Wi-Fi 6 was finalized in 2019, and products have finally come to market. It is supposed to be faster, which you might notice if you have a Wi-Fi 6 file server.
Wi-Fi 6 ‘s major benefit is that it more gracefully supports many devices. At my house, there are 3 Roku TVs, 4 Macs, 4 iPads, 3 Apple Watches, 3 HomePods, 3 iPhones, and 2 Apple TVs, all fed by 150Mb/sec cable. Only two of those devices support Wi-Fi 6 today, but that number will at least triple over the next year. Then there are the devices, usually more iPhones and iPads, that friends bring over.
Even though the single modem/router from the cable company offered what systems showed to be sufficient Wi-Fi signal strength throughout a 3000 sq. ft. home, installation of the TP-Link M4 mesh made a huge difference. Drop-outs, niggling delays, streaming stutters, and other annoying first-world problems pretty much ceased. So did the $10/month bill for the inadequate modem/router after I bought a compatible modem.
Then I added the newer X60. It is compatible with the M4 – you can continue using M4 nodes for non-Wi-Fi 6 coverage, and life got a little better. Rebooting the cable modem and the M4 mesh was a monthly occurrence. Since adding the X60, we go for months without that bit of cruft clearance.
I liked the TP-Link so much I began recommending it to friends. So now I’ve installed three mesh systems.
Installs take about half an hour, much of which is taken up with adding devices to the network. I have little patience with fiddly tech, and I found the install process straightforward.
The biggest change since my first mesh is that TP-Link removed the irksome requirement for cellphone coverage to install their routers. Not a big city problem, but here in rural Arizona, cell coverage — like vaccinations — cannot be assumed.
Since my friends are not techies, I’ve also sampled TP-Link’s remote management capabilities. The handiest is remote firmware updates, but a number of other features can be managed, such as beamforming, port forwarding, and DHCP settings.
One important thing has changed since I last reviewed the TP-Link mesh routers: the competitive landscape. The prices of competing mesh systems from Google, Amazon, and others have come down, and it appears that TP-Link has raised some of their prices. Still, you can get into a TP-Link mesh for less than than the others, but the gap isn’t as large as it was.
If you want Wi-Fi 6, though, prices start at about $250 for a two or three node mesh. That’s better than most of the competition.
But do you want Wi-Fi 6 NOW? Unless you’ve upgraded to Wi-Fi 6 systems, probably not. But, if, like me, more Wi-Fi 6 systems are in the offing, why wait?
I make a practice of staying away from devices and services offered by firms that package my info and sell it. As near as I can tell, TP-Link doesn’t vacuum up user data for resale. So even though the pricing is a tad less competitive than it was, I still prefer the TP-Link business model.
Looking for a cost-effective Wi-Fi 6 mesh? Consider the TP-Link Deco X20 or X60 systems. They’ve worked well for me.
Comments welcome: What would you recommend?