Tenda may not be the first name that comes into your head when you think of networking devices, but they have been around since 1999 as the first homegrown router and device manufacturer in the Chinese market. We’ve recently reviewed a few of their products including another wireless AC router, the Tenda AC15. Today, I’ll be unboxing Tenda’s latest model in their AC router line, the AC9. Let’s get the box open and have a look!
Tenda’s orange on black colour scheme results in a very eye-catching retail packaging without being overwhelming due to the matte finish of the box. The front of the box features a photo of the AC9 on the left side below the Tenda logo. Down the right side is a list of highlight features such as AC1200, Gigabit wired connections, beamforming, and sleep mode.
On the right side of the box there is a detailed specifications list below another Tenda logo. The AC9 features 802.11/b/g/n/ac along with 4 LAN and 1 WAN Gigabit ports for wired connections. The two external omni-directional antennas provide up to 300 Mbps over 802.11n at 2.4 GHz and 867 Mbps over 802.11ac at 5 GHz and can operate concurrently for dual band support. The rest of the specs list covers the physical properties of the AC9.
On the left side of the box the package contents are listed below the same Tenda logo found on the right side. Below the package contents section are a pair of QR codes to download the iOS and Android apps before you even open the box. At the bottom of the panel, the system requirements are listed, which are very generous as they start at Windows XP and IE 8.0 as minimum. More modern devices are supported as well with listed compatibility with Windows 7, 8, and 10 as well as Mac, provided the latest versions of Chrome, Safari, or Firefox are used.
The rear of the box features the Tenda logo again in the upper left alongside a description of the AC9 along the top. Three lifestyle photos below the logo and description highlight Tenda’s claims of a “superior experience for gaming and streaming”, “ultimate coverage and stable performance”, and “smart management via Tenda App”. A chart of features compares the AC9 against some of Tenda’s offerings including the AC15, AC18, and FH1202. On the right of this chart is a photo with the back panel connectors labelled and example devices shown relative to the connection they use. Finally, the bottom edge of the back panel features icons of the various features the AC9 provides including easy setup, dual band, USB printer support, and FTP and VPN servers.
Inside the box, Tenda packages the AC9 in a shaped cardboard insert with the Ethernet cable and power adapter in their own cavities. The AC9 is packaged in a loose plastic bag over the removable base (also in a bag) and all the documentation. It is a compact but secure arrangement and the bulk of the packaging should be easily recycled in most municipalities should you not be the type to hold on to device boxes.
The router itself has a slightly curved surface on the front with a series of diagonal lines running across most of it. Status lights adorn the glossy band at the top which is protected by a removable plastic film to prevent scratches. Tenda has included the default WiFi connection info as a sticker on this strip which allows it to be easily removed once the router is setup. The twin antennas protrude from the top edge of the router and sport the slightly blade shaped form that seems to be popular with routers today. The D-shaped base clips into the bottom edge of the AC9 providing a resting surface for the device.
A perforated grid of holes provides both the functional cooling for the AC9’s internals along with the style for the rear of the unit. The grid is broken only for the information sticker in the middle of the device and the cutout area that contains the ports near the bottom edge. On the left end is the power jack, followed by the WPS, WiFi, and reset buttons. In the middle, the internet port is distinctively blue to differentiate it from the four yellow LAN ports. The right-most LAN port is labelled 4/IPTV, implying that it may have additional functionality or QoS capabilities. The final port on the back is a white USB 2.0 Type-A port to provide printer or storage connectivity.
Notably absent on the AC9 is any manner of wall mounting capability as the rear-facing ports would prevent the typical keyhole mounting that many other routers employ. For most people, this is likely not a big issue but for some the lack of a wall mounting option could be a deal breaker. Hopefully, the performance of the AC9 in the second part of my review will earn it a spot standing on my desk instead of mounted to the wall underneath. Stay tuned for a detailed look into the performance and software coming soon!