Last week, TP-Link launched a new wireless router that is the first to support the 802.11ad "WiGig" standard alongside the usual fare of wireless AC, N, B, G, and A Wi-Fi networks. Sporting eight foldable external antennas, the TP-Link Talon AD7200 will be available within the next few months.
The Talon AD7200 features four Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 3.0 ports, eight antennas, and an all black casing with status LEDs lighting up the front panel. Two Qualcomm Atheros chipsets along with an unspecified dual core processor clocked at 1.4 GHz make up the internal hardware. One Atheros chipset is solely for the new 802.11ad radio while the other handles the remaining networks.
On the wireless side of things, the router supports simultaneous operation of a 5 GHz 802.11ac, 2.4 GHz 802.11n, and a 60 GHz 802.11ad network. Throughput is rated at up to 1,733 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, 800 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz, and an impressive 4,600 Mbps on the 60 GHz band. The 802.11ad network support is the really interesting part of this router. While the 60 GHz band allows for super fast connections, it has a range of only a few meters and it needs a clear line of sight without any obstructions – the signal can't pass through a person or even a decorative plant for example. This standard was initially intended for the connected living room that would allow users to stream or copy high bit-rate media from a mobile device or computer to your television. In that respect, the 60 GHz band works well and offers up plenty of bandwidth for the job.
The router allows hand-offs from 802.11ad to 802.11ac/n/b/a (eg. when you leave the room you can still stay connected to the network and internet, just on the slower but still fast enough for Internet access network) and supports beamforming and multi-user MIMO. It is using an allegedly user friendly firmware.
It is strange to see a router supporting the standard though when a direct Wi-Fi connection between the computer and TV should do fine. It does open up some interesting possibilities though. Right now, consumer devices supporting 10 Gigabit Ethernet are extremely rare and still not very affordable. With 1 Gigabit links being commonplace for a number of years now they have started to be surpassed by 802.11ac Wi-Fi in (theoretical) throughput (though the ol' hardwired connection still holds stability and latency benefits). There is a new standard NBASE-T aimed at bridging the gap between 1 GbE and 10 GbE for home users that hits 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps but that is still very much in its infancy. If you had an 802.11ad access point in every room, or at least the places you needed high bandwidth connections, it would be a definite improvement over a Gigabit Ethernet connection for large file transfers (think a backup to a NAS or offloading pictures and video from your laptop or phone to your desktop for editing). Of course, WiGig docks are also a thing, and offer a wireless alternative to a Thunderbolt docking station.
802.11ad is not revolutionary and it has it's limitations, but it is extremely fast. I'm interested to see the benchmarks and what sort of setup this router will enable. According to Ars Technica, Lenovo and Acer have WiGig laptops and WiGig docks coming out this year, and hopefully USB 3.0 WiGig cards will come out before the end of the year. I have a need for networking speed.
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