Poynting PUCK-5 Omni-Directional LTE / WiFi / GPS Antenna Review – Ideal for canal boats, camper vans and motor homes

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Poynting PUCK-5 Omni-Directional Review Rating

Summary

The Poynting PUCK-5 is excellent, and I was able to achieve consistently get about double the speed compared to using the hotspot without an antenna on a canal boat in mostly rural environments. The puck design is discrete, and the magnetic mount was particularly useful on a canal boat. 

I have reviewed a few 4G and 5G routers over the years, including 4G and 5G mobile hotspots.

It has become an increasingly viable option for home use. I am able to get over 100Mbit/s from Vodafone in my office, while the best I can get from BT Broadband VDSL is 56Mbps. If you live in a 5G area, then speeds can be significantly higher.

Of course, one of the big problems with relying on mobile data is the quality of the signal. 5G is less effective at penetrating objects than 4G, so it is beneficial for most people to use some sort of external antenna. The antenna should help improve speeds, but it will also help maintain consistent performance.

I am lucky that I can get a reliable 4G signal in my office, but not 5G. However, once I had finished reviewing the ZTE MU5001, which was sold as a Vodafone 5G Mobile Hotspot, I gave it to my mother to use on her canal boat.

Canal boats are not great for mobile hotspots. They are big metal boxes floating down rural canals. The limited signal will often struggle to penetrate what is essentially a faraday cage.

I, therefore, wanted to find a suitable outdoor antenna that could improve the quality of the Internet.

There were some limitations to my choices. My mother is an interior designer that has renovated the boat herself; there is absolutely zero chance that I was going to get her to mount some permanent ugly omnidirectional antenna on the side of her lovingly restored boat.

Poynting PUCK Series – Ideal for canal boats / motor homes / camper vans

This led me to the Poynting PUCK series of omni-directional antennas. These are specifically advertised for marine, coastal, industrial and transportation use.

They are a relatively discrete antenna, being puck shaped as the name suggests, with the cables coming through the base of the puck.

They have multiple mounting options, and if you are willing to drill a hole into the vehicle, then you can permanently and relatively discretely mount this on a roof, held in place either with 3M or the cables running through under the puck into the vehicle.

For the time being, I have set the Poynting PUCK up as a temporary antenna using the magnetic base. This works as expected; the magnetic base sits flat on the bottom of the PUCK and has a channel for you to route the cables out the side. With it being a big steel box, it is quite easy to mount on the roof of the boat as and when needed.

For other installations, you also have a wall mount.  

Poynting PUCK Variations

Poynting has a significant number of PUCK antennas. These go from the PUCK-1 to the PUCK-12 and various antenna options inside them with different outputs.

For example, the Poynting PUCK-5 I was sent is the 4-in-1, and it can do 5G/4G, WiFi and GPS. Some antennas only have the 2×2 MIMO LTE antenna, which makes them a bit more affordable.

NetXL list many of the antennas here, and you can use the Poynting website with its comparison tool to find the best option for your needs.

Poynting PUCK-5 Antenna Specification

  • Small & Low-Profile
  • 2G/3G/4G/LTE antenna (5G Ready)
  • 5-in-1 High Performance multi Frequency
  • Cellular Frequency Bands: 690-960 MHz | 1710 2700 MHz | 3200 – 3800 MHz
  • Wi-Fi Frequency Bands: 2400 – 2500 MHz | 5000 – 6000 MHz
  • Ruggedness, corrosion, water, dust resistance (IP68)
  • Fire Resistant (complies with ECE-R 118.02)
  • UV Stable Enclosure
  • Max Gain: LTE 6dBi | Wi-Fi 7.5dBi | GPS 21 dBi
  • Coax Cable Length: 2m
  • Connector Type: SMA (male)

Intended Applications

  • Smart Utilities: Smart Power, Gas & Water Metering
  • Smart Buildings: Climate control, access control, security, irrigation
  • Digital Signage
  • Warehouses & Logistic systems
  • Industrial factory automation, robotic machinery and other M2M systems
  • Transport (Busses, Utility & Public Safety)
  • Mining Vehicles & Machinery Communications, Telemetry and Automation (M2M & IoT)
  • Agricultural Machinery
  • Marine: small boats, yachts near to coastlines or inner waters

Performance

Prior to testing this on the boat with the ZTE MU5001, I decided to try the antenna out in my home office using the Netgear NBK752 5G mesh router.

I can’t get 5G in my office, but I do have excellent 4G. I think the Netgear NBK752 has a particularly good antenna built-in, likely helped by the fact that it is a massive router. In this scenario, I didn’t really see any positive effect.

There are mobile phone masts installed on a water tower which is in line of sight to my home, so I think the 4G signal I get is just as good as I am ever going to get, with or without an antenna.

With the boat, things are a little different, and this is a good scenario for the antenna. In some locations, you may be able to get a good signal and not require an outdoor antenna, but sailing down canals in the countryside inevitably takes you to areas with substandard mobile signals, and this can significantly help.

I spent a day on the boat, going from the Lancaster canal, over the River Ribble link and down to Burscough, which is a moderately far distance with varying signal quality.

This antenna uses SMA connections, so if you plan to use a mobile router such as the ZTE MU5001, then you will need a TS-9 Male to SMA-Female adaptor.

In this scenario, the antenna produced consistently better results than the hotspot by itself. My initial test nearly doubled the download speeds and more than doubled the upload speed. Latency was also massively improved, albeit still quite poor overall.

Throughout the day, speeds varied, but the antenna consistently improved the performance by a considerable margin.

Price and Alternative Options

The Poynting PUCK-5 I was sent was provided by NetXL. The specific product number is A-PUCK-0005-V1-01, and it is available for £95.

There are plenty of cheaper Poynting PUCK variants. In particular, if you only want it to boost your 4G/LTE signal, there are several versions that are two in one or are just 4G LTE, and you can pick these up for around £50 on Amazon.

NextXL has the Poynting PUCK-1 SISO LTE Antenna for a little under £40.

Overall

I have been impressed with the Poynting PUCK-5 antenna. Performance has been good in rural environments I was consistently getting about double the speed compared to using the hotspot without an antenna.

Just as importantly, the overall design and form factor works well for my intended purposes and a lot of user scenarios in general. It has a small, durable form factor, adding little height to any vehicle you may install this on and has a relatively discrete aesthetic.

The intended applications may imply this has more commercial or industrial uses, but it should be very appealing to anyone that has a motorhome, camper van, or canal boat or any other form of boat.  

Last update on 2022-07-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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