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[Review] Cambium cnPilot E400 Managed Access Point

Cambium cnPilot E400 Wireless Access Point 1
Cambium cnPilot E400

The Cambium cnPilot E400 is a wireless access point for connectivity to the network and then on to the internet. It supports both 2.4G and 5G 802.11ac concurrent dual band WiFi, has 2×2 MIMO, 16 SSIDs with 256 concurrent users and more. It is also one of the few wireless access points which don’t require a separate on-site controller in order to be used with Cambium’s cloud management portal.

Cambium E400 Wireless Access Point 4

Unboxing the Cambium cnPilot E400 access point revealed a nice smooth white device. There is a safety sticker on the access point, and having read the Geekzone forums on the E400, it used to be a pain to get off. Cambium did acknowledge this and has been noted for future batches of devices. Mine did take a bit of time to get off, but it came off in the end.

Cambium E400 Wireless Access Point 2

Setting up the Cambium cnPilot E400 access point is pretty straight forward if you already have a network running (which most of you probably already do). An access point is to provide better if not faster WiFi speeds and greater coverage (up to 180m range for the E400) than the average WiFi router in the office. Just like the Ubiquiti UniFi AP-AC-EDU device, these are more for enterprise users, but home users looking for improved coverage and WiFi speeds in their house can easily grab one of these and set them up too. Simply plug in the PoE Injector’s power, plug in the relevant ethernet cables (one from the router/switch to the PoE port mentioning LAN, and one from the AP to the port labelled PoE) and place the AP in a central location for the best coverage possible. And placing it somewhere on the ceiling would be beneficial too. For larger installations, a network engineer would be beneficial.

Cambium E400 Wireless Access Point 3

As mentioned before this Cambium cnPilot E400 access point supports PoE. It can be powered via the 802.3af injector or through a powered ethernet switch.

cnMaestro Dashboard Onboard Devices

Cambium’s cloud-based management portal is called cnMaestro. Cambium also offer on-premises controllers however my preference is currently cloud-based. Of course this can depend on the environment it’s being used in as larger infrastructure installs may see the on-premises controller a lot more appealing. Cambium also boast about their zero-touch onboarding of APs so all you have to do to claim them is to log in to cnMaestro and find your device in the list of APs to be onboarded.

cnMaestro Dashboard
cnMaestro Dashboard
cnMaestro Dashboard Enterprise WiFi Settings
Template for WPA2-Enterprise WiFi Settings.

cnMaestro pretty much gives you everything you see on the actual cnPilot E400 AP and every other supported AP. For large installations with many access points scattered around the building, the cloud controller lets you easily monitor and configure all access points in one go instead of having to connect to every single AP and then configure it. An on-premises controller pretty much does the same thing with the added benefit of knowing that that info is in the same building as you possibly are. The layout is a bit different between each E400’s software and cnMaestro which makes for a bit of confusion at first when setting up. Once you get used to it, you can easily create templates for new WLANs, WiFi policies etc.

cnMaestro Dashboard Guest Portal
Example of the cnMaestro Cloud Managed Guest Portal Settings.

The Cambium cnPilot E400 access point has features including autonomous mode which means it is capable of operating by itself when connection to the cloud controller is lost, guest captive portal creation, scheduled SSID to turn on/off the AP at specified times, data throttling so you can control how fast each SSID is allowed, client isolation to prevent users from connecting to each other (good for public networks, bad for private networks as you wouldn’t be able to use the Chromecast without additional settings etc.), fast roaming between APs in a large building, band-steering feature to steer capable devices on to the higher throughput 5G network, a NAT, DHCP and Firewall. The last three features will be most likely operated by the router in your network, so no need to turn those on if that is the case.

Some of you may be wondering how I am testing the cnPilot E400 Access Point when I just reviewed the Ubiquiti UniFi Network Package. Well I have temporarily stopped using that setup and have gone back to my old setup with the Netgear DGND3700 Modem/Router (which has been running for a few years now and is even fibre-ready) and connected the E400 AP to that.

Cambium E400 Wireless Access Point 5
UniFi AC Pro next to the Cambium cnPilot E400.

A quick comparison with cnMaestro and the UniFi Cloud Controller, I have to say I am leaning a bit more towards the UniFi Cloud system because of a more easy-to-use/understand/configure system. All the stats, the settings are all easily found whereas the cnMaestro platform doesn’t offer as many features on its GUI such as Deep Packet Inspection. The UI on the UniFi Cloud Controller just looks a lot more user-friendly and configurable in my opinion, but the cnMaestro controller has all the configuration basics of WiFi sorted. Oh did I mention it also lets you monetize your WiFi by adding an option to integrate with 3rd party external guest access solutions?

WiFi Speed Test on Cambium E400
WiFi Speed Test on Cambium cnPilot E400 from about 200m away from the Access Point through three walls – Router says my Downstream Link Rate is 6095Kbps and 960Kbps Up. Not bad!

WiFi coverage and speeds have certainly improved since using the Cambium cnPilot E400 Access Point instead of my Netgear router’s wireless. I can now get coverage from that back corner of the house, where it would used to be pretty iffy there!

For more information, please visit: https://www.gowifi.co.nz/wireless/cnc000100w404a.html

These goodies are priced around $300NZD.