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Pros: PLEASE NOTE: At the bottom of both "Pros" and "Cons" are additional information that I wanted to include in the review that really I wanted to have in the "Other Thoughts" section but had to room. Just an FYI.
+ quick setup
+ easy to use admin panel
+ IPv6, Bonjour, SMTP, SNMP, WSD and RAW/LPD protocol support
+ prints fast!
+ e-mail notification support for specific triggers
+ Can enabled/disable wireless AP and wireless hotspot AP
+ Can see printer status from admin panel
+ Mobile printing
+ WiFi connectivity
+ Mac and Linux support
+ 1200 x 1200 dpi
+ Prints up to 22 ppm (pages per minute) for A4 and 23 ppm for Letter
+ Compact size
+ Sleep mode (can change the amount of time it will go into sleep mode via the admin panel)
THE PRINTER AND TONER CARTRIDGE
The printer itself is very compact in size, MUCH smaller than my Canon InkJet All-in-One printer and lightweight. A starter toner is included with the printer (Pantum PB-210 Toner (standard capacity: 1,600 pages for those interested)) but came in separate packages; even though the printer box said to "ensure the following parts are included in the box" showing a toner cartridge - safe to assume a starter toner is include with the purchase of this printer huh? As with any toner cartridge installation can be messy so be careful. Installation however is very easy - just follow the instructions on the toner cartridge box.
The printer itself has a very simple interactive interface while having quite the interesting LED indicators. There may be only 2 LED lights (one for paper jam and WiFi connectivity and the other for alerts and info) each refer to something specific on their own and also something else based on which one is lit/flashing, its color, etc.; which is detailed in the digital user manual found by clicking on User Manual link upon auto-loading the included CD - troubleshooting section.
Cons: - Makes no mention that an admin panel exists in the included paper user manual or setup guide which is very important to know! - it's buried in the digital user manual located on the included CD
- Forced to keep "Pantum-AP" in the wireless hotspot SSID
- Not allowed to change the username from the default "admin"
- Manual duplex printing - I would prefer to save paper and would be nice if it was automatic
- Can't change printing preferences from within the mobile app (locked-in at 240 x 320 DPI as per the digital user manual, section 6.1)
PRINTER WIRELESS ADMIN PANEL
There is an admin page that is not readily mentioned anywhere but is buried in the digital user manual under section 4.1. However, once you have installed the printer driver connect via the included CD from a wireless device to the Pantum wireless hotspot AP (I couldn't connect without being connected to the wireless hotspot). After that you can access it via "192.168.223.1" in your browser (may be different than mine). There is a "Log In" menu item which you should immediately change the password (log in and it's under "Admin Settings"). The username is "admin" and the password, by default, is "000000". Once done you can explore the "Settings" menu item for the various bits of information and settings that can be tweaked. You can secure the wireless hotspot AP by going to Settings -> Wireless Settings -> Wireless Hotspot -> Wireless Parameter -> Authentication. Click "Apply" when done and viola! Secured.
Even though you can turn wireless hotspot off I personally recommend leaving it on and securing your wireless hotspot because as far as I can tell from what I have tested the admin panel is only accessible wconnected to the hotspot.
You can set up automatic email notifications for when specific situations occur (under Settings -> Machinery Settings -> E-mail Notification); paper tray is empty, toner is low, paper is jammed or catridge has expired. You can specify up to 4 email addresses.
In the admin panel under "Information" menu you can view various bits of information such as toner remaining, printer status (ex/ sleeping), cartridge status (ex/ normal), serial number, etc.
Also, I recommend setting up a static IP for the printer instead of using DHCP or "IPv4 'automatic' address assigment" by changing it to "manual". If you have a router that is capable of IP route reservations then you can assign it there instead; I personally prefer assigning static IPs from my router as all IP reservations are in one place. When your router decides to lease the printer a new IP address it may require that you have to setup the printer again for printing. So for example, when I look at the Pantum P2500W Series Properties -> Ports (tab) on my computer the printer was set up specific to IP address 192.168.0.102. When the IP changes the printer most likely won't be available for printing...just a potential warning.
Other Thoughts: PRINT TESTING
By default the printer is set up to print at 600 dpi which will look great (subjective and depends on what you are printing) but is capable of printing at 1200. As with any printer already set up on your computer you can access printing preferences via the Windows Control Panel -> Hardware and Sound -> Devices and Printers -> Pantum P2200-P2500 Series, right click with the mouse and select "Printing preferences" (sorry Mac users I don't have a Mac but you can refer to section 3.2 of the digital user guide included on the CD). You will see the group box named "Resolution" with the options for 600 or 1200 DPI. If you want the "best" quality prints and not concerned with using more 'ink' then select 1200 and click the "OK" button. NOTE: You can also get access to said settings by simply double-clicking on the Pantum printer instead of right-clicking and selecting "printing preferences". Once in the Pantum printer 'page' select "Adjust print options".
Printing actual pages takes a few seconds per page - extremely faster than a typical inkjet printer. The print quality is pretty good at 600. I set my printer preference resolution to 1200 and printed a large photo which turned out pretty darn good! You can expect professional I must say but I expected such as the specification of the printer is that it prints at 22 ppm. The printed image greyscales showed a wide range of shades with acceptible level of detail.
As for the printing noise I can't measure it exactly but it is right up there with my 2 year old inkjet printer.
On several occassions once a page was printed I would quickly take the printed page and rub across it vigorously with my finger which didn't result in any smearing or toner residue on my finger; this was the same for both printed text documents and pictures. I tried wetting my finger and rubbing the printed page and experienced no smears as well.
Printing from my Samsung S5 using the "Mobile Printing App" the prints, both text documents and images, defintely lack print quality compared to printing from my laptop (limited to prints of 240 x 320 DPI as per digital user manual section 6.1). Honestly, being able to print from my phone is a major plus.
This printer performs very well for its price-range and is competitive to other laser printers out there. The prints of both documents and pictures are definitely suitable for the typical user who aren't looking for or expecting professional prints (the prints are still very good). The admin panel availability is obscured without digging into the digital user manual as one reviewer apparently missed. The printer appears to be well built but the software could be better. However, I do recommend this printer if you do a lot of black-and-white prints and want a reliable printer. I do recommend secure
Pros: + Fast! When I was able to navigate the admin panel in particular it was very responsive
+ 6' flat Ethernet cable. Convenient for running under doors and carpet (cable is unmarked so no idea for sure if it is a CAT 5, 7, 4, 1, etc. /sarcasm)
+ Very intuitive admin panel UI! Very organized and well structured
+ Presented with basic router setup wizard upon 'first' logging into the admin panel. Nice touch
+ Has 'normal' AC adapter plug and is not a massive wall-wart (outlet plug is on the 'brick') restricting other outlet space (think surge protector). In non-technical jargon, the 'brick' is located smack-dab in-the-middle of the long power cable
+ Firmware based on DD-WRT - packed with features!!! :)
+ Supports 802.11ac
+ Rated for speeds up to 1750, total (just think of as faster than normal/high-end)
+ optional, attachable legs that can be used to position router vertical or horizontal (while keeping router body directly off the surface and better cooling)
Cons: - Suffers from some serious firmware and stability issues*** (See "Cons" footer below first)
- Spelling errors in admin panel (ex/ "wireles" in setup wizard)
***Because I have much to say I need to start here then continue into "Other thoughts" because of each sections' character limit.
(NOTE: After I started experiencing issues I began to keep a log of all my troubleshooting steps, not only is it helpful in reviews but also having such details for customer support...here is how it went down).
I upackaged the AirStation router, attached the optional stand-support so I can place the router vertically, attached both power and "Internet" cables and viola...notta. The wireless radios and AP/Bridge mode lit up (lit up = AP mode, not lit = bridge) its colorful blue color but "Internet" failed to light. I power cycled the router...nothing. I power cycled the modem to clear the MAC store and 'register' the router again...nothing. I factory reset the router...nothing. Mind you during this whole time I couldn't even access the administrative panel (fyi: you don't need "Internet" to do this). I performed the thorough 30/30/30 factory reset technique (going all out this time: push and hold reset for 30 seconds, while still pushing reset unplug router for 30 seconds. Again, while holding reset button plug router back in and wait 30 seconds - for those who don't know)...nothing. I disconnected both modem and router, connected modem until it finished 'loading' and then plugged in the router...nothing. I detached the flat Ethernet cable supplied with the router by Buffalo and using a traditional rounded CAT 6 cable between the modem and router without turning off either device...SUCCESS! Could access the Internet and admin panel. What the?! Could it be the cable is bad? At this point I left it alone and went straight into the admin panel. I navigated around the controls to get a feel for what was available. I changed the VLAN wireless SSIDs from default as well as the passwords to both. Applied settings. I saw that the TCP congestion-avoidance algorithm was defaulted to "vegas" (apparently a DD-WRT thing) so for better efficiency I changed it to "westwood" and chose to apply settings. After a few seconds I got an error message of an 'empty response' (sorry but I don't remember the error message exactly that came after it). Any additional attempts to access the admin panel was met with messages that Buffalo's router access defaults of 192.168.11.1 couldn't be found. I proceeded to power cycle the router and now I was back to not having WAN or LAN access. I switched back to Buffalo's flat Ethernet cable and re-cycled the router...nothing. I factory reset the router performing the 30/30/30 method and I could get Internet but could not access the admin panel.
(Please continue reading in "Other thoughts")
Other Thoughts: (Write-up below is a continuation from "Cons" section's footer)
I decided to start fresh; power down both modem and router, turn modem on then once finished 'booting' turn router on. After performing this steps I could get Internet but could not access the admin panel still. I power-cycled the router again and I could access both the Internet and admin panel. I proceeded to check if there was a firmware update and there was; to update OpenSSL. Knowing that this most likely wouldn't fix my issue I proceeded to update the firmware since another reviewer indicated boot issues after a firmware update. Once the router finished doing its thing it booted back up and I had no Internet and no admin access...AGAIN! I tried a faculty reset again...nothing. I even tried releasing and renewing the IP lease...nothing. I tried 'refreshing' again by power down modem and router then turn them back on again...nothing. I performed the 30/30/30 factory reset again, powered off modem then powered back on along with the router before I finally released the reset button on my last '30' and still nothing. At this point I had spent a good chunk of my evening and I could see the vicious cycle continuing to repeat itself. I was even going to compromise and say "Hey, if I get Internet access again I won't change a setting and I will perform a range/bandwidth test!" - but now I can't even get to that point. I couldn't connect via Telnet and SSH (I don't even know if they are enabled by default as I didn't get that far sadly). I decided that I would consider this a lost cause and publish my review as-is. Needless to say I unplugged my modem so I could use my previous router and upon boot I was good-to-go - no surprise there.
This is the first Buffalo router I have ever owned. I have heard a lot about Buffalo over the years, good things, and I was extremely excited to review Buffalo's high-end consumer router. Unfortunately while I was still able to technically review this product it was not of a positive experience being nothing but a big headache and a huge let-down. I searched the Web to see if others were experiencing similar issues and nothing jumped out at me so I'm wondering if I'm so lucky to be in an isolated group suffering from such issues? In any case, first impressions in general are usually very important and this router did not impress me. Hopefully this is simply a firmware issue and a firmware patch will rectify this router's issues.
Pros: + The router is of version 2.0 with latest firmware (3.13.34 Build 131217 Rel.60903n) as of 5/6/14
+ Supports 802.11ac as well as 802.11a/b/g/n
+ Router is noteably faster than those I have dealt with in the past. Router reboots are fast and the administrative UI is also very responsive.
+ Guest network (off by default which is nice) control is pretty fair in terms of what controls are available with stock firmware; bandwidth, access scheduling/timeouts for allowing and disallowing connections, etc.
+ USB, storage and media server is off by default
+ Upon turning the router on both wireless bands were password protected which is great manufacture practice IMO for the average Joe...Kudos!
+ Stock firmware allows for also changing the username along with the password. Many routers I have dealt with will only allow for changing the password
+ There is a sticker detailing the necessity for users to read the Setup Guide prior to installation - can't take off the bag on the router without seeing this. Good for the average Joe.
+ Three choices for built-in dynamic DNS; DynDNS (no longer offering "free" FYI), No-IP, and Comexe.cn
+ IPv6 support (pretty typical now with newer routers)
+ Email setup available for auto-emailing based on specific logging types
+ Diagnostic 'ping' and 'traceroute' available for checking network connections
+ Due to natural 5Ghz range limitations such utilizes the 3 external antennae while the 2.4Ghz utilizes the 3 internal antennae
+ Ability to control specific devices or hosts to access rules. Ex/ prevent a device on the network from access www.facebook.com
+ Control help/descriptions are better written in English than earlier TP-Link routers I have had in the past - still some grammatical errors but not as bad as before. Also provide good configuration examples on how to use certain sections! Thanks for that!
+ Adequate parental controls
Cons: - Router suffers from gradual speed degradation and WiFi dropouts after about 1 week of up-time; both particularly experienced on the 5Ghz band). Very disappointing. ***Please read "Cons" footnote for details***
- Inconvenience to have to go to TP-Link support site to search-for and download firmware updates. Would be nice if could get latest firmware from the administrative control panel itself like other routers
- QoS UI is not an intuitive as other routers I have used in the past. Some offer presets to commonly used applications/games which is great without trying to figure out for example all the specific port ranges and protocols for each game when latency-sensitive FPS gaming can sometimes be problematic of other users on the network who stream high-definition content; this is without having to restrict their bandwidth across-the-board.
- This appears to be TP-Links highest consumer wireless router yet in comparison to other high-end routers this still uses USB 2.0
- All front LED lights are of the same color - green. While supporting the TP-Link logo color it doesn't help identify wired connections based on 10/100 speed/duplex connections. I forced my wired connection to 100 full duplex and the LED color didn't change to the standard color of orange. Sometimes my server has network configuration issues where it would negotiate at 100 full duplex which would be easily identifiable by the connection LED on the router. Not really an "issue" but just something I noticed. They obviously don't follow the "standard"
***Speed degradation and WiFi dropouts: I will use my phone for the example which connects to the 5Ghz (ac) band. I logged my signal strength and connection speed (a.k.a "Link Speed") after 1 hour of up-time (using "Network Signal Pro" (version 2.70.06) Android app); strength ~40dBm and speed ~866Mbps. After day 2 the signal strength was averaging the same but I couldn't connect more than ~500Mbps. On day 7 my connection speed was ~242Mbps - rebooting phone had no effect with an immediate connection speed of 242Mbps; naturally this means that my download speeds are degraded - I couldn't download faster (via Speedtest.net app) than ~22Mbps. I turned the router off for 1 minute then turned back on, phone eventually connected and connection speed has been stable at 866Mbps for the last hour and downloading at near 40Mbps. I haven't tested to see if such degradation affects the 2.4Ghz radio but this is just something I noticed with my phone in particular since it is the only thing in my house that will connect via 802.11ac and something that I use constantly so I'm more apt to notice. Also worth mentioning, my phone has experienced several WiFi dropouts which I did not experience on my old router nor do I experience at work.
Other Thoughts: Benchmark testing was done using the website "speedtest.net" for the laptop and the speedtest.net mobile app for my phone. All speed numbers are represented in Mbps and the 2.4Ghz results are on the left-hand side and the 5Ghz (either "n" or "ac") on the right (apologies in advance if the formatting gets messed up but I'm running out of available characters allowed to type for this section) all separated with the "pipe" ("|"). Also, "D" = Download and "U" = Upload. The router is located in the basement, the kitchen is located upstairs and 1 room away which is about 15' away from the router, the bedroom is located 2 floors adjacent from the room with the router which is about 20' away, the living room is located upstairs 1 floor and 2 rooms away which is about 25', the bathroom is upstairs and 2 rooms away which is about 25' I would say.
HP ELITE BOOK
Kitchen - 2.4Ghz | 5Ghz (n)
D: 53.78 | D: 54.70
U: 5.65 | U: 5.77
D: 39.66 | D: 49.43
U: 5.73 | U: 5.79
D: 46.06 | D: 27.87
U: 5.60 | U: 5.65
D: 41.38 | D: 27.87
U: 5.79 | U: 5.64
SAMSUNG GALAXY S5
Kitchen - 2.4Ghz | 5Ghz (ac)
D: 35.96 | D: 22.67
U: 6.17 | U: 5.89
D: 31.65 | D: 13.06
U: 6.48 | U: 5.40
D: 40.32 | D: 13.52
U: 6.58 | U: 5.12
D: 33.45 | D: 48.80
U: 6.62 | U: 5.57
The signal range as a whole for this router is quite impressive! I walked about 100 yards away from my house and I was still getting good signal. Specifically, at about 50 yards on 5Ghz (ac) was getting 24.10 down and 6.85 up, about 100 yards away was 15.33 down and 6.67 up. At 50 yards on 2.4Ghz I saw 37.33 down and 6.85 up, 100 yards I got 18.90 down and 6.11 up. However, while I still averaged around 88 dBm between 50 and 100 yards from my house dropouts were present but not overly consistent. This puts this router in terms of range and performance the best router I have ever owned/reviewed (sorry but I can't list them here). The outer walls of my house are 1.5 feet deep of cement and the router is located essentially under-ground - very impressed.
IN A SHORT AND SWEET SUMMARY, I do like everything about this router - including the fact that I will be able to mount it to my wall. However, I'm disappointed by the WiFi degradation and WiFi drops after 1 week of use (as of writing this section girlfriend notified me that her iPhone 5 experienced several WiFi drops while using FaceTime just today - Day 7 of owning this router and to reiterate the router had an up-time of 1 week as well - so my Samsung is not alone). Hopefully this is something that isn't hardware related like v1 and something that can be fixed via firmware upgrade/patch.