For awhile now, we've talked about how NETGEAR is starting to truly stand out among networking brands aiming at SMBs. They've been parlaying their experience with making easy-to-use consumer products and pairing it with business-grade hardware. The result are small business networking products that combine top-end features, simple daily usage, and surprisingly low price points.
The new NETGEAR ProSAFE WAC720 wireless-ac access point is a perfect example of this philosophy. It's a WAP even the smallest businesses can afford, while bringing plenty of high-end features and 802.11ac speeds.
A First Look At The NETGEAR ProSAFE WAC720-100NES
The WAC720 is an 802.11ac wireless access point featuring a 2x2 MIMO antenna array, giving it maximum speeds of 1.2Gbps. This makes it ideal for modern startups looking to support a BYOD environment with mobile-focused workers. It can dual-broadcast on both the 2.4ghz and 5ghz frequency ranges, giving it great compatibility in environments with existing wireless\cordless devices, while also deploying 802.11ac beamshaping to improve signal range.
Input comes via a standard RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet port, and it also features an external antenna connector. It fully supports Power-over-Ethernet as well, allowing it to run solely off PoE power. It also features many standard security features, including 802.1X/RADIUS and WPS/WPS2/WEP authentication.
Given its low price point, all this alone would make it worth a serious look for any operation looking for affordable Gigabit WiFi options.
Multiple Control Options
Where this access point truly shines is in the variety of options owners will have for controlling and configuring their devices. Setup itself is handled through a simplified web GUI which is among the simplest in the industry, and designed specifically for shops without network experts on-site.
However, out of the box, the ProSAFE 720 can be controlled either as a Standalone device or in NETGEAR Ensemble mode. An Ensemble is a group of up to ten WAC720 or WAC730 wireless-ac access points, which are share group settings. Multi-WAP configuration couldn't be simpler: editing the configuration of one member of an Ensemble automatically re-configures all other Ensemble members to match.
This extends to firmware\software updates as well, greatly simplifying ongoing maintenance of multiple access points.
Additionally, software updates are due in Q1 of 2016 which will bring more value to the package by adding two additional control options. In Controller mode, the access point can be controlled via physical ProSAFE wireless controllers. Or, you will be able to use NETGEAR's own Business Central Wireless Manager for controller-less Cloud-based management.
In short, whether your WiFi network design is ad-hoc, hardware-based, or cloud-based, this access point will be able to fit in seamlessly.
Differences Between the WAC720 and WAC730
If you're wondering whether the higher-priced model is worth the extra money, there is only one significant difference between them. The ProSAFE WAC730 utilizes a 3x3 antenna array, and so it has higher maximum throughput: up to 1.7Gbps.
The feature set is otherwise identical. It's simply a matter of how much speed you want to pay for.
NETGEAR: Making Waves In SMB Networking
Overall, the NETGEAR ProSAFE WAC 720 is an excellent value, putting Gigabit WiFi speeds and SMB-friendly software into an attractive modern casing at highly affordable prices.
If your operation is still using off-the-shelf consumer-grade hardware, this new entry into the NETGEAR ProSAFE line would be a great way to jump into enterprise-grade connectivity. With the upcoming feature set update, the 720 will be ready to provide years of scalable service. Plus, you get their industry-leading lifetime warranty policies.
Want to learn more? Just contact Hummingbird Networks for more information on business networking!