NETGEAR Insight Access Points Review

The Insight management tool lets you build a complex network even with limited formal knowledge

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use NETGEAR for home and office to allow internal network sharing among devices and people. It really is the backbone of the entire network. There is no need for servers or for other equipment beyond what we know is registered in the inside portal. As such, we just get a feed from our ISP and it goes directly into the access points. That's it.

The population for our use case is pretty small. While there are three or four employees who utilize the Insight access points concurrently, there are many more who make use of it throughout the day.

How has it helped my organization?

When it comes to remediation, we have rid ourselves of downtime. The metrics demonstrate that NETGEAR really does a good job of balancing the load between the various access points on the network and this results in an elimination of downtime. While a device may conceivably fail in respects to an access point that is in a different room or in a different part of the facility, there have been no instances in which we've been down without internet or network access. Prior to using the Insight access points, this was an issue every other week. 

I am also impressed by the speed and the feature range. It has allowed us to venture beyond the confines of the standard office space. 

Moreover, it is critical that the Insight Management solution saves us from needing to utilize additional cloud controller appliances, network managers, PC servers or to configure and manage our access points. Were this not the case, we would be left with the option of using home grade equipment. This would simply be too complex and require more maintenance than would be feasible for a business of our size.

Also, I use the Insight Management app on my phone. We occasionally utilize the internet portal for more complex concerns, although 99 percent of what I do is on the iPhone app. I am actually looking at it right now on YouTube. It's just great. It provides real-time changes, with real-time monitoring of what's happening and what needs to be changed. It's the way to go for sure.

Additionally, the solution provides live updates on network status and alerts us when there's an issue. Real time alerts are delivered via email and push alerts. We get emails whenever there's an issue on one of the access points on the network.

What is most valuable?

The configuration and monitoring have been very valuable features. When it comes to the pain points, the ability to monitor and address these is one of the best perks of the app. Setup becomes a breeze once you pass this stage. We only need to scan in a QR code for things to basically be set up.

Insight Management is extremely user-friendly and very relevant with the details that it gives. I'm not a trained IT person, but the layout of Insight or the capabilities of the Insight management tool have allowed us to build a pretty complex network with little formal knowledge on the topic, absent the need to conduct some internet research and follow the prompts.

Moreover, we can manage our entire network from anywhere in the world. This is important because there's no one else to do it. If something goes down or is not working, it's good to have the resources to know what the problem is and to have the ability to rectify it remotely. Since we don't have the onsite resources for engaging the services of IT people or consultants, the ability to be in command of the network and the access points from anywhere we wish is pretty valuable to us.

Furthermore, the throughput speeds are excellent. World-class throughput speeds with the WiFi Six is what we're using in all of our devices.

My impression of the user interface of the top tier version that we licensed is that it's very friendly, informative, and relevant. It has what we need to see and it's easy to access, maintain and monitor.

What needs improvement?

While the data throughput does provide us with full insight into data being used, we find that it's not very accurate. The numbers are just way off. I have already brought this up with NETGEAR Insight Access Points. As for the Insight portal and the Insight app, meaning the part of the app that allows you to see which clients are connected to the access points and how they're connected, these do not work at all. Although our main WiFi network has 50 devices on it, when we enter the app on the website it shows it to be zero.

When it comes to features needing improvement, the WAX610, WAC540 and the WAX610Y do not reliably stay online and this is especially true of the WAC540. This is why we have defaulted most of our traffic over to the SXR80 device, which is the company's newest and most innovative WiFi Six product. 

However, it has been months since the Insight app has acknowledged that there are access points connected to it. Unplugging and replugging it would only enable it to work for around fifteen minutes. It is constantly offline. Meanwhile, the 610s, which are simply the normal Insights, are terribly slow for WiFi six. As such, my praise for the Insight access points really must go to the SXR80 product. It has been phenomenal in every case.

I have four of the newer devices sitting under my desk right now. They plan to unplug the 610s. Since these are only three or four months older than the new SXR80s that have been introduced, I'm a bit disappointed that they're not as reliable and as fast as they should be. Fortunately, since we possess the proper tools and technological resources, we have mostly not been impacted by this. This is because we rely on the main SXR80 access points to a greater extent than those other access points and we consider these to be reliable and great to work with.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for at least a couple of years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability and its potential is great. One can segregate different WiFi networks so that they can simply access other things on the network. If I had the time, I would play around with it more and do such things as captive portals for guest networks, and make things more fancy. I feel confident in my abilities to do all kinds of things with relative ease, such as being able to segregate different WiFi networks so that they can simply access other things on the network.

As for usage, we are unlikely to make increases. While I know this to be possible, as we have the infrastructure in place with the access points for the connectivity of thousands of devices, we have no expectation of doing so. I do know it's possible, though. 

When it came to deciding which route to take, we felt the scalability to be important, as it started with just one access point and then it grew to switches, then to multiple access points and then to Power over Ethernet devices, etc. Therefore, I consider this an important point, even though I don't foresee short term growth.

Moreover, I would say that it's worth spending a little bit more on these products. They provide future-proofing and enable scaling and perpetuation of its use as the network demands increase in pace with technological considerations.

How are customer service and technical support?

Occasionally, I have made use of technical support, although the only time I talked to them directly concerned a switch, not an access point. More recently, I did send them an email about the issues I'm having with the model numbers I mentioned. This was two or three weeks ago. They told me someone, an engineer, would get back to me and this has yet to happen. I simply don't have the time to chase after them right now. 

Generally speaking, the solution is a good thing. It's money well spent. It's worked out well for us. I think it will continue to work out well for us. I just wish that, in light of what we're paying for ongoing licensing fees, the engineers or tech support were a little bit more accessible. For example, I told you that I emailed tech support two or three weeks ago. When I went into the app to create that ticket, all the devices that I had concerns with were still under warranty with a next business day replacement. Yet, for some reason, the phone and email support options had expired. I don't understand how one can troubleshoot and exchange a unit when tech support remains inaccessible. It was only when I clicked on one of the newer solutions that they responded to me. I explained that it was not the one giving me trouble, but that I felt I had no other means of getting in touch with them. 

I'm sure I could have spent an hour on the phone pressing prompts to speak with somebody, but email was the route we took. I would say there are positives and negatives. Yet, overall, I can't think of a better solution out there that would be without pitfalls. Like I said, I'm pretty happy with it.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Before using Insight access points we were using ones which are more basic and home grade. 

We switched because of the features, the scalability and the speed. A regular NETGEAR, spaceship-looking access point can cost a lot. However, after only a year or two it can give out and become slower and incapable of handling the number of devices we have. What I mean by devices are actual things connected to the network, not people. There are 150 things connected to these access points, but there are only a few of us using them here.

These devices include phones, computers, printers, smart devices such as TVs, and Amazon solution features. There exist many of what you would refer to as smart or automation-types of equipment. They comprise a significant portion of these devices and are connected to the access points. However, these are features that we're not using on a daily basis, even as they consume resources.

This is why we need something more robust and scalable, so that it can manage and sustainably carry that type of load. We don't deem these criteria to be met with the other solutions.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of the Insight access points did not require us to have any special expertise or knowledge and there was no need to bring in somebody from the outside.

It took us a single afternoon to do the initial deployment.

Our implementation strategy involved us making use of adequate coverage with our requisite speeds. This was simply the strategy that was involved in the placement and purchase of the different devices. We did not make use of a third party integrator or consultant for this undertaking and I handled the deployment independently.

What was our ROI?

While I haven't made exact calculations, I feel that our ROI accrues to the elimination of downtime and the lack of necessity to hire someone external to build and maintain the network. Since we do not consider downtime to be an option, I find it difficult to quantify our exact savings. To properly address this issue I would first need a more detailed understanding of the disparity in licensing costs between our next best solution, Cisco, and the one we chose. I think that the money that we've put into the access points and that which we are investing in licensing them on the portal is well spent.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The yearly pricing is reasonable. For what you get, the price of Insight access points is very reasonable. I don't feel like there is anything cost prohibitive or difficult to operate or use. Overall, I am impressed with the Insight portal and how it works and maintains itself, as well as with its scalability. 

My only concern is that our costs will increase with continued use of the product, since they license us annually. This will probably result in some of the less reliable devices being taken offline. Should we not see satisfactory delivery, we will deem it not worthwhile for us to pay the ongoing fees. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I did not evaluate other options prior to choosing NETGEAR. I did a lot of research before going this route. It was the cloud aspect of Insight and the fact that it didn't need to be managed on site with servers that sold me on the product. 

Nevertheless, the insufficiently reliable access points made me have second thoughts. However, once we got into the situation with the current setup, it's just been outstanding. Even when it comes to those devices that aren't functioning as well as I would like, the cloud capabilities make it easy to do troubleshooting and get them back on line. I find this to be the case even though it is not what I wish to be doing with my time.

As far as Cisco Meraki or Ubiquiti access points go, I did research Cisco a little bit online. I didn't undertake anything in person. However, I found it to be much too complex for the building and expanding of the basic infrastructure that we require. Plus, the licensing fees made it unrealistic and cost prohibitive.

Furthermore, a key factor in my decision to go with NETGEAR over Meraki was the lack of need to spin up a controller. The fact that it is cloud-based played an equally important factor in this decision. 

What other advice do I have?

We are making use of three WAX610s, one of each of WAC540 and WAX610Y, and five SXR80.

I handle maintenance on my own and this is not a full time job. It's pretty straightforward and this is especially so as the units we have in place are up 100 percent of the time and are lightning fast.

The biggest lesson that I've learned from using the Insight access points is that there is no need for expertise. A master's degree and networking for their use is not required to put together a complex network for meeting one's needs. What we've got going here is pretty complex. As it turns out, it's been built up piece by piece, in a way that doesn't require much technical knowledge.

My advice to someone who is evaluating and thinking of implementing the Insight access points is that it has limitless uses. The solution can be as simple or complex as one wants. We started simple and built it up to be somewhat complex and that has worked out pretty well for us. 

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

WAX610, WAC540, SXR80
**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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