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Zyxel NWA1302-AC review: The perfect companion for cloud-managed networking

An affordable solution for teaming up in-room 11ac wireless, Gigabit LAN and PoE+ services with cloud management

Price
£124
  • Great security features; Slick remote management via Zyxel Nebula; Good range and speeds
  • Nebula console doesn’t show rogue APs or attached devices

Zyxel's NWA1302-AC is a wireless AP with a difference: along with 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless services, this little white box has three Gigabit LAN ports with one PoE+ enabled. These features make it ideal for deployment in hotels and offices, as it can deliver full wired and wireless network services as well as powering devices such as IP phones.

Even better, it offers a choice of three management options. It can operate in standalone mode, link up with the ZAC (Zyxel AP Configuration) Windows utility or be cloud managed using ZyXEL's free Nebula platform.

The NWA1302-AC has a sturdy white plastic cover and metal baseplate. Its main Gigabit uplink port is hidden underneath and the kit includes a metal mounting plate so it can be fitted over a discrete wall port.

Business features abound; this AC1200 AP supports concurrent 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless and has Zyxel's integral 3G/4G interference immunity. Unlike the latest Wave 2 APs, it only supports SU-MIMO (single user multiple input multiple output) technology but we don't see a problem here as it isn't aimed at serving a large user base.

For testing, we connected the AP's uplink port to the lab's TP-Link TL-SG3424P PoE+ switch allowing it to deliver full power to the first LAN port. The web console is consistent across all Zyxel's business wireless APs and presents a customisable dashboard displaying details on device status, utilization, wireless interfaces and detected rogue APs.

An extra network neighbour widget shows devices connected to the three LAN ports and it correctly identified our Yealink T23G IP phone. Up to eight SSIDs per radio are supported and each one can be customised with security profiles.

Along with authentication, profiles apply QoS (quality of service) voice or video traffic prioritization, L2 isolation and MAC address black and white lists. Rogue AP detection is enabled on both radios and it classifies those with weak encryption keys or hidden SSIDs which can be placed in rogue or friendly lists.

For such a small AP, real-world performance is quite reasonable. Our Netgear AC1200-equipped Windows 10 Pro desktop averaged 42MB/sec when copying a file to a server on the LAN from close range while at 10m, we saw a drop to 38MB/sec.

Range is good - we took an iPad 40m down the main building corridor before the SweetSpots iOS app registered a signal dropout. If you're deploying the NWA1320-AC in a hotel room, it'll easily cover an entire suite.

The NWA1320-AC also delivers good Gigabit LAN speeds. With a desktop PC connected to the second LAN port, we copied files between this and a server on the main wired network and recorded read and write speeds of 106MB/sec and 100MB/sec.

Importing the AP into our Nebula cloud account was easy: we simply entered its MAC address and serial number. After one minute, it appeared online in the portal and had local web management access disabled.

Nebula manages Zyxel's cloud-enabled firewalls, switches and wireless devices and its home page can be switched between viewing them all or APs only. The home page is very informative and shows total traffic and all connected wireless clients along with their OS.

Selecting an AP presents live and historical traffic graphs but rogue detection services aren't available and although it listed the AP's three LAN ports, it didn't show attached devices. A maximum of eight SSIDs are supported and can be broadcast by all APs or only those with a custom tag assigned.

Along with their own authentication scheme, SSIDs can apply L2 isolation, bandwidth restrictions, captive portals and walled gardens. Logging in the free Nebula version is limited to seven days but all versions support power schedules and automated AP firmware upgrades.

Zyxel's versatile NWA1302-AC provides a full set of in-room network services in a discrete package. It's easy to deploy, offers multiple management options and its low price will appeal to small businesses.

Verdict

Zyxel’s versatile NWA1302-AC provides a full set of in-room network services in a discrete package. It’s easy to deploy, offers multiple management options and its low price will appeal to small businesses.

Dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ac
2 x 2 SU-MIMO internal aerial
Gigabit pass-through port
Three x Gigabit (2 x LAN, 1 x PoE/PoE+)
Wall mounting kit
90 x 170 x 29mm (WDH)
540g
Limited lifetime warranty

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