D-Link is trying to make it simple to give your computer a Wi-Fi upgrade. The networking company has announced what it’s calling an “industry-first” Wi-Fi 6 adapter built into a USB stick. Plug it into your laptop or desktop computer, and you may be able to get better performance than from your older Wi-Fi chip. The adapter advertises speeds up to 1,200Mbps.
It’s not entirely clear who the target audience is for this upgrade. You’ll need to be connected to a Wi-Fi 6 router to get the biggest benefits, and most people still don’t own one of those (the Wi-Fi 6 standard only started rolling out two years ago). And if the laptop or desktop you’re using was bought any time in recent memory, chances are it supports Wi-Fi 5, which isn’t a huge step down from Wi-Fi 6.
Wi-Fi 6 does come with some benefits, though. Devices that support it can communicate with routers more efficiently, which can lead to improved performance across a network. Wi-Fi 6 devices also support more secure connections.
The adapter will be available in the second quarter of 2021 for $100.
D-Link is also announcing two new Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers, both of which look a little like air purifiers. The higher end model, the AI M32, is a dual-band mesh system promising speeds up to 3.2 Gbps. Below that, D-Link is introducing the DIR-LX1870, which should offer combined connection speeds of around 1,800Mbps. The AI M32 will sell for $250 starting in the third quarter of 2021; the DIR-LX1870 launches right away for $130.
There are plenty of routers being announced this week as part of CES 2021. This year’s big new upgrade is routers with support for Wi-Fi 6E, a huge upgrade to Wi-Fi that quadruples the available airwaves on which they can broadcast. So far, TP-Link and Netgear have announced high-end routers with support for the new tech.