The TP-Link Talon AD7200 is unlike any router I've used before: it's the first 802.11ad router that can deliver up to 4.6Gbps Wi-Fi speed on the 60GHz band, while at the same time serving data on the more traditional 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. That's three different bands, all operating at once. A first for a consumer router.
OK. So what's 802.11ad?
In a nutshell, it's a new Wi-Fi standard that operates on the 60GHz frequency band, has incredibly high ceiling speed -- up to 7Gbps, compared with the 1.3 Gbps most users experience today -- but extremely short range (about 30 feet at most) and can't penetrate walls, meaning, devices will only work if they're within the line of sight of the router. The new standard is meant to supplement the existing 802.11ac, which is slower but has much longer range. So conceptually, all 802.11ad routers will have access to the superfast 60GHz band, but also work as a normal 802.11ac router, which is the standard most routers on the market use today. (For more on the 802.11ad, check out this post.)
Note: The Talon AD7200 doesn't support the full speed of 802.11ad, but just at 4.6Gbps, which is already crazy fast.
What do I need to take advantage of 802.11ad?
To get the full benefits of the 802.11ad standard with the Talon AD700, you'll need at least two clients (a smartphone, laptop. etc) that support 802.11ad.
Unfortunately, there are very few of these kinds of laptops, smartphones or tablet etc. currently on the market. Fortunately, I had access to an 802.11ad-compatible laptop, the Acer TravelMate P446. I used a network cable to connect the router to a file server and then copied the file to the Acer via Wi-Fi. While the transfer took place in seconds, it still did not reach the full speed of 802.11ad, topping out at 1Gbps (the same connection speed as the connected file servers.)
There are a few reasons for this:
- The router and a the laptop could only connect at a maximum of 2.3Gbps using the 60GHz band, which was the top Wi-Fi speed of the laptop itself.
- The router was physically connected to the file server using a Gigabit connection which tops out at 1Gbps, effectively bottlenecking the wireless performance of the router
Still, it's refreshing to confirm that 802.11ad devices are at the very least Gigabit speed capable.
Since there are so few 802.11ad clients, why should I care about this router?
Faster is always better, and the Talon is futureproof. When 802.11ad devices are more readily available, the Talon will give you the option of wirelessly connecting them together at extremely fast speeds, as long as they are in close proximity to the router. Imagine being able to quickly connect your laptop to a big-screen TV and instantly stream 4K video to it. That's why you'd care about this router.
To this end, though, keep in mind that the Talon is physically huge, so good luck finding a place to keep it out in the open where it's not an eyesore.