Why I chose UniFi vs AmpliFi HD


I just had a brief exchange with a friend on Twitter who suggested that AmpliFi HD, not UniFi was the product Ubiquiti was building for users like me.

I thought folks might be interested in why I didn’t go that route so here is another post 🙂

I did look at AmpliFi HD, in fact, my eldest son tried to convince me to ditch the Google WiFi for AmpliFi HD shortly after it came out.

When I looked into the AmpliFi HD, my conclusion was that it was a less well featured (e.g. it didn’t seem to have the home automation, parental controls, etc features) Google WiFi with better radios and I was largely satisfied with the radio coverage I had with Google WiFi so I was not compelled to make the change.

One of the pain points I did have with my Google WiFi solution was that I had to find places to stash four Google WiFi access points to get sufficient coverage for all the devices in my network. The devices themselves look OK but we really do try to hide all the tech in the house and live by the motto “less is more” so this is a pain we did feel.

The AmpliFi didn’t really have a solution to this problem either, in fact I now probably needed more, smaller units for proper coverage. The upside of which is that those smaller units would have been less visible which would have been nice. On the other hand, I find the kids are often unplugging things in the house to free up outlets or to simply mess with me and the design of the AmpliFi mesh units are such I feared that would happen a lot.

When I looked at the UI on the AmpliFi products my conclusion was it was a stripped down UniFi vs a product designed as a high-end WiFi product. This is in contrast to the Google WiFi which felt like it was a sincere attempt at rethinking the whole user experience.

This combined with the lack of integration with a larger ecosystem (home automation, etc) made it really hard to justify migrating off of Google WiFi.

My conclusion (right or otherwise) from my research was at best I would end up with marginally better coverage and a new set of limitations as a trade-off. It just did not justify the change.

When I re-visited the decision to replace my wireless deployment I was more-or-less fed-up. I did not want to mess with this again anytime soon so I decided to go big or go home. This led me to the switch to UniFi which in turn also led me to the switch to Protect.

If I was the target user the AmpliFi team was looking for I think they missed a few things:

  • I want less clutter, not more, the square design of the AmpliFi presumes public display of a piece of electronics I don’t want that.
  • The mesh does not support wired backhaul, and the distance between where it would be natural to use them would be quite far. Wireless backhaul had caused me some pain with Google WiFi so I was not sure this would work well for me.
  • I also didn’t want 4-6 outlets being occupied in the house, even though the mesh adapters are smaller than the Google Wifi, more is still a pain, especially given kids are not likely to leave them alone.
  • I have some basic home automation and the AmpliFi product doesn’t offer any story here.
  • I liked the parental controls I had with Google WiFi and it seemed I could approximate that but not in an easy way.
  • I liked how I can manage my parents and cousins WiFi’s in Google WiFi; it gives me a one-stop shop for how to deal with issues when people call me. I recall coming to the conclusion this was missing and if nothing else the friction of replacing their WiFi’s to be uniform would have been a barrier.
  • I have Fiber and I understood you had to run the device in bridge mode in this case service which takes away a lot of the features of the AmpliFi HD system.
  • The CloudKey Gen2 Plus having the built-in NVR meant I could consolidate how I dealt with cameras at the same time; one less thing to deal with and after a year the cost savings would allow me to break even and later save.

I basically concluded that my home was “too big” for the AmpliFi HD and that the incremental benefit of switching to it from Google WiFi was not worth the effort.

This could be marketing, this could also be poor product planning, or maybe I was just not the target customer. It is hard to say without knowing a bit more about how the product planning was done here.

In any event as the earlier post states, I’ve gone all UniFi now and I look forward to seeing how that works for us over the next year.

2 thoughts on “Why I chose UniFi vs AmpliFi HD

  1. Jim Fenton

    I have had UniFi for quite some time and have been very happy with it. I would be less happy with the AmpliFi product for much the same reasons as you: I want the tech to be invisible. Two of my three access points are up in the attic where they’re out of sight but have wide coverage of the house and yard, and the other is where there had been an Ethernet jack in the kitchen. Temperature range of the attic APs seems to deal with hot summer temps. They’re nicely thought-out products.

    Reply
  2. rmhrisk Post author

    I ended up mounting my APs outside attic but in at least two cases I could have done so; now I’m rethinking that — thanks 🙂

    Reply

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