Why are WiFi routers so ugly?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/12/28/why-are-wifi-routers-so-ugly.html


One of the best decisions I’ve made regarding home Wi-Fi was to go with wired access points. I’ll take these over plastic spiders any day.


My router lives in the hall closet, so it can be as ugly as it wants to be.


I have this little guy with the 2 meshes, though I don’t think I ended up needing the meshes after I relocated where the main router was going to sit in my little house from a corner room to a central room. When the time comes for 6, I’ll probably get their scary ‘alien’, which is (gasp) black…but still doesn’t look like a nightmare.


Ok, I like that description. You spent some time on that didn’t you?


Huh. Our router looks like a retro spaceship, actually


I hollowed out an old book and slid our ISP’s router inside. Not the best for airflow and now that we own our router, I need to find a better solution.

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The more facets and antennas an object has, the higher its perceived value to the consumer.


Would you prefer something from one of the monopolies?
They all look Apple-ish… is that what you really want, a touch from blessed pen of Ive, all bereft of features (spare censoring the internet for your kids/colleagues/customers, whatever), dependent on mobile apps to manage?

I’d post images (your wysiwg editor allows embedding, but your admins in their wisdom have disabled the feature on server side validation).

It seems to me that there is a curious cost/aesthetics curve:

At the very low end you have the stuff that’s too cheap to afford wacky tooling and is ugly in a can’t-be-bothered sort of way; maybe an eclectic selection of surface treatments; but otherwise just a plastic box, sometimes with plastic antennas.

For anywhere from a few dollars more to a hair under $200 you get the aggressively styled “I will cut you with my l33tness” mecha-spiders.

It’s the mesh networking wireless kits that seem to favor the “I took a polygon and dragged one edge in CAD/smooth and minimalist marred by at least one excessively bright LED” school of design.

Once you get to APs that probably cost more than your computer(potentially even before mandatory licenses and controller hardware); you go to beige minimalism.


Was just about to post the same. Have a Ubiquiti LR AP and it covers my whole house. And looks like a ‘smart’ smoke detector.


Yes, they stand out as exceptionally ugly in a field known for ugly products. But since they can’t be made invisible (yet) your best alternative is to hide them.

That’s something the tops of your cabinets are good for. Put it in an open-top non-metal container, like a decorative basket or large bowl, and keep it out of sight.

Don’t like even that much visibility? Screw it to the wall inside a small closet, above the door. And after you take it down, your landlord will never even notice the screw holes.

Or you can wait a bit longer until all your electronics have 5G. Many people won’t even need a router then.


Similar here, due to the general uselessness of virgin media’s offerings here in the UK (FU superhubs*) my network has gradually morphed into the superhub going into modem-only mode, an old micro-pc taking over the routing with pfsense (magnitudes better than the superhubs) and two ex-corporate mikrotik WiFi-APs from ebay for wifi.

Probably uses a lot more power, but it’s rock-stable and i have magnitudes better control and features available…

*my breaking point was a hardcoded LAN IP address range on the router

Edit, found a pic of the micro-pc, with an ethernet card bodged into the wifi PCIe socket, works great :smiley:


This is a pretty textbook devil’s-playground situation. Design feeds off constraints, and a wifi router has virtually no (physical) constraints, so the more time you put into “designing” it, the more masturbatory the whole exercise becomes.

Once the tech is stable enough, these devices will become featureless boxes the size of a pack of tarot cards, and you’ll buy them in 5-packs at Home Depot and mount them behind the drywall and forget where they even are.


Can’t think how the concept arrived


I’ve chopped the back side off of Ikea DVD boxes in order to hide surge protectors. Perhaps something similar could get better airflow?


Some look Dick Tracy retro:


I’m running an Asus OnHub, and while it’s Google hardware (some people care about that), by god it’s the most stable router I’ve ever owned/used. Easily added some mesh units, only rebooted 2 (3?) times in 3+ years.

Looks nice too…even though it’s stashed in a closet.

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You can buy in-wall access points that go into a junction box. They’re meant to replace an existing Ethernet jack. They’re not cheap enough for five-packs yet, though.

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So the babylon-5 shadow ships had great wifi coverage?

the ‘tear down’ has already occurred to prove that all those sea-urchin spikes are actually connected to the circuit board - yes?