Netgear's Nighthawk routers, range extenders supercharge your network with MU-MIMO
The new Nighthawk router, the Nighthawk X4S AC2600 (aka the R7800) is a dual-band, 4x4 model with a 1.7GHz processor. It will deliver maximum TCP throughput of up to 1733Mbps on the 5GHz frequency band, and up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. MU-MIMO support should help increase performance in households where several users are streaming media to mobile devices—the router will support up to 160MHz of bandwidth with compatible clients.
The Nighthawk X4S slots just below Netgear’s flagship router, the Nighthawk X8. While it will have only a four-port gigabit switch to the X8’s six-port switch, the newer and less-expensive model will have the same two USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port, and it will also be outfitted with an e-SATA port. Netgear says the Nighthawk X4S is available now at a suggested retail price of $270.
Netgear is adding two new products to its Nighthawk line of range extenders. Unlike the tabletop models introduced at last year’s CES, both of these new extenders are designed to plug straight into AC outlets. The $170 Nighthawk X4 AC2200 (EX7300) supports MU-MIMO and beamforming technology to deliver maximum throughput to multiple devices at speeds up to 2.2Gbps. The $140 Nighthawk X4 AC1900 (EX6400) is almost identical, but it delivers maximum throughput of 1.9Gbps.
Both range extenders are equipped with four internal antennas, and Netgear says they can provide coverage of up to 10,000 square feet. Both are dual-band products supporting Netgear’s FastLane technology, which uses both the 2.4- and 5GHz frequency bands to increase throughput. When enabled in the extender, FastLane uses one band to connect the range extender to Wi-Fi clients, and the other band to connect the range extender to the router.
The EX6400 and the EX7300 are also equipped with a single gigabit ethernet port, so that you can connect a device that requires a hardwired connection to your network (you could also connect an ethernet switch to this port and support multiple hardwired devices). Another alternative would be to connect either of the range extenders to your router with an ethernet cable and deploy it as a wireless access point. Netgear says both products should be available now.
Netgear is announcing only two powerline products at this year’s CES, with the $120 PowerLine WiFi 1000 being the more interesting of the two. It’s a HomePlug AV2 model that Netgear says is capable of supporting gigabit throughput over powerlines. “500Mbps has been a race to the bottom,” said Netgear product manager Oleg Fishel. “We see 500Mbps as a dying technology.”
As with any powerline adapter, you plug one module into an electrical outlet near your router and then use an ethernet cable to connect it to your router. Plug the companion module into an outlet near the device you want to add to your network and connect it to the adapter.
Unlike most powerline modules, however, the companion module can also function as an 802.11ac wireless access point. A set of LEDs on the companion module indicate the strength of the powerline connection, which removes some of the trial-and-error process from the setup (in our experience, powerline performance can vary widely from one outlet to the next, depending on the quality and condition of your home’s electrical wiring). If you can make a good connection, this could be a higher-performing alternative to deploying the typical wireless range extender.
Netgear’s other powerline adapter is much more conventional. The $70 PLW1000 is also HomePlug AV2 compliant; as such, it is capable of throughput of 500Mbps. But this model can service only wired clients and can’t function as a wireless access point. Netgear says both adapter kits are available now.
In other Netgear news, the company announced that its previously announced Arlo Q indoor home security camera is now available for purchase.