Reviews

7 January
2020

Latest ZenWiFi device lineup eliminates WiFi dead spots and boost internet speeds using AiMesh mesh WiFi technology

Latest ZenWiFi device lineup eliminates WiFi dead spots and boost internet speeds using AiMesh mesh WiFi technology

KEY POINTS
• ZenWiFi AX delivers unparalleled performance: Get maximum performance and coverage with latest WiFi 6 standard mesh networking
• ZenWiFi AC upgrades your network with AiMesh: Easily set up a strong and stable WiFi signal in any part of a home with a stylish and subtle ZenWiFi AC kit
• The ZenWiFi Voice fuses the power of Amazon Alexa and AiMesh: Experience networking performance with an easy-to-use voice interface

ASUS showcased the ZenWiFi AX (XT8) and ZenWiFi AC (CT8) mesh networking routers alongside the newly announced ZenWiFi Voice, fusing the power of Amazon Alexa and ASUS AiMesh technology, at CES 2020. The latest ZenWiFi AX and ZenWiFi AC routers also come in two color options: White and Graphite Black.

Any users working or living in a larger space with obnoxious WiFi dead spots need mesh networking in their life. In a mesh topology, compatible wireless network devices cooperate to get information where it needs to go. Each of the new ZenWiFi products uses exclusive ASUS AiMesh technology to provide the best network performance possible alongside an easy-to-use interface, as well as exciting new features, including the ability to conveniently use separate WiFi network names for each band when using any ZenWiFi device and an intuitive voice-activated interface with Amazon Alexa on the ZenWiFi Voice.

ZenWiFi AX (XT8) delivers unparalleled AiMesh performance

The ZenWiFi AX WiFi System includes two WiFi 6 routers in a mesh WiFi configuration for maximum performance and coverage up to 5500 square feet (510 m2). It achieves unprecedented throughput with WiFi 6 support for both clients and inter-node communications – up to 6,600 Mbps across one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands, yielding up to 2.2x more aggregate speed than a WiFi 5-capable tri-band router. The ZenWiFi AX system pulls aesthetic inspiration from our high-end ZenBook notebook line for classy subtlety.

The two ZenWiFi AX nodes shuttle data over a dedicated 4x4 WiFi 6 backhaul at speeds up to 4,804 Mbps, while connected clients enjoy access to transfer rates with the potential to exceed the gigabit barrier. A full complement of WiFi 6 features, including MU-MIMO and OFDMA, ensures that each WiFi 6-compatible device on the network takes advantage of improved bandwidth thanks to lower communication latency, even in highly congested network environments like apartments, dorms, and dense urban districts. The ZenWiFi AX router multi-pack also automatically applies existing settings from the first router to the second router so users can quickly and easily set-up their mesh WiFi solution.

A special antenna design, isolated internal layout, and AiRadar 2.0 beamforming ensure that the ZenWiFi AX delivers both wide coverage and strong signals to each connected device. Each ZenWiFi AX node has 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet ports, offering blazing-fast connectivity for WAN, while the second ZenWiFi node can use either WAN or LAN connections via an automatic switch.

The ZenWiFi AX system also includes a suite of security features to mitigate the threats common on a ubiquitous Internet connection. AiProtection Pro, powered by Trend Micro and free for the lifetime of the router, stays up to date to filter restricted content categories. An activity dashboard shows users what’s being looked at, and a scheduler helps users restrict online access during certain hours, ideal for parental controls.

ZenWiFi AC (CT8) upgrades your network with AiMesh

The ZenWiFi AC tri-band whole-home mesh WiFi system pushes performance to new heights without looking out of place in a living room. Like the ZenWiFi AX, ZenWiFi AC system offers sleek aesthetics inspired by the ZenBook notebooks.

In aggregate, the two AC3000 routers in our ZenWiFi AC kit can achieve a data rate of up to 3000Mbps. An all-new enclosure wraps enthusiast-grade performance in a classy oblong shell that blends into any decor. Within, the ZenWiFi AC has a special antenna design like the ZenWiFi AX model with four antennas that are positioned vertically, and two pointed diagonally. The result is a clean design, optimal antenna spacing, and the best possible coverage up to 5400 square feet (500 m2) radiating in all directions. And like the ZenWiFi AX system, the ZenWiFi AC router multi-pack automatically applies existing settings from the first router to the second router so users can quickly and easily set-up their mesh WiFi solution.

Each node in the ZenWiFi AC system is equipped with a quad-core CPU to handle heavy traffic loads, ensuring a strong and stable WiFi signal in any part of a home. On the back of each router, there is one Gigabit Ethernet WAN port, three Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, and one USB 3.1 Gen 1 port for nearby PCs, printers, networked storage, and direct-attached hard drives or USB flash drives, so users can benefit from a local network hub no matter how big their home is.

Setting up a wireless network can be a huge hassle, but the ZenWiFi AC is a snap to roll out and manage. Control the network through an updated ASUS web interface, or download the ASUS Router app to an iOS or Android device. These tools allow users to deploy every node of their ZenWiFi network at once through a quick and easy three-step setup process, rather than going through the setup process on each node. Users can also run diagnostics, monitor traffic, and optimize networks directly from a phone or browser.

Like the ZenWiFi AX, everything connected to the ZenWiFi AC system is safeguarded by the AiProtection Pro, powered by a free lifetime subscription to Trend Micro’s database of security signatures. Regular updates keep the intrusion prevention system, malicious site blocker, and infected device detector current. In addition to all of the kit’s built-in intelligence, parents can set up curfews to limit screen time.

There’s a good chance old ASUS gear will work as a node on the network when users upgrade to the new ZenWiFi AX and AC systems, as the list of ASUS routers, bridges, and repeaters armed with AiMesh technology is long and distinguished.

The ZenWiFi Voice fuses the power of Amazon Alexa and AiMesh

The newly unveiled ZenWiFi Voice integrates voice-enabled assistant Amazon Alexa for hands-free functionality into a versatile and stylish mesh wireless router that can serve as a building block in a smart home. It brings an intuitive and familiar user interface with touch-sensitive volume controls on its top surface and a three-color LED light bar encircling the middle of its body to indicate when it’s listening to users and processing voice commands. Because ZenWiFi Voice supports AiMesh technology, device owners can use the ZenWiFi Voice as a standalone router, as part of a larger mesh network with other AiMesh devices, or to boost the signal of any wireless router from any brand in repeater mode.

As a standalone router, the ZenWiFi Voice dual-band AC1300 router delivers a smooth connection to wireless devices, as well as access to Amazon Alexa. The ZenWiFi Voice supports WiFi 5 speeds up to 1300Mbps in aggregate, and it offers support for Multi-User MIMO-compatible clients, allowing it to provide dedicated signals to each connected device for better stability and lower latency.

The ZenWiFi Voice also serves as the hub for a user’s favorite streaming music services. A far-field microphone can recognize voice commands even while music is playing, and a full-range, downward-firing speaker reproduces music with satisfying fidelity and depth. The ZenWiFi Voice supports many popular music and audio streaming services and can play a user’s music playlists simply by using voice commands. Pair existing powered speaker systems to a smart home set-up with ZenWiFi Voice’s stereo 3.5mm jack, allowing music to stream through practically any device with an auxiliary input.

The ZenWiFi Voice really shines when it’s a part of a larger mesh network. By combining with other AiMesh devices, it can expand wireless signal to every corner of a multi-story home. Plus, any room where users place a ZenWiFi Voice will have the power of Alexa. Use the ZenWiFi Voice to extend a current router’s signal by simply placing it in the part of the home that needs a boost. From there, the ZenWiFi Voice can use its 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands to amplify the signal of any wireless router in parts of a home that might otherwise have a slow or spotty connection. When roaming around a house, a user’s wireless devices will automatically switch between the ZenWiFi Voice and a router, depending on which has the strongest signal.

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