Reliable Wi-Fi is what a lot of us have come to expect in today’s world of hyper-connectivity. I don’t know about you, but my roommates and I just went with whatever router Comcast gave us. That was a rookie move because it only reliably works in one room (the room with the router) out of five.
Enter Portal, a gigabit Wi-Fi router that aims to solve the problem of congested Wi-Fi networks. It does this by providing access to what the company describes as an internet “fast lane,” providing up to five times more wireless capacity than a standard consumer router. In crowded settings, Portal says it performs up to 300 times faster than a standard consumer router and delivers three times lower latency.
Most routers only work on two channels of the 5GHz spectrum. What’s notable about Portal is that it works on all six. By design, Portal knows when to switch between the different 5Ghz channels if one particular channel starts getting too crowded.
I’ve been testing out Portal in my 3-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. My thoughts: Ooh. Wee. Both the range and the speed of my Wi-Fi has significantly improved. I can now access the internet from my bedroom and all other areas of my apartment with just the one Portal. Check it.
Portal is also super, super simple to set up. I felt kind of intimidated by the thought of having to set up a Wi-Fi router, but it took no longer than seven minutes from the time I opened the box to the time I started browsing the web on my Portal-enabled Wi-Fi network.
Portal, which retails for $199, isn’t the first Silicon Valley startup to tackle Wi-Fi. Eero, for example, is a wireless routing system that promises zero buffering and no dead zones. Depending on the size of your space, you could get one eero for $199 or a 3-pack for $499, which eero says is “perfect for most homes.”
Then there’s Luma, which operates more in the realm of eero, which suggests buying multiple devices for maximum coverage. To be clear, Portal does let you connect multiple devices to create a “mesh network” — that’s just not what it prides itself on.
Portal, created by a team of former Qualcomm engineers, previously raised $797,862 via Kickstarter. Eero, on the other hand, has raised $90 million in venture funding, while Luma has raised $22 million.