“As we celebrate our 20th anniversary in 2016, our commitment to being the first to bring you the best in whole-home connectivity solutions continues,” said Patrick Lo, founder and CEO of NETGEAR. “Whether it’s Wi-Fi, powerline, Ethernet, cable DSL or LTE, we combine the most powerful and cutting-edge networking technologies into the most innovative product designs to suit your needs.”
“The foundation of the smart home is the underlying high-performance network that supercharges it. If you want to access HD Internet content in-the-moment, you need Wi-Fi that reaches everywhere you are, at the speed and signal strength you need for streaming, gaming, home security and working remotely. In our mobile culture today, high-performance Wi-Fi is not something you can do without,” he added.
Following is an overview of the releases. Reviews will follow in a few weeks.
Wi-Fi routers and extenders
But first a word of advice. To be fair to NETGEAR and all other router makers, AC ratings are highly theoretical and relate to maximum combined band throughput from the router to the end-points like Xbox, notebooks, tablets, etc.
While modern end-point devices may support dual band (and none yet support tri-band) the maximum speed from the router to end point they are likely to get will be somewhere around 100Mbps, and that is generally faster than your internet speed.
In Australia many suffer from appalling broadband speeds:
- ADSL, 2, and 2+ achieve a maximum of 20Mbps and users typically get around 10-12Mbps although if you live further away from the Exchange, or in rural and regional areas, you will get less than 5Mbps.
- Cable Broadband (typically BigPond) can go as high as 100Mbps but the vast majority are on a 30Mbps maximum plan (typically providing a minimum of 20Mbps).
- If you are lucky enough to have NBN fibre, you should get a guaranteed speed. Most consumers select 25Mbps although higher speeds are available at much higher costs.
- Satellite is also available at up to 25Mbps although most only average 12Mbps.
The real reason for buying a blazingly fast router is for ‘coverage’ – large homes, mixed construction materials, more IoT devices to attach, and the need to make maximum use of the external internet speed you have.
The real reason for a tri-band is to separate bandwidth intensive tasks from the rest of the network -the Rolls Royce of routers.
The flagship is the new Nighthawk X8, AC5300, tri-band, MU-MIMO smart router $699 (R8500).
It sounds fast, and it is, but that’s not the secret to solving the smart home conundrum. It is essentially an AC3200 dual band (2.4GHz x 1000Mbps and 5GHz x 2.2Gbps) plus a separate 5GHz band providing up to 2.2Gbps. Use the later for things like 4K video streaming on or gaming. It has 4 x 4 data stream transmission (four external and four internal antennas), Beamforming, dual Gigabit Ethernet port aggregation (WAN), six Gigabit Ethernet ports, one USB 3.0, and one USB 2.0 ports.
Although released in September 2015 it remains the staple of the line for 2016. iTWire reviewed this and was amazed at the difference it made compared to N series routers. It delivers one 2.4GHz 800Mbps and one 5GHz 1733Mbps. It is best for larger homes and apartments and makes the most difference in boosting lower signals.
Nighthawk AC1900 Smart WiFi Router (R7000) delivers one 2.4GHz 600Mhz and one 5GHz 1399Mbps. Its best for smaller homes and apartments.
NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2200 WiFi Range Extender $299 (EX7300) - the first AC2200 wall-plug range extender with MU-MIMO technology. It maximises the range of existing WiFi routers up to 1000 m2 simultaneously streaming HD data to multiple devices at lightning-fast speeds up to 2.2Gbps (one 2.4GHz 450Mbps and one 5GHz 1733Mbps).
Arlo IP cameras
Arlo is billed as a smart home security camera.
The Arlo Wire-free released early 2015 was groundbreaking in that it was the first portable, weatherproof, battery-operated, Wi-Fi, 720p, night-vision enabled, networkable, security camera (and pet/child monitor, etc.). The cute design and relative affordability made it a hit.
The $349 Arlo Q VMC3040 comes a year later and is a mains powered device that builds on the Arlo tradition. Its main difference is that it does not require a base station, it has a built-in speaker and microphone (yes you can answer the door in real-time) and supports 1080p recording.
iTWire will review the new Q soon.
TELSTRA/NETGEAR AirCard 810S and cradle
Its known as Telstra Wi-Fi 4GX Advanced III, a commercial mobile hotspot featuring support for Category 11 LTE and 3-band Carrier Aggregation and theoretical download speeds of 600 Mbps. Transitioning from Category 6 to Category 11 LTE-Advanced connectivity means double the peak download speeds, swift application response times, reliable connectivity and a better overall user experience for buffering data-heavy programs such as multimedia and video files.
The AirCard Smart Cradle makes this a powerful LTE, Wi-Fi AC dual band router with this with high-gain internal and external Wireless WAN and Wi-Fi antennas, 1 USB port and 5 Ethernet ports.
To say these devices should make a difference in commercial and even rural applications (especially the cradle with high gain antenna) is an understatement.
NETGEAR recently added two- and four-bay models, the $629 ReadyNAS 212 and the $839 ReadyNAS 214, that deliver real-time 1080p high-definition video transcoding capability offering the best performance in their value class for storing, streaming, transcoding, and protecting all your precious photos, videos and files.
Brad Little, Vice President and Managing Director NETGEAR A/NZ said, “With the connected device market expected to reach $3.2 million in Australia by 2019, what we are seeing is an evolution of connectivity rather than revolution. What this means is connectivity is being added to existing products and services – such as white goods, security and energy devices. As this trend continues, NETGEAR will be at the forefront of delivering devices that drive this connectivity.”
Although more a SOHO (small office/home office product) these are increasingly being used in home networks as the ‘hub’. They are low profile, fan-less, wall, desk, vertical or horizontally mounted and all the connectors including power and two USB charging ports (8 port only) are on the front. They come in 8 and 16 port Gigabit models.