Another home networking vendor has joined the 802.11ad Wi-Fi market – Netgear today launched the Nighthawk X10 AD7200. Aimed at users interested in faster data transfers for large file sizes, which includes 4K video streaming and VR gaming, the Nighthawk X10 is powered by a 1.7GHz Quad Core processor and Quad-Stream Wave 2 Wi-FI architecture. The router is now available for pre-order via Netgear for $499.99, with retail availability expected by the end of October.
Adding the 802.11ad feature means that users can get faster data transfers via the 60 GHz frequency (aka 60Gig), but in a limited space (about 20 feet, line of sight between the client and the router). Backward compatibility with 802.11ac (and b/g/n) means that you can still use this in your home network, but speeds will drop as you get further from the router. There are a limited amount of clients currently supporting 802.11ad (Acer has a few notebooks and docking stations), but Netgear says it’s preparing for the future as more client devices support 802.11ad for different scenarios.
One such scenario is the need for people to offload large video files from their mobile devices onto a centralized storage system, including USB-attached external drives or network-attached storage (NAS) devices. With current Wi-Fi technologies, those file transfers can take a long time. As file sizes increase (as video footage goes from 1080p to 4K, for example), the need for a faster LAN data transfer is required, hence the move to 802.11ad.
The quad-stream architecture means that users can get up to 800Mbps at the 2.4 GHz frequency, 1.7 Gbps at the 5 GHz frequency, and 4.6 Gbps at the 60 GHz frequency (add that up and you get close to the 7200 designation (or 7.2Gbps). Of course, actual speeds will be lower, based on network conditions, building materials, network overhead, traffic, etc.
The Nighthawk X10 will also support the Plex Media Server, a service/platform that organizes your media collection, including videos, photos, music, etc.. With the X10, you’ll be able to run Plex Media Server without the need for a computer. However, this will be achieved with an external hard drive attached to the X10 – Netgear says Plex server NAS support will come later. Customers who buy the X10 will receive a three-month subscription to the Plex Pass (premium subscription).
Another scenario for possible 802.11ad use cases is around VR gaming – it’s possible that future headsets could utilize the higher bandwidth to stream content from a centralized storage unit (or PC or gaming console, with 802.11ad support). In the future, this means we could start seeing VR headsets that don’t need to be tethered to a box.
Additional specs on the X10 include six Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports (finally, more than four ports!), including two Ethernet aggregation ports (if you have a NAS that has two Ethernet ports, you can use link aggregation for faster file transfers). The router also includes a 10 Gigabit fiber port that can connect to Netgear’s ReadyNAS devices (those models that include such a port). The unit also includes two USB 3.0 ports for attaching external media, which will be required for the Plex Media Server feature.
Also new to this router is the launch of the Netgear Up app, which utilizes a three-step setup process via mobile device to get users “up and running” quickly. For those users who like to tweak router settings or prefer browser-based setup, those options will also be supported. For network management, the X10 will work with the Netgear Genie app (on mobile devices and desktop browsers). Additional features include the ReadyCLOUD app, which provides private and secure remote access to the files stored on the USB-connected storage, and six months of free, unlimited Amazon Drive backup.