-band devices.

Features
# of Ethernet ports2
Max WAN Ports1
CPURealtek RTL8812BRH
RAM (MB)128
Flash (MB)16
FirmwareV1.0.0.14(4258)
Cloud Service
N
Web Admin
N
DHCP Reserve
N
Ethernet backhaul
Y
AP Mode
Y
Wireless Bridge
Y
Wireless
System TypeMesh
# of Wi-Fi radios2
# of streams2
ClassAC1200
Wi-Fi Radio 12.4 GHz: Realtek RTL8197FS + Skyworks SKY85331-11 2.4 GHz front end(x2)
Wi-Fi Radio 25 GHz: In RTL8812BRH + Skyworks 85743-11 5 GHz front end (x2)
Wi-Fi Radio 3N/A
Bluetooth RadioNone
IoT RadioNone
FCC IDV7TMESH3S
AntennaInternal
WPS
N
RADIUS
N
MU-MIMO
Y
Guest Network
Y
Band Steering
Y
AP Steering
N
Roam Assist11vr
NotesDual-band devices are steered to 5 GHz
Firewall
Port Forward
Y
DMZ
N
Content Filtering
N
Rogue Device Block
N
Threat Protection
N
Internet Pause
Y
User Accounts
Y
UPnP
Y
UPnP disable
Y
Notes- Devices can be blacklisted
- Devices must be assigned to a group to pause internet
WAN
Static
Y
Dynamic
Y
PPPoE
Y
PPTP
N
L2TP
N
IPv6
N
QoS
Device Priority
N
Traffic Priority
N
DirectionN/A

Nova FAQ say a total of 10 nodes can be supported, but recommends stopping at six "considering to the network stability". Since Nova is available only in a three-pack, you might want to wait to see if Tenda offers Nova singles before expanding.

The gallery has more screenshots and commentary.

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