Synology MR2200ac Mesh Router
- Easy to set up and easy to use
- Excellent Wi-Fi coverage, expandable with mesh
- Cutting edge security protocols
- Parental controls
- Sinlge LAN port
Regular readers of Blog of Dad know that I love all things tech. In 2018 our house well-and-truly entered the future, with Alexa and Google Assistant controlled smart speakers, internet connected robot vacuum cleaners and even a Wi-Fi-enabled television remote.
A quick count in my house reveals that there are 14 different devices that are capable of connecting to the network. That is mind-boggling, considering that when I purchased my previous Wi-Fi router, I had about four or five. The fact is, there are more and more demands on my home network and that isn’t going to go away. If I don’t want the whole thing to come crumbling down, I need reliable Wi-Fi that won’t collapse under the weight of modern requirements. That’s where the Synology MR2200ac Mesh Router comes in.
Disclosure: Synology provided Blog of Dad with the Synology MR2200ac Mesh Router for the purpose of review. All thoughts expressed about the MR2200ac are my own, based on my experiences with the device.
Dad-Blogger, not Tech Guru
Let’s get this bit out of the way at the beginning. I’m no tech expert. I’m a parent. So why on earth have Synology asked me to review one of their latest pieces of tech gear…?
For exactly that reason. The MR2200ac is undoubtedly a quality piece of equipment and there are any number of technically-minded geniuses with reviews on their websites stating as much. But, what about for the average person? Is the Synology MR2200ac mesh router simple and reliable enough to make it a worthwhile investment for us?
Well, they don’t get too much more average than me, so let’s find out…
What is a Mesh Router?
A mesh router is the evolution of Wi-Fi inside your home. It is the solution to dead spots, with the capacity to use multiple routers to create a large mesh network. With a mesh Wi-Fi network, users can move seamlessly around the house while maintaining their network connection.
With an intelligent mesh network like the Synology MR2200ac, it gets even better. The MR2200ac automatically steers a device to the band that gives the strongest signal and speed – no more separate 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks!
Best of all, a quality mesh router (or series of mesh routers) like the MR2200ac provides more than enough capacity to support the ever-growing collection of internet-enabled devices in your home.
Even though mesh routers are designed to work together to provide great WiFI coverage in larger homes, the Synology MR2200ac can also be used as a standalone Wi-Fi router. That is the configuration in which I am testing it.
Setting up new equipment can be a nightmare for those of us who didn’t graduate from MIT with a Master’s degree. Thankfully, Synology have simplified the process of setting up the MR2200ac to make it very easy.
Inside the box is a straightforward Quick Installation Guide, which sets out very clearly the steps you need to follow, in order to have the Mesh Router up and running in a matter of minutes.
I plugged my new Synology MR2200ac into my existing modem/router. The Synology router quickly appeared in the (extensive) selection of possible wireless networks. Once selected, I typed the address (from the Quick Installation Guide) into my browser and launched the setup wizard.
The wizard is simple to use. My new Wi-Fi network was up and running in no time and the whole thing self-configured and self-optimised after I had made a few basic choices.
Setup can be completed over a web interface on a PC, or by using a the Synology DS Router app. I chose to use the web interface, but from my quick play with the app, it seemed like it was also a simple and effective way to get things going.
For those of you who are fortunate enough to already be using a Synology RT2600ac router, the MR2200ac can be used in conjunction with it to expand your Wi-Fi coverage over the mesh network.
Connecting devices is as simple as it is on any other wireless network. Simply select the network, input the password and away you go. If you are using multiple MR2200ac routers to create a mesh network, the process of logging on is exactly the same. The multiple routers combine to make one seamless network (I only have one router, so I cannot test this for myself. You can, however, find out more on the Synology MR2200ac website).
The MR2200ac had no trouble dealing with the multiple devices that I had connected during testing. I found that devices connected easily and I loved the added bonus of not having to choose between a 2.4GHz and a 5Ghz network. The Synology router did all the thinking for me, which is what good technology should do.
I tested the connection with my mobile. As I walked around the house, it seamlessly switched from the 2.4GHz signal to one of the two 5GHz signals (depending on my proximity to the MR2200ac). Once the connection was established, it stayed responsive and connected, no matter where I was.
The MRC2200ac has a single LAN port on the back, so you can hardwire a device if necessary. While this is handy to have, it does mean that you will need to use an additional switch if you require more than one device to connect via LAN. Probably not a big deal for most home users, but something I could have used.
Regular readers of Blog of Dad know that we live in a townhouse, which has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the main advantages is that my previous Wi-Fi covered almost the entire house. Almost.
The point that it struggled to reach is the main bedroom. Specifically, my side of the bed. I’m sure you can imagine the frustration that caused!
Thankfully, the MR2200ac reached all the way. That extra little bit of coverage can make a huge difference to one’s enjoyment of their Wi-Fi network. Of course, those of you in larger houses will appreciate the expandable coverage that is offered by creating a mesh network. Synology state that a single MR2200ac can cover up to 185 square metres, and that each additional unit adds up to an additional 185 square metres. No matter how large your home is, the Synology MR2200ac mesh router system could be the solution to achieving reliable, wall-to-wall Wi-Fi coverage.
This is where technology-related things can get a little tricky for the home user. I have had more than one router that left my head spinning when I tried to perform basic trouble-shooting in the past. Thankfully, Synology have created one of the easiest-to-navigate web interfaces that I have seen.
It looks great and makes sense. All of the information that I wanted to find was easy to locate and the data was easy to understand, thanks to beautiful graphs and visuals.
From the Synology web interface I could find out all kinds of things, like how many devices were connected, which channel they were using and how much bandwidth they were hogging. I could also set up a guest network, tweak security settings and activate family controls. It was all easy to find and easy to use.
I do have to admit to something that is slightly embarrassing right now. During the process of changing security settings, I somehow managed to completely lock myself out of the Synology MR2200ac, on all my devices. This was after all of ten minutes of use. While this incident can most definitely be filed under “user error”, I think it is important to mention, because these are the kinds of things that inexperienced users face regularly with their technology.
Once again, I was impressed with the simple systems that Synology have in place to deal with such issues. All I had to do was stick a ballpoint pen into the reset switch for ten seconds, then wait for the MR2200ac to reboot. That wiped all of my settings and allowed me to start again.
It is little things like that, that make the Synology MR2200ac such an attractive proposition for not-so-technically-minded parents.
Security should be a major concern for anyone who is purchasing a new router. With so many devices now connected, we are more exposed than ever to vulnerabilities in our network. The Synology MR2200ac supports the very latest in network security protocols (WPA3, for those who understand what it is).
This means that families can have greater confidence in the safety and robustness of their home network. WPA3 adds a whole load of security features to make the home Wi-Fi network much more secure. The link provides detailed information for anyone who wants to learn more.
Hannah is a toddler and she certainly doesn’t have unsupervised access to the internet. Yet.
The fact is, the time will come faster than I dare contemplate when she will be wanting to watch YouTube videos and interact with friends online… and whatever else kids do these days.
As a father I will want Hannah to be able to enjoy all the good things that the internet has to offer, but more than anything I will want to keep her safe.
The Safe Access tab on the Synology MR2200ac provides parents with an excellent level of control and supervision over their children’s internet access. Parents can set up individual user profiles and assign them to specific devices. Those devices can then be monitored, and parameters put in place to limit time and exposure.
From the Safe Access tab in the web interface, parents can see how long a device has been connected. They can also set internet schedules, time quotas and web filters to ensure that children are using the internet in appropriate ways.
When profiles are enabled and web filters are in place, children can request access to specific websites. This allows parents to vet them before deciding if access should be granted. It also provides great scope for negotiation and discussion.
I had a good play with the parental controls and I was extremely impressed. I used my phone as a “child” device, and played around with restricting access. It was extremely simple to set up, and extremely effective. When I had strict blocking in place, I could see every internet access request that was being made. Slightly alarmingly, in the minute that I had strict blocking on (only allowing the phone access to websites that I specified), eight requests were sent from my phone by apps. I hate to think how much information my phone must send without my knowledge on a daily basis.
This amount of control, insight and customisation is unlike anything I have experienced from a home router before. As with everything on the Synology MR2200ac, it is so simple to use, and so effective!
The Synology MR2200ac is a brilliant Wi-Fi router in its own right. It is powerful and fully-featured enough to keep technology experts happy, but user-friendly enough to allow the average parent user to understand and successfully use it. The ability to use multiple MR2200ac units in a mesh configuration and cutting-edge security protocols make it ideal for families who require a secure, reliable and powerful Wi-Fi network throughout their entire house.