‘Allo, ‘Allo – this is Nighthawk calling.. again!

Not happy with the response from Sony’s TV division about their update schedule for Android TV on the Sony Bravia KD-55XH90/P, and given that the government’s advice is to continue working from home, I started looking around for a new router to replace my Ubiquiti Amplifi Wi-Fi 5 system.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this little fella (and its extender that used to sit in my bedroom) was a pretty decent bit of kit (it certainly cost enough), but times are a-changing.

Prior to the Amplifi kit, I tried a Netgear Nighthawk router (an X10 AD2700 Quad-Stream MU-MIMO-AG) and found the performance absolutely dire – enough that I had to return it to Amazon. The HP printer just wouldn’t connect properly to the 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi channel and overall it was a chunky, chunky beast.

The set-up was straightforward enough, but the stated performance from Wi-Fi and ethernet just was not good enough for me. So back it went.

Stand-by for action: Stingray! Stingray! The Nighthawk RAX200.

Now I’m using the Nighthawk AX11000 RAX200 12-Stream Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 router and now that practically all my Apple devices now utilise Wi-Fi 6, it’s made a massive difference to my home network. The HP Printer has had absolutely no problems connecting to the 2.4Ghz network (indeed, dropping in the router into the existing network has caused no issues) and even though I bought the router with a mesh extender, I’ve not needed it – strong signal throughout the whole house with incredibly decent throughout – significantly better than the previous Amplifi setup.

Unlike the Amplifi kit, the router comes with a decent web interface as well as the Netgear app. I configured the router initially with the app and went into the web interface to tweak things.

The benefit of having a new router is that I can now make use of WPA3 Wi-Fi authentication which is significantly better than WPA2. Not all devices support it, so I’ve essentially classified lower-risk devices, put them on the 2.4Ghz network and kept WPA2 running it on it. Everything else is on one of two 5Ghz channels and must use WPA3.

Another benefit of the Nighthawk RAX200 is that it supports Netgear Armor (sic – Americans don’t you know) – usually found on the super pricey Netgear Orbi systems – which is a vulnerability scanner for home networks powered by BitDefender. It includes the BitDefender client for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS/iPadOS as part of an annual subscription – and from my own experiences with BitDefender, it’s absolutely worth it. The system will scan your network and devices every week (or on-demand) to determine if anything is being naughty and will isolate it if necessary. For my first year, I managed to secure 70% off – which was nice.

The only issue I have with Netgear Armor is that the app is perhaps more accurate at reporting the device than the official website. For example, the app identifies my Sony TV as a TV – but the website shows it as a phone. Also, there’s no BitDefender client for Android TV which is a bit of a shame. (Mind you, have we really come this far that we need anti-virus/anti-malware on a bloody TV now?)

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Other features: QoS and VLANing (plus VLAN bridging) and comes with a built-in SPI/firewall which detects incoming port scans and attacks and blocks them effectively. There’s a quasi-NAS function with an external hard drive connected to USB, but I don’t particularly find those kinds of things particularly useful.

I’m genuinely very happy with his new Nighthawk router. It’s not cheap – £400 – but for the performance and feature set it fits in with my needs as well as that as protecting my home network while hybrid working/working from home continues to be a thing.

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