By Dong Ngo
CES 2024 has come to a close, and for fans of Wi-Fi -- virtually everyone who uses the Internet, whether they know it or not -- the show was tremendous. A day before the show officially started, on January 8, the Wi-Fi Alliance dropped a pleasant surprise by announcing its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 7 Program. Initially, the group intended to ratify the standard by "the end of Q1".
The announcement means the Wi-Fi Alliance is now officially certifying Wi-Fi 7 devices, and that was perfect timing for CES 2024, with so many exciting product announcements from hardware vendors.
Read more: What is Wi-Fi 7?
Generally, networking vendors tend to enter a new Wi-Fi standard with expensive flagship products. That was indeed the case with draft Wi-Fi 7 in 2023. To enjoy the new Wi-Fi standard, you need devices on both ends of a wireless connection.
On the broadcasting side, in May last year, TP-Link was the first company to introduce Wi-Fi 7 and mesh systems, including the Archer BE800 and the Deco line. As the year progressed, in August, Netgear joined the race with its flagship Nighthawk RS700S router and Orbi 970 Series.
On the receiving end, by late 2023, there were smartphones, including the Pixel 8 Pro, the One Plus 11 5G, and a few others, as the first Wi-Fi 7-enabled clients. Then, in November, the Intel B200 adapter was available for those who wanted to do a manual upgrade on a Windows Intel-based computer.
So 2023 was when Wi-Fi 7 was available to early adopter enthusiasts, who, among other things, don't mind the fact the standard wasn't even fully certified.
And CES 2024 changed all that.
The show started with TP-Link's unveiling of a long list of additional Wi-Fi broadcasters, including its first actual gaming router, the Archer GE800, and a few mid-tier Deco75, BE65, and BE25 mesh systems. Among them are options for outdoor, built-in 5G modem, and PoE configurations.
Most significantly, the company also unveiled two a la carte Wi-Fi 7 adapters, including the Archer TBE400UH BE6500, which works with any computer with a USB port.
These adapters work with any computer that runs Windows 11 and come with the software driver via USB storage. They, as well as the new mesh systems, will be available sometime in the second quarter of 2024 and will make Wi-Fi 7 available for the vast majority of users.
Asus, another major networking vendor, announced its latest Wi-Fi 7 hardware at CES 2024.
ZenWiFi BQ series, represented by the BQ16 Pro, has everything to satisfy the bandwidth needs of a large home, from top-tier Wi-Fi 7 specs to 10Gbps Multi-Gigabit ports to lots of advanced and free-for-line options.
The 2-pack ZenWiFi BQ16 is slated to be available in the second quarter of the year and will cost around $1,000. There will be more affordable options in the near future.
Additionally, the company also announced the availability of its $699 RT-BE96U router, which is available now.
MSI unveiled the all-new Wi-Fi 7 Roamii purpose-built home mesh lineup that's highly affordable compared to anything you've seen, including:
Per MSI, these systems will be available during the first quarter of the year. At these prices, they will make upgrading to Wi-Fi 7 an easy path.
Wi-Fi 7 is the fastest-adopted standard among all Wi-Fi revisions and for good reason. It's the standard that ends the fragmentation of the frequency bands and brings fast and seamless connections to all homes. And 2024 is a great year to start thinking about that upgrade.
Dong Ngo has been living and breathing technology since Y2K and is the writer at the no-nonsense tech blog Dong Knows Tech.
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