My Teleport Review: Mostly Good, But Some Downfalls

  • I’ve been using this device exclusively on my latest business trip in various hotels (some with guest logon pages, others where you directly connect, some with Ethernet connections, others that are WiFi only). I should give some background on myself first. I’m an IT professional with 17 years of experience as a software engineer, currently working as a Solutions Architect for one of the largest FinTech firms in the country. I know my way around technology pretty well.

    I use the Teleport to connect to my home network which is a Windows domain with 2 onsite domain controllers that run DNS and DHCP for my entire home network, which consists of 25 devices. I run an AD Federation Server for integration into Azure AD, and a whole host of on-prem and Cloud based services. My home connection is AT&T gigabit up/down, and I consistently get ~900mb/s in both directions from wired devices, and ~200mb/s+- from wireless devices, depending on what access point it’s using. I have one Amplifi router, and one mesh point, which more than covers my house. The Amplifi router has Hardware NAT, Bypass DNS, and 802.11v enabled (using /k causes problems). I have extensive experience with VPN’s, namely the one built into Windows Server 2016, which is what I’ve been using for years. But it’s hard to maintain, and the certs used for it are expensive. It’s also not feasible for non-Windows machines in that I have to connect each device manually, install certs. And the of course for devices like my kindle and Nintendo, it’s not even an option. It’s a pain, and I’ve been looking for a solution like the Teleport for a while now.

    When I travel, I take:

    • Amazon Fire TV Stick
    • Kindle Oasis (2.4ghz only)
    • Laptop (802.11ac)
    • iPad Pro
    • iPhone
    • Nintendo Switch

    When on the road, I’m a power user in that I always have something streaming on the Fire TV, and am doing work on my home network (which usually entails quite a bit of copying files around from my laptop in my room to home servers, etc). The majority of my testing has been done from a hotel in Indianapolis that has fabulous WiFi of about 100mb/s both up and down (and I’ve done this on purpose to eliminate any external bottlenecks that would affect my testing). It’s an open network with no guest logon required, just connect and go.

    Enough background, here’s my mini review. The teleport device itself is nice, albeit a bit large, and the plug doesn’t fold flat. My bag is already full of technology, so folding power pins is a must in my opinion. I also wish it could be plugged in with a USB connection, but folding power pins are an absolute must.

    Setting it up was very easy, just plug the device in, pair it with the router, and you’re done. Testing it is easy if you have 2 devices, one of which supports setting up a hotspot. If you don’t have 2 devices, you’ll need to test it from a coffee shop, or a friends house, but I would trust this device enough to know it just works if the pairing succeeds, but testing is always a good idea. What isn’t convenient is the inability to store frequently used networks on the Teleport itself, and that it has to reboot a couple times to switch to another network. For me, connecting takes a couple of minutes, and then about another 10 minutes before my home network is completely available: I can access LAN resources immediately, but it takes 10 minutes before I can access external resources. I currently have a support ticket open with Amplifi on this...but the good news is that once it’s up, it stays up, I have had zero hiccups, no disconnections, nothing. It just stays up and is rock solid.

    One thing that wasn’t obvious was how to switch “bands” on the Teleport when using a wired connection. It’s only a toggle when connected to a wired connection; when connected to either 2.4 or 5ghz, it’s not toggleable, so I didn’t realize it became a toggle when connected to wired. I’ve done a litany of speed tests, and wired is absolutely the way to go if available, but that caps out at around 12mb/s up/down. Wireless I get around 10mb/s up/down.

    Perhaps the biggest benefit of this device is that it’ll be my single point of connection now for my devices, thus saving a lot of time (and sometimes money for hotels that charge extra for additional devices). Another huge benefit is knowing all my communications are now encrypted over open networks, which is a HUGE plus. Of course my Windows based VPN solution was encrypted, but as I stated earlier, it was a nightmare to maintain, and very expensive for the certificates needed to encrypt the cert had to be installed on all client machines needing access. Plus you have to set up user accounts, etc...the Teleport is much easier. I plug it in, connect it to the guest network, and all my other devices are good to go immediately. I give this device a B for ease of set up and usability, though I don’t like that some settings are in the web UI, and others are in the Amplifi app. I hope those can be consolidated soon. And, changing connection settings on the Teleport is a little time consuming, but it’s something that only needs to be done once per network change. I have no idea why it takes 10 minutes for my entire home network to be usable, but I’ve already gotten used to it. But it’s plenty fast enough to support RDP sessions into my home servers, which is one of my main use cases...and now I don’t have to open up additional ports.

    Here’s my wishlist for future incarnations:

    • 12mb/s is just too slow. I get good streaming for Netflix, Hulu, and DirecTV NOW, but Plex is unusable without dumbing down the quality quite a bit. If I’m doing bandwidth intensive operations on my laptop, it breaks everything down (though I do have my Fire TV prioritized, so it’s my laptop transfer that slows down to a trickle).
    • Supporting multiple streaming devices isn’t an option, so don’t go using this device if traveling with your family. There’s just not enough bandwidth available to support more than 1 streaming device. Multiple Teleports could mitigate this, but that defeats the whole purpose of simplicity. I don’t know if multiple Teleports are even supported, though I hope it is so that multiple people in a family could have their own teleport to take with them when they travel separately.
    • Having a dual band antenna in the teleport device would be nice. I have to use 2.4ghz due to my Kindle being 2.4 only. I could probably get faster speeds from 5ghz, but it still wouldn’t be enough.
    • “Dual tunneling”, meaning suppose I start giving these out to remote workers or clients who I want to have access to my home network, but also have access to their own local resources. Cisco supports this, but that is way too expensive and complicated for my own needs. But I want to be able to take this with me to client sites, and I would need to be able to access my home network resources in addition to the client network’s at the same time. I’m in the process of negating any of this with Azure, but it’s still a big need.

    By far my biggest ask is to up the speeds, and by a lot. I don’t know what the limitation is on this, but I’d be willing to pay more for a “super teleport” or a “teleport HD” to get higher speeds. I think 50mb/s would be good (though of course you’re limited to whatever guest network you’re connected to, and your home connection). I understand there is always going to be overhead with encryption and tunneling, but this is just way too slow. If the speeds can be upped, this would be pretty close to a perfect device for my own needs, and I can get rid of my current Windows VPN solution.

    I realize my requirements differ from most casual users, but even casual users who might use one when traveling with a family, they’ll run into issues if they try to do multiple streams at once. But all things being equal, this is a great device for the first iteration, and the setup/connection experience is incredible since all you need is the Amplifi router, and the Teleport. Nothing else exists like this for the consumer market. Just get the speeds up, tweak a few things, and you’ll have a very good product. Overall I’m happy, and I’ve learned my way around the quirk.

    But please, get the speeds up! Thank you for this great little device. It gets me most of the way to where I need to be, and I’m a pretty demanding user.

  • I'm all for a "super" Teleport!

    I'd settle for a solution that would allow a 2nd HD router to behave as that "super" Teleport. There's really no reason it can't. It would give me wired ports, and it would open the idea of using mesh points while remote (although I suspect the regular Teleport could use mesh points with some rearchitecture on the software front).

    Using that AmpliFi HD as a "super" Teleport would allow me to stand up an instant remote campus that was powerful enough to share with many, not just with my handful of devices.

    The Teleport stays in my travel bag at all times, but for extended trips, I'd pack an AmpliFi HD if it was as quick/seamless to setup as the existing Teleport. I'd argue maybe even easier, since that front touch screen opens up a whole new universe of quick config options.

  • @jayson-knight - has the kernel space VPN solution been implemented yet that is supposed to improve performance?
    Or are we still waiting on that?

    @UBNT-Gunars hinted that there could be some significant improvements coming for UDP data video streaming with improved TCP wrapping...

  • @derek-saville Don’t know. I have seen one of the ubnt folks mentioning it in a thread that was 2 months old, so maybe it has? Sadly, the Teleport forums don’t really seem to be kept up to date with latest releases/etc, when in reality it’s this little device that is the coup de gras for the entire Amplifi system. I realize not everyone will need (or even want) a Teleport...I could care less about getting my “home” streaming channels or whatever, it’s the encryption that makes this device so important since most public WiFi networks are open, and that it works with ALL of my devices.

    Every single person who owns an Amplifi system should have one of these devices for privacy reasons alone.

  • @jayson-knight - my understanding was that the performance should be improved overall.

    I have 2 Teleports, one for travel and one for a fixed remote location.
    The streaming performance improvement could at least help with sharing precious bandwidth...

    My experience has been similar to yours except:

    • for me wired WAN Teleport connections perform worse (<10mb/s) than wireless (~14mb/s)
    • 'rock solid' only lasts about 6 days, then it drops the connection and won't come back without going into the portal and setting up the WAN connection again. If I manually unplug and plug-in before it falls off the cliff it just reboots and reconnects.

    @UBNT-Gunars - do you have any estimate for dropping the Teleport improvements?

  • @derek-saville My wired fixed remote location has yet to drop... would be measured in weeks of uptime save for the last reboot to put 2.6.3 on there.

  • @albert-lee - thanks, I will try a wired WAN connection again after the next firmware release and see if the wired WAN speed can catch back up. Right now I use wireless WAN for the higher actual speed I can achieve.
    The latency improvement of the wired connection isn't worth the speed drop I got.

    Are you also using an Amplifi router at your fixed remote location?

  • @derek-saville I have an EdgeRouter 4 at home, and the HD is in bridge mode behind it. I only use a Teleport at the remote location (in my case, my office).

  • @derek-saville Hi Derek! We're working on in-app setup over Bluetooth and kernel space VPN. The latter is about 3x faster than the current VPN. Currently planning both for end of May.

  • @ubnt-gunars This is fabulous news. If you can get it closer to 30mb/s (50mb/s would be perfect actually) that would be a HUGE leap forward. What are the constraints that make the speed so slow as-is? Is it processing power? I’d gladly pay 200 bucks for a unit that is more powerful, even if it was larger in size. You guys have a real winner here, and has renewed my faith in your product (I was close to upgrading to your UBNT line at one point, but the recent firmware upgrades are keeping me with you).

  • @albert-lee - I have an HD in bridge mode at home and an HD in bridge mode at my remote site.
    Unfortunately both locations have cable modem/routers that I have to use for various reasons and can't themselves be put into bridge mode.

    Just out of curiosity, do you use Smart Queue QoS on your EdgeRouter?
    Does it make a difference for Teleport'ng?

    My setup also has one peculiar unexplained behavior - even though my HD router at home is in bridge mode, if I toggle Hardware NAT ON in the HD Router web app, I get slightly higher Teleport performance (up to +2mb/s). That makes no sense at all since no NAT is occurring.
    Not sure if the code path changes slightly for HW NAT or if it is just a fluke.
    But I can also see some pretty high swings in Teleport performance if I reboot the home cable modem and/or HD router.
    Sometimes the performance just drops off to nothing and I have to keep rebooting until I get a good connection.
    If HW NAT is ON, the likelihood of a higher performance connection goes up and seems to be more consistent.

    I was really expecting wired connections (on the WAN or LAN side) to be better, and even complained a lot that Teleport didn't have dual Ethernet for simultaneous LAN & WAN Ethernet.
    But for me, I just can't seem to improve on the wireless setup.
    I figured it might be internal routing between the wired and wireless sides.

    As for the Teleport going offline after 5 or 6 days, I do also notice that when my Teleport is online, my remote site HD Router pops up random DNS errors (internet stalls and the app shows a red X on the Diagnosis tab saying something about IPv4 DNS failure and there is No Internet Access).
    The failure can last a minute or two then just self corrects.
    Figured it is something strange going on with the remote ISP and how the Teleport is constantly communicating back to the home network 24/7 no matter what, even if no clients are connected (can see the non-stop blinky light activity on the cable modem that only stops when the Teleport is unplugged).

    Maybe if the DNS pauses for too long the Teleport disconnects?
    I sent a support file of the DNS problem to AmpliFi.

    Without the Teleport plugged in, I have never seen an HD Router DNS issue and the HD Router seems 'rock solid'.

    Can't wait to test out new higher performance firmware and see if all of these little issue get ironed out.

  • @jayson-knight - agreed, the Teleport is THE one thing that keeps me from trying other solutions...

  • @derek-saville I don't have any QoS on my ER right now... nor do I have HW NAT turned on for the AmpliFi HD either. It's a pretty non-exotic config on both the ER and the HD.

    One other data point is that I've always used one of the public DNS servers ( until recently, and have switched to I have dnsmasq enabled on my EdgeRouter as well.

  • @jayson-knight there's two things that limit performance now:

    1. we're tunneling UDP traffic over TCP
    2. current userspace VPN takes up a lot of CPU cycles (both on the router and the Teleport)

    Both will be addressed by the upcoming firmware updates. Beyond that we'd need a more powerful CPU in the router. Currently Teleport is perfectly matched with the router.

  • @ubnt-gunars:
    Beyond that we'd need a more powerful CPU in the router

    I'd like an AmpliFi Pro Router, btw! 😉

  • @ubnt-gunars That’s fabulous news, waiting on pins and needles. If you can get the speed up, your siblings over at Ubiquiti won’t get my money.

    Awesome job, this little device is incredible. I need a switch soon though, what would you recommend from Ubiquiti? PoE would be great, but I want to keep it SUPER simple. The monitoring software is great, but I don’t really need it, so what’s the simplest switch from Ubiquiti? Or, will there ever be an Amplifi branded switch? 4 ports on the router just isn’t enough.

  • @derek-saville Ubiquiti has a similar solution with their Cloud Key, but Teleport is so much simpler. Really hoping they get the speeds up.

    Anyone know what the speeds are for the Cloud Key?

  • @jayson-knight Cloud Key is only for device management. It does not do anything client VPN related.

  • @jayson-knight If you got two AmpliFi routers, there would be 7 (because one will be taken up by wired backhaul) or 8 ports that you can use.

  • @ubnt-gunars I have 8 ethernet-connected devices on my desk in my home office. I currently use a cheap/crappy TP-Link switch for now. Sure it works fine, but it would be nice to have a go-to option from UBNT. The Ubiquiti US-8 Unifi Switch was the cheapest option I could find with 8+ ports, with obviously many much more expensive options as well. Would this be the closest current option for a desktop switch for these situations?

    Ethernet ports disappear very quickly!

    1. Workstation
    2. Workstation
    3. Workstation
    4. TV
    5. TiVo
    6. Laptop
    7. Printer
    8. A run to another switch elsewhere in my house

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