For most Apple fans, choosing a WiFi router would have been easy — the brand’s AirPort collection. That’s soon not going to be an option, so what else is out there?
Apple recently announced that it is discontinuing the AirPort line of network accessories, which includes the AirPort Express, Airport Extreme and Time Capsule. However they will continue to sell remaining inventory, without a discount, as well as provide hardware and software support for those still using those devices.
The Apple WiFi routers are especially convenient because they are easy to set up and also offer automatic wireless backup. But with AirPorts being consigned to the past, Apple has given instructions on what to look for in alternatives. A post from the company gives tips on choosing an appropriate replacement that can provide the “most compatibility, reliability, and performance when used with Apple devices.”
Their recommendations are to choose devices with the latest wireless standard, 802.11ac, simultaneous dual-band, WPA2 encryption and MIMO (multiple input and multiple output).
Three devices from well known manufacturers which meet these requirements and have a few additional perks are Netgear Orbi, Google Wi-Fi and Linksys Velop. Although these come well recommended, there are other options, with the following features among those to look out for:
IEEE 802.11ac: This is the “latest wireless-networking” that Apple is refers to in its post; it basically means faster internet, better range. (Found in Netgear Orbi, Google Wi-Fi and Linksys Velop.)
Simultaneous dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz): The faster the better, so why the need for two speeds? Not all devices are compatible with 5GHz, either because they are slightly dated or it’s a smart accessory for the home. But don’t worry, your device will automatically connect to its preferred speed. (Found in Netgear Orbi, Google Wi-Fi and Linksys Velop.)
WPA2 Personal (AES) encryption: Apple describes this necessary feature as “the strongest form of security available in a Wi-Fi router.” (Also found in Netgear Orbi, Google Wi-Fi and Linksys Velop.)
MIMO or MU-MIMO: Simply put, it makes it faster for multiple devices to stream data. Netgear Orbi and Linksys Velop come with MU-MIMO (for multi users), whereas Google Wi-Fi comes with SU-MIMO (single user). Note, the Google WiFi is a generally slightly more affordable also.
Wireless Mesh Network: Essentially there is one main router and then additional satellites can be placed in other areas of the home to relay the WiFi connection, creating a larger scope of signal, much like adding to a daisy chain. Netgear was titled “The Best Wi-Fi Mesh-Networking Kits for Most People” by Wirecutter.
And according to 9to5mac, the Linksys Velop is the “mesh Wi-Fi system Apple recommends to users and it’s available in 1-pack, 2-pack, and 3-pack configurations.”
The more affordable Google Wi-Fi system comes in 1-pack and 3-pack configurations. There are a few other nice-to-have features worth looking into such as easy setup with an app and parental controls, which will allow parents to pause a child’s connection at certain times, as well as control the duration of online time.