AC2600 Smart WiFi Router
Following the standard NETGEAR plinth shaped appearance, combining a plastic matte black base with a dark grey top, the Nighthawk X4S has dimensions of 285 x 185 x 50 mm (W x D x H). To gain the full benefit of this router you will need to attach the provided four antennas. These antennas can be screwed into sockets that are positioned on either side of the unit and along the rear of the router.
Both the available screw sockets and antennas are clearly labelled to ensure there should be no problem with their positioning. Once the antennas have been screwed into position then they can be individually adjusted to stand at an angle of 45 or 90 degrees to deliver the optimum signal to the overall area that is to fall under the influence of this router.
Joining the antennas labelled “2” on the left side of the router are a couple of USB 3.0 port connections sockets while the antennas labelled “3”, on the right side of the unit, is kept company by an eSATA port. The other two antennas, both labelled “1”, fit on the rear of the router. Both of the sides also feature areas providing ventilation to ensure excessive heat does not become an issue with this router,
The front of the router is also given over to providing even more ventilation. Just above this area of ventilation area is a row of 13 LEDs whose job it is to provide feedback regarding the various features supported by the Nighthawk X4S. There are LEDs for power, Internet, 2.4GHz bandwidth, 5GHz bandwidth, USB ports, eSATA, the individual Ethernet ports, WiFi and WPS.
While the LEDs provide the visual feedback regarding the status of the router’s various connection options, many of the sockets, USB and eSATA apart, are located along the rear of the router. Arranged from left to right are a power button, mains power socket, Internet socket, four Ethernet ports, reset hole and a slider toggle to turn on / off the LEDs, the power light excepted, for a more subdued look and less distracting.
Beating at the heart of the Nighthawk X4S is a 1.7GHz processor. This can access 128MB of flash and 512MB of RAM as it delivers its content over a combination of 2.4GHz and 5GHz streams of 800 and 1733 Mbps over a wide range. Using the available ports on the rear of the unit, you can attach up to four wired devices plus connect to a fibre or cable modem via the WAN Ethernet port coloured slightly differently to ensure there is no confusion. The right sided eSATA port can be used to provide external storage linkage. The two USB 3.0 ports on the left side of the router allow for the user to attach NAS storage and charging purposes.
The Nighthawk X4S comes with various features designed to assist the user with certain specific tasks. The router supports the use of NETGEAR’s genie® app which is a remote access tool. Also available are ReadyCLOUD®, OpenVPN and Kwilt app useful when managing network issues.
The router’s WiFi capability has the ability to deliver dual band streaming consisting of 4 x 4 (2.4GHz) and 4 x 4 (5GHz) options. The use of Beamforming +’s signal focusing technology helps to boost elements such as speed, reliability and range of the established WiFi connection although a WiFi extender facility might provide an additional boost with regards to signal range.
Included with the router is ReadySHARE® software. This two-pronged software offers USB and VAULT elements. ReadySHARE® USB offers the ability to share USB attached hard drive and printer devices. ReadySHARE ® VAULT is the tool that will automatically record any incremental changes detected on computers forming part of the host network and save the changes detected to a USB hard drive connected to the router. The virtual CLOUD has not been forgotten as a ReadyCLOUD® feature gives you access to secure cloud location.
Although I am not a great fan of routers with external antennas, I found the Nighthawk X4S kit to be a well designed, capable piece of kit delivering a performance that should be fine for those who enjoy gaming and video streaming activities. A quick check of the Internet revealed that this product is currently available priced at around £165.
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