After struggling with Wi-Fi performance issues—including distance, obstacles, and a big increase in high demand connected devices—I pulled out the big guns and installed a Linksys Max-Stream EA 9500 router a few months back. You can read the review here if you’re interested in the impact a high power router can have. This post isn’t about that router, though, it’s about a review unit that arrived from Kasda.
My thoughts exactly. Never heard of them, although the Chinese networking company has been around since 2001 and focused on home networking products since 2006.
The Kasda Transformer KA1900 is a dual-band, 802.11ac router with 1300Mbps 5GHz throughput combined with 600 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. The specs are good, but not exactly earth shattering—the EA 9500 is a tri-band router pushing through up to 5.3 Gbps of data and blasting the signal through eight high-powered external antennas—but then again the EA 9500 usually goes for $400 while the Transformer KA1900 is currently available on Amazon for $110.
Kasda Transformer KA1900 First Impressions and Setup
The Transformer KA1900 is a very compact, upright blade of glossy black plastic. Ports (WAN, four Gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0) are on the back along with a power switch. Indicator lights (blue LED) are across the front face.
This thing is a fingerprint magnet and it is crazy light. Kasda’s specs list it at 1.32 pounds. No way; it felt much lighter than that. I put it on my kitchen scale and it came up with 14.6 ounces, which is more like it. Maybe with the power adapter, it tops a pound… The EA 9500 weighs nearly four pounds.
It’s also tiny in comparison. Its six antennas are internal, so nothing juts out other than the power and network cables at the back. Besides being physically a fraction of the size of my current router, the upright form factor means the Transformer KA1900 has a footprint of roughly 10 x 2.5-inches.
Routers from the big networking companies like Linksys and D-Link have spoiled us with app-based configuration. With the Transformer KA1900, you’ll have to fire up your web browser, but setup is still pretty straightforward. Kasda’s browser-based management tools may not be as pretty as others, but they offer a surprising degree of functionality. Features like QoS prioritization and parental controls are there, but so are arcane details like the dual-core CPU’s current temperature and available RAM. Tinkerers should love this.
The Big Question: Does it Perform?
Despite its bargain price tag, the Kasda Transformer KA1900 incorporates features like MIMO and beam forming. There’s a dual-core CPU with 256MB of RAM and 128MB of flash storage. A full range of security options is offered, including VPN support, guest network, DoS protection, SPI and NAT firewalls, and Wi-Fi protected access (WEP/WPA/WPA2, WPA/WPA2-PSK).
Does it perform? Well, the Kasda Transformer KA1900 completely blows my previous router—Apple’s now discontinued Airport Extreme—out of the water both on speed and range. With low network traffic, it even managed to nearly match the speeds the Linksys Max-Stream EA 9500 hits in my office. My workspace is a Wi-Fi nightmare, on a different floor and opposite side of the house compared to my router location, with a brick chimney and glass door between them. Despite those obstacles (and its lack of external antennas), I was sometimes able to hit internet download speeds of 140 Mbps in my office with the Transformer KA1900.
I also got a full 4-bars of Wi-Fi on my iPhone from my grilling station about 50 feet into the back yard.
1080p video streams throughout the house were smooth (I don’t currently have any gear that supports 4K video), as was online gaming. When the kids are home and all the devices start firing up simultaneously, the Transformer KA1900 couldn’t maintain the same speeds that the EA 9500 does, but also never reached the point where people were getting kicked off the network or videos were stopping to cache.
Should you buy it?
If your home Wi-Fi needs are extreme, you’re probably better off sticking with a high power router like the Linksys Max-Stream EA 9500—or maybe checking into a mesh system. You’ll also be better off sticking with the big names if you want niceties like app-based network management.
But if you’re not stuck on name brands and want one of the best wireless performance to price ratios I’ve seen, the Kasda Transformer KA1900 is worth considering.
Disclosure: Kasda provided a router for review purposes.