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Synology RT2600ac review: The best router any savvy user could ask for

Synology RT2600ac review: The best router any savvy user could ask for

he Good The RT2600 has long range, fast Wi-Fi speed and plenty of features. The router can host more than one broadband connection, and also works as a robust network storage server when coupled with an external hard drive. It also includes state of the art firmware that delivers a stellar set of extra features.

The Bad There’s no support for combining two LAN ports into a single superfast connection and you might wish the router had more than five network ports.

The Bottom Line If you’re looking to create a fast and highly customizable home network with advanced features, look no further than the RT2600AC.

Synology’s RT2600 wireless router is a major upgrade to last year’s RT1900AC. At the suggested price of $230 (currently you might have to pay a bit more on the street,) the new model is about $80 more expensive than its older brother but it’s totally worth the cost. That price converts roughly to £185 in the UK and AU$300 in Australia. The RT2600 is one of the fastest Wi-Fi routers on the market,which has the most comprehensive set of features. And when you connect an external hard drive, the router also works as a network storage (NAS) server so you can share data and stream contents to local as well as remote clients.

This is a router that can build a robust, non-compromising, secure home network.

Killer firmware

Like all AC2600 routers, the RT2600AC is a quad-stream (4×4) router with top speeds of up to 1,733 megabits per seconds on the 5GHz band and up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHZ band (keep in mind that these are just the ceiling speeds). What makes it stand out from the rest is its operating system (or firmware) called Synology Router Management (SRM).

With most routers, the firmware — managed via a web page — is rather primitive, and often bloated with menus and submenus. SRM works like that of a modern operating system, similar to Windows or MacOS. Within a web interface, it allows for opening multiple windows, search, notifications, transition effects and so on.

More importantly, things are organized in a way that’s easy for anyone who’s ever worked with a computer to figure out. There’s a control panel where most settings are located, a desktop with shortcuts to its main features and settings, a Start button that brings up more shortcuts and even a Package Center where you can install packages (applications) that add more functions to the router.

And if you don’t like the web interface there’s also a free DS Router app (for iOS and Android) that allows you to manage some of the router’s settings and built-in features on your smartphone, both locally and when you’re away from home.

 SRM is by far the most advanced firmware for routers I’ve seen both in design and functionality. Configuring the RT2600AC, therefore, is more akin to setting up a computer than a network device, reflecting the fact that the RT2600AC is designed for advanced users who want to customize their home network. Home users who just want to get online fast without having to fiddle with settings.

Comprehensive add-on features

The RT2600AC is the Package Center is the most powerful feature. It’s basically an app store where you can add more functions/features to the router. Want your router to work as a VPN server? Install the VPN package. Want the router to download files by itself? Get the Download Station package. Need to keep your entire home network secure? Don’t miss the Intrusion Prevention package.

Currently Synology offers eight free apps with more to come. The router also supports packages developed by third parties. And of course, if you don’t want any of these, you can uninstall them at anytime.

It’s important to note that each of these free apps are extremely well-designed, comprehensive and deserves a separate review of its own. The Download Station, for example, can download files from any sources, including FTP servers, DHCP servers, or file sharing services like BitTorrent (it includes a comprehensive BitTorrent Search function.) The Intrusion Prevention package can protect your home network in various ways. It also gives detailed reports and analysis, including the ability to pinpoint on a world map where detected threats are coming from.

By the way, since the router doesn’t have a lot of built-in storage space, you need a USB external hard drive or an SD card (the router has two USB ports and one SD card slot) before you can install most of the packages. Once you’ve given it some extra storage space, the router will also work as a robust network storage server, very similar to a dedicated NAS server from Synology such as the DS416 Play. That makes it easy to share or stream data to multiple devices.

One other cool thing about those packages: some, like the Download Station or the Media Server, include their own mobile app (for iOS or Android) so that you can manage tasks on or stream media to your mobile device even when you’re out and about. And you can choose to use an account with Synology for convenience’s sake or create your own remote access to the router so you can use these mobile apps without the router being connected to Synology at all.

Stellar built-in features

Optional extra packages aside, the RT2600AC is great straight out of the box thanks to a strong slate of built-in features and settings. For example, the web-filtering, which is part of the Parental Control feature, can block internet access based on categories (adult, social media, advertising and so on) or block specific domains. You can set the block to work manually or schedule it to work at specific times. All of it worked extremely well when I tested it out.

In fact, the router is one of very few I’ve known that can block secure HTTPS sites (like Facebook or YouTube). Most other routers can’t, including my other favorite, the Asus RT-AC88U. And when I chose to block advertising to my computer, I could surf the web on it ad-free.

Another useful, comprehensive feature is the Traffic Control that allows you to manage and monitor internet bandwidth. Again, you also get the detailed analysis and reports on the network’s online activities.

Needless to say, the RT2600AC also allows for deep customization of your Wi-Fi network and other common network settings. It has all the settings you’d need, such as port forwarding, Dynamic DNS, MAC filtering and so on. If it’s something you’d want from a home router, the RT2600AC has it and likely more.

Dual-WAN-ready but only four LAN ports

There’s one thing I wish it had more of, however: the network ports. The RT2600AC has the usual one WAN (internet) port to connect to your modem and four LAN ports for wired clients. It also lets you turn one of the LAN ports into a second WAN port in case you want to use two broadband services at the same time. Most people don’t need this but if you want to either maintain the internet speed during heavy usage or make sure you’ll be online all the time, this is a great feature to have. Just know that when you use it, you’ll have just three LAN ports left for wired clients, before you need to resort to a switch to add more ports.

The reason the number of ports is an issue for me is because the Asus RT-AC88U, which also features Dual-WAN, has eight LAN ports. It also has link aggregation, meaning it can combine two LAN ports into a single superfast connection. The RT2600AC can’t do that, which is a bit disappointing given that servers, including NAS servers, are the devices that benefit the most from link aggregation. Hopefully, Synology adds the feature via firmware update.

Google Daydream View review

Google Daydream View review

The Google’s new Pixel handset is the first and only Daydream-ready phone. It has finally set the company’s real VR plans in motion.

The newest headset, Google Daydream View shows that the company is getting serious about virtual reality. Clay Bavor, Google’s head of VR, notes that it’s far lighter than other devices – specifically 30% – and is able to work with both the 5-inch and 5.5-inch Pixel smartphones. There’s also a bevy of other Android handsets on the way that will be able to work with View.

It’s still more expensive than Google Cardboard but it’s cheaper than the $99 Samsung Gear VR. That’s of course not counting the price of the smartphone Daydream View needs to actually run.

So how does it actually fare? Well, we’ve been using the Cardboard sequel for a while now and it’s become clear that Google’s view of VR is on the right track.

Google Daydream View: Design

There’s no doubt that Daydream View is immediately eye-catching. It just looks so damn soft and oddly appealing, like a comfy pair of sweatpants. It’s not the nicest sounding comparison, but every time I’ve mentioned the analogy to someone, their eyes light up in agreement.

Simply put, Daydream View’s cloth design is inviting and cosy, invoking the same feeling you’d get from lazing about without a care because it hides the tech we’ve come to associate with hard plastics and metals – and so far, this look is unlike any other VR mobile headset out there. Sure, Oculus Rift is swathed in stretchy cloth materials but with View, there are no wires, it’s far smaller and of course, portable.

Google Daydream View review

This alone is a combination that would entice anyone interested in trying out VR but coupled with the slate gray cloth (or the “crimson” and “snow” versions coming later), the Daydream View makes an undeniably attractive package.

Now, it’s not without the hard plastics. The Pixel phone sits right on top of an inner plastic tray that holds it in place. Then there are the glass lenses and, of course, the plastic controller that comes with every headset.

There are no buttons and the front closes with an elastic clasp that has a pull tab for easy access. I can see this getting worn down over time with all the stretching, but for now it’s stayed sturdy.

Audio is solely dependent on the headphones or earbuds that you have on hand – this is one thing Google didn’t pack into the box. Whatever device you use should work fine with View: there’s a spatial audio engine built into the Google VR SDK (software developer’s kit) which according to Google has been “highly optimised for mobile VR.” That means if a developer has taken advantage of the engine, there should be good spatial sound to keep you immersed in Daydream’s VR experiences.

Google Daydream View: Comfort

The View has one adjustable band that goes around your head. There’s some soft rubber on the inner portion of the strap to help the headset stay in place, but the plastic sliders often loosen during usage causing the headset to slowly slide forward. It was also hard to tighten them back up with the View still on the head, meaning I’d have to take it off, readjust and repeat.

This was both a good and bad thing; I usually don’t have to readjust headsets because I’m pretty much done with using them after a few hours. With Daydream View, I’d use it for longer periods of time and need to fix the band. So, it’s annoying, but it also means the headset is really comfortable and can be worn for longer than just a few hours.

What also helps with comfort is the fact that I don’t need to take my glasses off. The Gear VR has a diopter allowing me to see, but even then it’s still a little blurry. Somehow the Daydream View manages to fit large framed glasses into the viewer while maintaining a really small form factor.

Google Daydream View review

Most of the weight sits on the forehead. The face padding is extra squishy as well so you hardly feel the headset. My initial experience had a rather large nose gap similar to the one on the Rift. However during the review process, it was barely there. With next to no light bleed, the experiences were much better and more immersive. I think because my demo was quick and dirty, there was little time to fully adjust the headset properly on my face. At home, I was able to find a good level of comfort without worrying about the next person in line.

Google Daydream View: Performance and display

Using the headset is ridiculously simple. To get Daydream up and running, you just need to place the Pixel into the headset. The tray has little capacitative nubs that help detect where the screen should be centred while an NFC chip (also built into the tray) starts up the app.

It’s far easier than inserting a Samsung phone into Gear VR, but there have been a few moments where the app didn’t start immediately. I’d have to pick the phone up and place it down again for the NFC to register. Regardless, it’s a painless process and overall, a quick fix.

When I first tried out Daydream View there was a moment of lag, but I haven’t seen anything similar since. I also noted that the field of view wasn’t great but I’ve come to realise that it’s dependent on the device you’re using. Specifically, the 5-inch Pixel versus the 5.5-inch Pixel XL each provided a distinct viewing experience.

Google Daydream View review

The smaller Pixel presents noticeable black bars on the outer portion of the screen, whereas on the XL, it’s practically invisible. The AMOLED screens themselves are fantastic and absolutely brilliant in terms of clarity, colour spectrum and vividness. The viewing angle specs haven’t been released by Google just yet while the refresh rate and screen specs depend on the phone. For Pixel, you’re looking at 1080 x 1920 pixels (441ppi) and while the XL is 1440 x 2560 pixels (534ppi).

The difference in screen sizes means that smaller handsets won’t look as good using Daydream View since the FOV is bound to shrink, which is something to keep in mind if you plan on using a Daydream-ready phone that’s less than 5.5-inch in size.

For those on iOS devices, it’s unlikely Google will pull a Cardboard again and let iPhones get in on the Daydream fun. It makes sense considering the platform is heavily geared towards Android, but like the Gear VR, this means it’s losing out on a hefty portion of people who want a good mobile VR headset.

Google Daydream View review

Google Daydream View: Controller

The Daydream View controller is larger than a Rift remote and smaller than a Wiimote, which makes sense since it can fit inside the View headset when you’re done using it.

This makes it as portable and easy to use as the View headset. It also means you don’t have to hold your hand up to your head for controls, or buy an additional third-party device.

The View controller fits comfortably in my small palm and is so light I’m not surprised Bavor dropped it during the Pixel announcement. The controller is also pretty durable, as I’ve dropped it several times myself and haven’t seen a single scratch, dent or malfunction after picking it up.

There are only five buttons including a trackpad that doubles as a button. Below the trackpad, you’ll find an app button, which can show menus, pause, go back or change modes depending on the app itself. Then there’s the home button below, which returns you to the Daydream View’s home screen or re-centres your view. Lastly, you can find the volume up and down buttons on the right side of the controller.

Google Daydream View review

There’s also a USB-C port on the very bottom – which conveniently is the same as the Pixel’s charger – to juice up the device. Google says it has a 12-hour battery life and so far that matches up with my experience. A status light towards the bottom of the controller flashes three times after pressing the home button lets you know if it needs recharging.

For the most part, the tracking has also been surprisingly good. Various games involve aiming with it or using it to move around, and so far the controller has successfully accomplished these actions.

The only thing that’s been annoying is the constant re-centreing. Just like the major headsets where you can re-centre the view, Daydream View lets you re-centre the controller and headset. There were moments in-game or in the menu where the controller’s dot would wander off with a mind of its own.

I expected to re-centre the controller a few times after using an app or moving around physically, but on more than one occasion it would randomly drift and end up pointing in another direction (this was also long before I dropped the controller).

Google Daydream View: Apps and battery

The Daydream View home looks a lot like Oculus Home, which you may have seen on Gear VR or Oculus Rift. That’s not a bad thing, especially since the interface is intuitive and familiar. A simple swipe or a tap on an arrow with the controller’s trackpad lets you navigate the library and Google Play Store menus swiftly. From the Play Store, you can download and install apps and games immediately.

There are 25 games and apps to try right now, and like all the other platforms there will be plenty more very soon. Like Sony with PlayStation VR, Google is promising 50 experiences by the end of the year. I was able to try a decent amount on Daydream View and on the whole, came away impressed.

The usual Google repertoire is always fun to use in VR, with YouTube, Google Street View, Play Movies, Photos and Arts & Culture being the ones available. With the exception of Play Movies, the apps have all been used on Cardboard before so they’re not exactly earth-shattering options.

However Google has revamped YouTube a bit and made it much more VR friendly. You get to watch all your favorite 360-degree channels along with non-VR in 2D videos. There’s even a Google Assistant voice search if you want to go hands free.

On the game side of things, I was able to try Hunter’s Gate, Claro, Wonderglade and VR Karts (among others) all of which provided a well rounded experience that showcased just how much Daydream View can do.

Hunter’s Gate is a dungeon crawler that has you playing one of two characters who automatically shoots at the demons you’re aiming at. This game was able to show off the controller’s ability to aim as well as move the character around with the trackpad. It takes a minute to adjust and then it’s a breeze. You can change the aiming mechanism to use your head as well, which has been a staple for many VR shooters.

Claro is a lovely puzzler that isn’t too difficult and lets you relax a bit while moving the sun around with the controller in order to help a tree grow. Wonderglade has four carnival-esque mini games that again use the controller’s aim along with its internal sensors. VR Karts does the same thing and has you turn the controller so you’re using both hands. From there, you’re able to test out your racing abilities by tilting the controller to hug the turns.

Not including download times for games and updates for the various apps, and the Pixel itself, I was able to get around four hours of usage from Daydream View. If sitting by an outlet or using a portable charger, you can even keep the Pixel handset battery going since the charge port remains open and easily accessible.

Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200

Netgear nighthawk x10

Netgear released a new generation of wireless ADrouter – the Nighthawk X10 wireless AD7200 multi band router delivering total bandwidth of up to 7200Mbps with three distinct bands. It was powered by high end 1.7GHz dual core processor.

What this product does

You’ll be surprised how the wifi technology is evolving so fast in wireless AD based router if you haven’t taste how the speed of wireless AC router when your current aging wifi router is still based on wireless G or wireless N150 technology. Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 and TP-link Talon AD7200 are both new generation of wireless routers based on the next generation of wireless 802.11AD technology.

Multi band

Nighthawk X10 is designed with the three distinct bands, like the most crowded 2.4GHz band with speed up to 800Mbps, the clean 5GHz band with the speed up to 1733Mbps and the high frequency 60GHz band.

We know that the current AC5300 routers such as Linksys EA9500 and Netgear R8500 and AC3200 routers such as TP-link Archer C3200 or Linksys EA9200, they are also three band routers, the 2.4GHz band and two separate 5GHz bands.

Up to 4600Mbps @60GHz

Routers based on wireless AD technology delivers ultra fast wifi speeds up to 4600Mbps in 60GHz band, high frequency band. The bad thing is that this 60GHz band cannot penetrate the wall, it must be in a line of sight between the router and the wifi compatible clients. So far, there are couple of clients that work in 60GHz band such as new Acer TMP648 laptop.

Aggregation Ethernet ports

Like the previous AC5300 model – the Netgear Nighthawk X8, Netgear Nighthawk X10 is also equipped with dual aggregation port to deliver 2Gbps data rate throughput. This is ideal for connecting to something like high speed NAS storage.

netgear nighthawk x10

Main features

  • Next generation of wireless AD7200 technology based on 802.11ad, 802.11ac
  • Multi band router speeds up to 4600Mbps @60GHz; up to 1733Mbps @5GHz and up to 800Mbps @2.4GHz band
  • Plex media server and Amazon drive cloud backup
  • Beamforming for 2.4GHz and 5GHz band
  • MU-MIMO ready
  • ReadyCloud and ReadyShare vault
  • 6x Gigabit LAN ports and 1x Gigabit WAN port
  • Dual port aggregation
  • Powered by 1.7GHz dual core processor with 512Mbps NAND Flash and 1GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports

Many people are wondering that this model of wireless AD-based router is beneficial at a moment particularly with the 60GHz band, at least lack of the wireless client adapter based on wireless AD standard and the shortage of the range distance.

Comparison X10 Vs Talon

Talon AD7200 was introduced and released earlier than Nighthawk X10, and generally the product that comes later is featured richer than the first model. X10 is designed with richer features than Talon as you can see from the following spec comparison table.

Antennas

Talon model is similar like its TP-link Archer C5400 wireless AC5300 model, designed with eight external antennas. On the other hand, Nighthawk X10 is designed with 4x active external antennas like its predecessor model Nighthawk X8 to deliver more powerful signal strength and longer distance coverage.

Processor

Nighthawk X10 is powered by high speed 1.7GHz dual core processor as opposed to only 1.4GHz dual core processor in Talon. As comparison, you can find Linksys WRT AC3200 is powered by the fastest dual core processor – 1.8GHz dual core processor for its DD-WRT firmware router, the fastest dual band router in the market today.

Take a look at the following comparison table for easy to read spec comparison between the routers.

Table 1 Netgear Nighthawk X10 Vs TP-link Talon AD7200

Nighthawk X10 Talon AD7200
Wifi technology Wireless 802.11ad/ac Wireless 802.11ad/ac
Wifi speeds 4600Mbps @60GHz; 1733Mbps @5GHz and 800Mbps @2.4GHz 4600Mbps @60GHz; 1733Mbps @5GHz and 800Mbps @2.4GHz
Beamforming technology Yes Yes
MU-MIMO Yes Yes
Antenna 4x active external antenna4x internal antennas 8 external antennas, 1 internal antenna
Ethernet Ports 6x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports,1 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Port

Dual Gigabit Ethernet port aggregation

4 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports,1 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Port
USB Ports 2x USB 3.0 ports 2x USB 3.0 ports
Processor 1.7GHz dual core processor 1.4GHz dual core processor
Price $499.99 $349.95

 

Summary

Netgear Nighthawk X10 is new multi band router based on next generation wireless AD technology delivering total bandwidth of up to 7200Mbps for its three distinct bands. Compared with Talon AD7200, Nighthawk is more superior regarding the processor speed, the active antenna and dual aggregation Gigabit Ethernet ports.

TP-Link AP500 Home Wireless AC Access Point

tplink ap500

TP-link  releases AP500 wireless AC1900 Access Point, so you can use to upgrade your legacy wireless N network with high speed wireless AC1900 network in homes, ideal for high speed 4K video streaming or smooth online gaming in home or any other bandwidth intensive application tasks.

Why Access Point

Many people prefer a wireless cable modem gateway which is a single compact all-in-one device that integrates wireless router with built-in cable modem device to provide wifi network in homes or small offices. Such as high speed Arris Surfboard SBG7580AC cable modem with wifi – the fastest 32/8 DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem with wireless AC1750 router, Arris Surfboard SBG6700 cable modem wifi,  or entry level TP-link TC-W7960 cable modem gateway. The first two products are based on wireless AC technology, while TC-W7960 is still based on wireless N300.

Upgrade options

A single device cable modem with wifi router is easy to manage, easy to install and save space on your table no clutter of devices. However, when you require to upgrade the wifi speed you have to replace the whole thing. For example, with TP-link TC-W7960 which is based on wireless N300 technology your upgrade options are replacing the whole thing or adding a wireless AC access point connected to the modem gateway.

AP500

TP-link AP500 is wireless AC 1900 access point you can add to your cable modem gateway to provide high speed wireless AC1900 network instead of replacing your gateway. AP500 comes with gigabit Ethernet port you can connect to Ethernet port of your modem gateway or connect to your Ethernet switch.

AP500 wireless ac access point delivers dual band speeds of up to 1300Mbps @5GHz band and up to 600Mbps @2.4GHz band simultaneously. It supports Beamforming technology for targeted wifi clients with solid wifi signal while roaming within the network.

To get the benefit of beamforming technology your wireless adapters should support Beamforming technology too. There are some models of wireless AC USB adapters supports Beamforming for example D-link DWA-192 and Edimax EW-7833 USB adapter.

tplink ap500

TP-link AP500

Main features

  • Based on wireless AC1900 dual band
  • Speeds up to 1600Mbps @5GHz band and up to 600Mbps @2.4GHz band
  • 3x dual band detachable external antennas
  • Ready with beamforming technology
  • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Can be configured as wireless AP, repeater/ bridge, client, multi SSID
  • Powered by 1GHz dual core processor

TP-link AP500 wireless AC1900 access point can be configured in multiple mode of operations including AP mode when you connect it to the router LAN port via UTP network cable or you can configure it as wireless repeater, wireless client or multi SSID mode.

This product is ideal for homes, or small home office with broadband internet connection including cable, DSL and fiber optic services. For businesses, this product might not very effective. TP-link offers business class wireless access point with its EAP series either N or AC based access point.

 

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE

If you need to build a wireless network for your offices to share broadband internet connection, adding home wireless ac access point might not be appropriate particularly when you are planning to expand more clients in line with growing of your business. Instead of adding TP-link AP500 home wireless ac access point connecting to the modem gateway, adding business class wireless ac access point is a better idea.

ubiquiti uap-pro series

Ubiquiti UAP series

Ubiquity UAP-AC-LITE is one of most popular business class AP you can start from a single device and you can add two, three and up to thousands AP devices in line with the expanding of your business. The good thing is that you can control all of them from a single unified management system.

Main features

  • Dual band 802.11ac AP
  • 2×2 MIMO technology with 2x 3dBi dual band antennas
  • 4 SSIDs each band
  • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Unifi non-dedicated software controller in a local computer, private cloud or public cloud
  • Unlimited scalability, start from one device to unlimited AP devices
  • POE supports

The price each of the device is not costly, it’s around $80 each. It is worth of adding one Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE to build a wireless network in your office. Invest your time by hassle of running UTP network cable from the router to each of the wireless ac access point. When the requirement of adding more AP devices exists, you can easily add more devices and manage them from a single computer anywhere. When you expand to remote sites, you still can manage in a single management system anywhere.

 Summary

TP-link AP500 is one of high performance wireless AC access point for homes with dual band simultaneously with speeds of up to 1300Mbps @5GHz and up to 600Mbps @2.4GHz. To start for a small office, adding Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE is ideal solution for businesses.

Hands on: Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN review

Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN

Our Early Verdict

To build a VPN service with a customisable router appears to be a no-brainer as they both target the same audience and in this particular case, the WRT 1200AC and ExpressVPN make a great pair.

Like pretty much every other piece of computing hardware, routers have reached a maturation peak with very little disruptive innovation now happening.

Some vendors are trying new things to differentiate themselves from the rest of the competition, often by offering fine-tuned, bespoke services.

 Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN

Certainly, it came as a surprise when one VPN provider, ExpressVPN, offered to send us the Linksys WRT 1200AC router with its services baked in by way of a customised firmware.

Note that in our case, the router was already preconfigured, but owners of the WRT 1200AC or the WRT 1900AC/S (the only two Linksys routers that support the native ExpressVPN option) will be able to install this particular firmware.

A couple of points here: changing the firmware of your router is not for the faint hearted and there’s a small chance that you could brick (break) your device during the process.

Doing so with a third-party firmware will invalidate your warranty although you can always go back to the original Linksys firmware.

ExpressVPN told us that, while this is the case, Linksys has done a good job to make this device a lot more reliable than anything else on the market.

Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN

Speaking of the WRT 1200AC, this is a relatively mature device that was launched well over a year ago; although the one that was sent to us is the v2 incarnation.

You can nab it for as little as £102 (around $125, AU$165) including delivery from online retailer Ballicom

Those who have used the now legendary WRT 54xx series will recognise the device’s blue-black colour scheme. The WRT 1200AC is the heir to that line with some pretty bold lines and a futuristic design.

There are plenty of holes in its enclosure, a sign that the hardware inside may well get warm under near-constant use. As expected, it sits comfortably on four big plastic feet and carries two detachable antennas at the back.

As with the vast majority of routers on the market, there are plenty of status lights up front (11 in all), a lot of ports at the back, and all the admin details about the router are on its base.

Overall, the 1200AC has a very solid feel to it with an air of nostalgia; it won’t wobble or fall off a flat surface thanks to a low centre of gravity.

The original router had 256MB of RAM while the new version 2 we evaluated doubles that to 512MB. There’s still a Marvel 88F6820 ARM system-on-chip at its heart, a dual-core model clocked at 1.3GHz. It has a theoretical maximum transfer rate of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 900Mbps on 5GHz; you can of course use both at the same time, depending on your devices.

Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN

Note that the WRT 1200AC incorporates beam forming technology which means that it can focus its wireless signals on devices connected to it.

At the back of the router you’ll find a switch, a reset button, a power connector, one USB 3.0 port, one eSATA/USB 2.0 connector and four Gigabit Ethernet ports.

You must have an ExpressVPN subscription for the VPN to work, something that can cost you as little as $99.99 (around £80, AU$135) for a year. You’ll need to enter your 23-digit activation code to use the router, and the VPN service will work on all the devices connected to it.

You will not need a subscription to use the router if you do not plan to use the VPN service, but presumably if you’re buying this product, you’re doing so for the bundled VPN. Still, if you change your mind down the line, the hardware will still work without the subscription.

Linksys also encourages you to register for its free Smart Wi-Fi service which allows you to monitor and manage your router using a mobile app from anywhere in the world. Very useful if you want to reset or troubleshoot when you’re not physically near the device.

The router’s user interface is well laid-out with some clear options that even include a speed test feature, one which connects with the popular Speednet service. You can configure the modem to run on OpenWRT or DD-WRT, two popular alternative router operating systems.

Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN

This, however, would require you to get rid of the ExpressVPN firmware (which is itself a customised version of OpenWRT).

While ExpressVPN usually enforces a limit of three simultaneous connections per account, that limit doesn’t hold for this router, and as we mentioned earlier, you can connect as many devices as your broadband can support, a real boon for households with loads of devices.

It’s worth noting that the only type of split tunnelling support is VPN (single location) or No VPN. Individual devices cannot have individual servers.

Users can select which devices they want to connect through the VPN, and which devices they do not want to be protected.

Connecting the router to our existing Virgin Media Superhub 2ac directly (without switching on the router mode) worked, with the WRT 1200AC consistently providing a better browsing experience than Virgin Media’s bundled router.

Early verdict

There are two parts to this verdict. The first pertains to the router itself which is a decent model that delivers a strong showing in terms of transfer rate and stability.

The user interface and the free mobile app are a welcome change from what you usually get with the router bundled with your broadband line. Sure, it doesn’t have features like MU-MIMO or triple band but then again, it is a £102 (around $125, AU$165) router and one of the cheaper AC1200 models.

And secondly, as for the ExpressVPN option, it is unfortunately a flawed one as it invalidates the hardware’s warranty (as confirmed by Linksys). If you’re happy to take this risk, there’s one incentive and that’s the fact that everything is done transparently.

Experienced users can always install VPN clients on their own devices and swap between providers as they see fit, either because features have evolved or they feel they could get better value-for-money elsewhere.

Linksys WRT AC3200 Three Stream 160Mhz Technology

Linksys WRT AC3200 dual band router

Recently,Linksys introduces new wireless two band router WRT AC3200 with three stream 160 technology delivering speeds up to 2600Mbps @5GHz band and up to 600Mbps @2.4GHz band. This product is the fastest two band router with open-source firmware DD-WRT and OpenWrt.

What this product does

The first generation of wireless three band routers (wireless AC3200 routers such as Linksys EA9200 router or TP-link Archer AC3200) deliver total bandwidth of up to 3200Mbps and most people perception when they notice AC3200 router would be this model of three band router. People might be familiar with wireless AC3100 router as the two band AC router such as Asus RT-AC88 AC3100 router.

3x stream 160

Now when you notice that Linksys WRT-AC3200 router is the first generation of three band AC3200 router is wrong. WRT-AC3200 is a two band router with new three stream 160 technology delivering speeds of up to 2600Mbps @5GHz band and up to 600Mbps @2.4GHz band.

The first AC flagship in DD-WRT Open source firmware i.e. Linksys WRT 1900AC and Linksys WRT 1900ACS which both use the same three stream of 80MHz delivering speed up to 3x433Mbps (1300Mbps) @5GHz band, the latest Linksys WRT-AC3200 uses new three stream 160Mhz delivering speed up to 3x867Mbps (2.6Gbps). Three stream 160 technology provides bandwidth twice as much as traditional three stream 80Mhz technology.

Fastest router @5GHz

With speed of 2600Mbps @5GHz band, Linksys WRT AC3200 router will be the fastest router @5GHz band so far. You can mention that wireless AC5400 routers such as Linksys EA9500 AC5400 router, or TP-link Archer C5400 deliver speed of 2166Mbps @5GHz band. And even Talon AD7200 delivers speed of 1700Mbps @5GHz band, however Talon introduces new 60GHz band with speed of 4600Mbps if the client is at line of sight with the router, no obstacles.

In a nutshell, Linksys WRT AC3200 router is the fastest router @5GHz band so far.

linksys wrt ac3200

Linksys WRT AC3200 dual band router

Highlights

  • Dual band wireless router with three stream 160 technology
  • MU-MIMO for fast connection to multiple devices concurrently
  • 4x dual band external antennas
  • DD-WRT and OpenWRT open source firmware for flexible customizable
  • Smart-Wifi app for easy network management via your mobile devices
  • Powered by high performance 1.8GHz dual core processor with 256MB flash and 512MB RAM
  • Gigabit Ethernet ports for 4x LAN and 1x WAN ports
  • 1x USB 3.0 port and 1x combo USB 2.0 / eSATA

 

Will this product be successful in the market and make users change their mind to choose this fastest router instead of wireless AC3200 or AC5400 three band routers? We’ll see.

Comparison

Lots of most popular wireless router with high customer rating in the market including Netgear Nighthawk X6 in AC3200 network segment and Asus RT-AC5300 router you may compare with Linksys WRT AC3200 router.

Take a look at the following spec comparison tables. Table 1 shows you spec comparison between Linksys WRT AC3200 and Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 router. while table 2 shows you spec comparison between Linksys WRT AC3200 and Asus RT-AC5300 router.

Wifi technology

All the three routers represent different wifi technologies. Linksys WRT AC3200 router is designed with the three stream 160Mhz technology to produce the fastest wifi speed @5GHz band. Nighthawk X6 represents three band router with three stream 80Mhz technology. While Asus RT-AC5300 router represents three band routers with four stream technology and Broadcom NitroQAMTM technology to boost the speeds.

The other features are general something like number of LAN gigabit ports, USB ports, Beamforming and still more.

Table 1 Linksys WRT AC3200 Vs Nighthawk X6

Linksys WRT AC3200 Nighthawk X6
Wifi technology AC3200 dual band3 stream 160Mhz technology AC3200 three band3 stream 80Mhz technology
# bands Dual band2.4GHz band; 5GHz band Three band2.4GHz band; 5GHz band-1; 5GHz-band-2
Speeds 2600Mbps @5GHz600Mbps @2.4GHz 2x 1300Mbps @ 5GHz band-1 and band-2600Mbps @2.4GHz
MU-MIMO Yes No
Beamforming Yes Yes
Open source DD-WRTOpen WRT N/A
Ethernet Ports 1x Gigabit WAN port4x Gigabit LAN ports 1x Gigabit WAN port4x Gigabit LAN ports
USB Ports 1x USB 3.0 port1x USB 2.0 / eSATA combo 1x USB 3.0 port1x USB 2.0 port
Processor 1.8GHz dual core processor256MB Flash and 512MB of RAM Memory 1GHz dual core processor
Price (Oct 2016 in Amazon) $279.99 $254.90

 

Table 1 Linksys WRT AC3200 Vs Asus RT-AC5300

Linksys WRT AC3200 Asus RT-AC5300
Wifi technology AC3200 dual band3 stream 160Mhz technology AC5300 three band4×4 Broadcom NitroQAMTM technology
# bands Dual band2.4GHz band; 5GHz band Three band2.4GHz band; 5GHz band-1; 5GHz-band-2
Speeds 2600Mbps @5GHz600Mbps @2.4GHz 2x 2167Mbps @ 5GHz band-1 and band-21000Mbps @2.4GHz
MU-MIMO Yes Yes, with Smart Connect technology
Beamforming Yes Yes
Open source DD-WRTOpen WRT N/A
Ethernet Ports 1x Gigabit WAN port4x Gigabit LAN ports 1x Gigabit WAN port4x Gigabit LAN ports
USB Ports 1x USB 3.0 port1x USB 2.0 / eSATA combo 1x USB 3.0 port1x USB 2.0 port
Processor 1.8GHz dual core processor256MB Flash and 512MB of RAM Memory 1.4GHz dual core processor128MB Flash and 512MB of RAM Memory
Price (Oct 2016 in Amazon) $279.99 $369.90

 

Summary

Linksys WRT AC3200 is the fastest dual band router with three stream 160MHz technology to deliver the fastest 2600Mbps speed @5GHz band. This router is designed with open source DD-WRT firmware.

Review: Glam Hobby Ourlink Mini Wireless USB 802.11ac Adapter

Glam Hobby Ourlink Mini Wireless USB 802.11ac Adapter

The Glam Hobby ourlink is dual band and has a rated speed up to 1200Mbps. (867Mbps at 5GHz, and 300Mbps at 2.4GHz.)

It also is a USB 3.0 so no need to worry about USB 2.0 bottlenecking.

Ther are a dongle, instructions, and a disk with drivers in the box.
Glam Hobby Ourlink Mini Wireless USB 802.11ac Adapter

The Ourlink is compatible with Windows XP, 7, and 10. We decided to do our testing on Windows 10.

Plugging in the dongle Windows 10 found it without having to install the drivers with the correct chipset. We installed the latest drivers to be sure.
device manager driver details
Always install the drivers since the wrong driver can greatly reduce a adapters speed and reliability.

2.4Ghz Wireless-N Test
The first test we did was on the 2.4Ghz Wireless-N side of the dongle. The router is a Trendnet 80211ac router placed 10 feet away with a clear line of site.

Using Speedtest.net it maxes out our ISP at 48Mbps down, and 5Mbps Up.
2-4 ghz speed test

The next test of the 2.4 GHz was computer-to-computer on our internal network. The computers didn’t have SSD drives so we copied to a USB 3.0 USB flash drive.

In this test it ran at a solid 98MBps download speed.
2-4 ghz speed test sd card

5 GHz Wireless-AC Test
On the 5 GHz side we couldn’t get it to show up as a Wireless-AC dongle and it stayed as a Wireless-N.

We reinstalled the driver and restarted the computer and router and it still stayed on Wireless-N. We are still doing test on this to be sure it is not our Windows 10 machines or 802.11ac router.

The speed was 98Mbps on our internal network computer-to-computer.
5 ghz side speed test

Summary
The Glam Hobby Ourlink mini wireless USB adapter ran at almost a 100Mbps down in our test which is good for such a small dongle.

We did have problems connecting the 5GHz side to show up as 802.11ac unit. We are still testing it out to see if it is in our equipment or not.

For the price it is a solid WiFi dongle and would be a good replacement for a broken laptops internal WiFi card or even as an upgrade.

What is Google Wifi? Google Wifi UK release date, price, features and specifications

google wifi

If you’ve ever played around with Powerline and Wi-Fi extenders in an effort to make your wireless signal reach all the way through your home, new Google Wifi is the product for you. Here we explain what is Google Wifi and why you want it, plus outline the Google Wifi UK release date, price, features and specifications.

google wifi
What is Google Wifi? Google Wifi features

Built on the strengths of OnHub, Google Wifi is in essence a series of mini wireless routers that all talk to each other and can be scattered across the home to ensure a strong and fast wireless signal in every room.

Google designed Wifi to be able to support multiple devices at once, and to withstand high-bandwidth activities such as streaming video and gaming.

You can buy Google Wifi points in packs of one or three, enabling you to keep adding to your setup if you have a large home. Google recommends using one point in a small house or flat measuring between 500- and 1500 square feet, two in a medium house measuring between 1500- and 3000 square feet, and three in a large home between 3000- and 4500 square feet.

Google Wifi uses mesh Wi-Fi, with each Google Wifi point creating a high-powered connection and able to determine the best path for your data. Other alternatives include Powerline, which uses the electrical wiring in your home to create a simple but fast, wired network that connects adapters in rooms away from your Internet router; see our Best Powerline Adapter round up and What is Powerline feature.

google wifi

If you want manual options they are available through a companion app for Android and iOS, but for those who don’t Network Assist technology takes the hard work out of optimising your router basically by doing it for you. It will ensure your Wi-Fi is operating on the clearest channel, and it will continue to optimise your Wi-Fi no matter which room of the house you are in. Network Assist can even tell you where best to place a Google Wifi point or advise you to adjust your broadband tariff.

A cool feature of Google Wifi is that at any point you can pause the Wi-Fi connection on a given connected device, such as the kids’ tablets when you want them to come down for dinner. You can also see how much bandwidth these devices are using and prioritise particular devices over others.

Google Wifi supports wireless encryption, verified boot and auto updates, keeping security and user privacy as high priorities.
Google Wifi UK release date, price: When is Google Wifi coming out?

The Google Wifi UK release date has not yet been confirmed, though we were told at the launch that Google hoped it would be coming soon. In the US Google Wifi is available to pre-order from November, and will cost $129 for a single pack and $299 for a pack of three.

google wifi

When available, you’ll be able to pre-order Google Wifi here.

We discussed the Google event right after it happened on our podcast. Listen here:

Google Wifi specifications Connectivity

• AC1200 2×2 Wave 2 Wi-Fi

• Expandable mesh Wi-Fi

• Simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz) supporting 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

• TX Beamforming

• Bluetooth Smart Ready

• 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports per point (can be configured as WAN or LAN)
Security

• WPA2-PSK

• Automatic security updates

• Infineon SLB 9615 trusted platform module

Google Wifi Core hardware

• 710MHz Quad-core processor

• 512MB DDR3L RAM

• 4GB eMMC flash storage

• 15W power adaptor
Device

• White plastic build

• 106.12×68.75mm

• 340g

Arris Surfboard SBG7580AC Cable Modem with Wifi

Arris Surfboard SBG7580AC

Surfboard SBG7580AC is the first cable modem with wifi delivering high internet speed of up to 1400Mbps downstream.

32/8 channel bonding

As we know that Arris has released Surfboard SB6190 the fastest DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem with 32x channel bonding downstream speed up to 1.4Gbps. Surfboard SBG7580AC is the wifi router with built-in the fastest cable modem today.

There is always a question why purchasing a high speed of up to 1400Mbps cable modem when there is no existing broadband cable providers deliver internet service plan with high speed up to 1Gbps. Typically most cable providers with the ultimate plan can be delivered to the subscriber’s premises in its best when the modem used by the customer is DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem with 16/4 channel bonding or higher such as TP-link TC7620 and Linksys CM3024. Technology evolves very fast, probably in a short time most ISPs will upgrade their infrastructure and ready for delivering higher internet  speed to the customers and your cable modem is ready for that. Surfboard SBG7580AC is ready for the future of the highest speed internet package deliver by the ISPs.

Cable modem with wifi

Traditionally building wifi network in home you require separate modem and wireless router. Surfboard SBG7580 is an all-in-one product that integrates the high speed DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem and wireless router in a single compact device. This product comes with wireless AC1750 technology, ideal for home users that demand simplicity in building wifi network. Arris should’ve upgraded the wifi technology to the upper level something like wireless dual band AC2400 or higher to lift the whole performance of this product including longer range.

Arris Surfboard SBG7580AC

Arris Surfboard SBG7580AC

When the wifi signal doesn’t penetrate up to the farthest corner of the house you just add one of best wireless range extender such as wall-plug model Netgear EX7300 or desktop model Linksys RE6500HG range extender. All models of range extender are mostly universal that can work with any wireless gateway including this Arris Surfboard SBG7580.

Comparison

Currently there are few models of wireless cable modem router combo available in the market including most popular Surfboard SBG6900, Netgear Nighthawk C7000 and soon Linksys release new modem gateway Linksys CG7500 wireless AC1900 cable modem router.

To see how they all the three modem router combo compared, take a look at the following two comparison tables. Table 1 shows you spec comparison between Arris Surfboard SBG7580AC and Netgear Nighthawk C7000, and table 2 shows you spec comparison between SBG7580 and Linksys CG7500.

Modem

See that Surfboard offers the fastest speed DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, the most number of downstream channel bonding delivering technically internet speed up to 1400Mbps. Currently Arris has Surfboard SB6190 as the fastest cable modem with 32x channel bonding downstream.

Wifi

With the built-in fastest modem, unfortunately the wifi module is not lifted to the upper level such as based on wireless AC1900 at least like those competing products C7000 and CG7500. However, if you compare the prices Surfboard SBG7580 is still more economical than Linksys.

All other features look like the same including the number of Ethernet ports. However, Linksys offers only one gigabit Ethernet LAN port and too sad no USB port is available for storage or printer sharing.

Table 1 Arris Surfboard SBG7580AC Vs Netgear C7000

Surfboard SBG7580AC Netgear C7000
Built-in modem DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem
Internet speed Downstream up to 1.4Gbps

Upstream up to 262Mbps

Downstream up to 960 Mbps

Upstream up to 343 Mbps

# Channel bonding 32x Ch. downstream

8x Ch. upstream

24x Ch. downstream

8x Ch. upstream

Wifi technology Dual band AC1750 Dual band AC1900
Wifi speeds Up to 1300Mbps @5GHz band

Up to 450Mbps @2.4GHz band

Up to 1300Mbps @5GHz band

Up to 600Mbps @2.4GHz band

Beamforming Need to confirm Yes
Ethernet Ports 4x Gigabit LAN Ports 4x Gigabit LAN Ports
USB Ports 1x USB 2.0 1x USB 2.0
Processor Unspecified 1.6GHz combined processor
Price $229.99 $199.00

Table 1 Arris Surfboard SBG7580AC Vs Linksys CG7500

Surfboard SBG7580AC Linksys CG7500
Built-in modem DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem
Internet speed Downstream up to 1.4Gbps

Upstream up to 262Mbps

Downstream up to 960 Mbps

Upstream up to 240 Mbps

# Channel bonding 32x Ch. downstream

8x Ch. upstream

24x Ch. downstream

8x Ch. upstream

Wifi technology Dual band AC1750 Dual band AC1900
Wifi speeds Up to 1300Mbps @5GHz band

Up to 450Mbps @2.4GHz band

Up to 1300Mbps @5GHz band

Up to 600Mbps @2.4GHz band

Beamforming Need to confirm Yes
Ethernet Ports 4x Gigabit LAN Ports 1x Gigabit LAN Port
USB Ports 1x USB 2.0 N/A
Processor Unspecified Intel Puma 6 chipset
Price $229.99 $249.99 (MSRP)

Summary

Arris Surfboard SBG7580AC is the fastest cable modem with wifi feature today in addition of Surfboard SB6190 cable modem with 32x channel bonding downstream up to 1400Mbps internet speed. Netgear Nighthawk C7000 will be more competitive product when the price is drop significantly by time.

Netgear, is now on board with their own system: provides some big-time competition for those two companies

One of the market leaders in that space, Netgear, is now on board with their own system, which not only validates the concept provided by eero and Luma, but now provides some big-time competition for those two companies.

The devices come pre-paired together, so there’s no need to go through a setup process indicating which one is used for which scenario (the ‘router’ label connects to the broadband device, and the ‘satellite’ unit goes in the other part of the house – Netgear recommends putting it as close to the ‘center’ of the house as possible).Netgear yesterday announced its Orbi WiFi System ($399.99, available in September), a two-device system consisting of a “router” and “satellite” that customers can connect to their broadband modem (cable, DSL or other connection).

Over the past few weeks I’ve written about Wi-Fi startups eero and Luma and how their new wireless mesh systems are changing the home network wireless market with easier setup and larger coverage than compared with traditional Wi-Fi routers and range extenders.

 

Netgear Orbi router satellite NETGEAR
The Orbi system from Netgear includes a pre-paired and labeled ‘router’ and ‘satellite’ device.

 Netgear officials say this method provides for higher bandwidth (it uses about 1.7Gbps of that frequency band) than other wireless mesh systems, especially when more client devices (tablets, phones, TVs, etc.) are all competing for wireless network access.The Orbi system utilizes so-called “Tri-band Wi-Fi”, taking one of the bands within the 5 GHz frequency to provide a dedicated channel between the router device and the satellite.

Other technical details of the Orbi system include:

* Coverage up to 4,000 square feet

* A single Wi-Fi network name (SSID) for the entire network – 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands (other routers include separate names for those bands)

* Four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a single USB 2.0 port on the back of the ‘router’ and ‘satellite’ units.

* Advanced router features, including  IPv6 support, dynamic DNS, port forwarding and parental controls.

* Security support for 64/128-bit WEP, WPA/WPA-2 PSK and WPA/WPA-2 Enterprise.

Once I get my hands on a couple of the Orbi devices I’ll let you know how it compares with the eero and Luma. When I talked with Netgear about the system, I was encouraged that setup can be done via a browser in addition to the smartphone/tablet app, as old fogies like me still prefer doing setup via their notebook. In addition, the ability to tweak advanced settings is something that older guys like me (or network pros) would appreciate.