I reviewed the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 router a couple of months back (read the review), but it was beaten to market last year by the TP-Link Talon AD7200. The Talon was the first router to support the emerging 802.11ad wireless standard, alongside the more common 802.11ac bands.
802.11ad works on the 60 GHz band, offering dramatically faster speeds – at a very short range – than the 5 and 2.4 GHz wireless bands you’ll find on most routers. The 60 GHz band offers connection speeds up to 4600 Mbps, 5 GHz up to 1733 Mbps, and 2.4 GHz up to 800 Mbps. By short range, I mean you’ll need to be close to the router, most likely in the same room, to experience the best performance.
For me, that firmly places 802.11ad devices like the TP-Link Talon and NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 a the niche category, but as we’ll see, with supporting clients you can achieve near Gigabit wireless speeds.
Priced at $349.99 – a significant saving on the $499.99 list price of the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 – the Talon is powered by the 1.4 GHz dual-core Qualcomm IPQ8064 processor, paired with 512 MB RAM. It’s a CPU we’ve seen in a number of mid-range routers over the last year or two, but is slower than the 1.7 GHz Alpine AL-514 from Annapurna Labs that drives the X10. It’s also worth mentioning that NETGEAR’s device also has twice the RAM.[wpdatatable id=33]
Indeed, aside from 802.11ad support, the Talon is pretty straightforward. While the X10 boasts 10 GbE support, 6 Gigabit LAN ports and support for Plex Media Server, TP-Link’s range topper is far less sparkly. So while there’s a hefty price differential between the two devices, NETGEAR is packing in more advanced features and kit to justify the delta.
I’m actually somewhat of a fan of the Talon’s design. While most eight antenna routers are hideous, the Talon’s square(ish) form includes diagonal grooves into which each antenna can fold down, when not in use. The device still resembles some kind of pagan ceremony diorama, but the conservative design shouldn’t raise too many eyebrows.
Using the TP-Link Talon AD7200
TP-Link unveiled a fundamental redesign of their router management interface around eighteen months ago and it remains one of the clearest and easiest consoles in the marketplace. Whether you’re choosing to set and forget, or you’re a more advanced networker that wants to get close to the network configuration, you’ll find the Talon’s UI to be responsive and easy to get on with.
From a features perspective, the Talon’s armoury may not be as well stocked as the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10, but most users will find it to be more than sufficient for everyday needs. They include the common guest networking, parental controls and device based QoS prioritisation options you’ll encounter on many routers, but you’ll also find more advanced features such as Dynamic DNS, VPN Server support and FTP access included.