This story is part of , where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.
Asus usually brings a router or two to, and that’s true for this year’s all-virtual event. Asus is showing off a new Wi-Fi 6 router that lets you create a VPN connection back to your home network when you’re using public Wi-Fi.
The router is the Asus RT-AX68U, an AX2700 device with full support for 802.11ax, or . That means it supports the newest and most advanced generation of Wi-Fi, with that let it communicate more efficiently with lots of devices at once and send more data with each transmission.
Asus doesn’t have the price or the release date locked down just yet, but I wouldn’t expect it to cost more than $200. Other, similar Asus routers with dual-band Wi-Fi 6 designs typically cost about $180; meanwhile, the previous-gen, Wi-Fi 5 version currently sells for about $125.
The new feature that aims to make public Wi-Fi safer to use is a companion app called Instant Guard. Like all VPNs, it encrypts the data travelling to and from your phone and routes it all through a secure server. The interesting wrinkle is that, in this case, the secure server is your home network. As your data passes through, the router’s own AIProtection Pro feature will scan for threats.
It’s a similar pitch to Ubiquiti’s Teleport app for routers like the, which can VPN your public Wi-Fi connection back to your home router, too. I thought it was a clever feature when I tested it out last year, but noted that Ubiquiti collected certain bits of usage data to make the feature work. That makes it a less ideal privacy option than that doesn’t collect usage data at all. At any rate, I’ll be sure to take a good look at Instant Guard’s fine print once I’ve had the chance to test it out, too.
As for speeds and specs, Asus claims the AX68U can hit theoretical maximums of 861Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1,802 Mbps (1.8 Gbps) on the 5GHz band. It features three external antennas, four spare Ethernet LAN ports, and two USB ports for connecting printers and other peripherals, one USB 2.0 and the other USB 3.0. If you’re bored with black, the Asus landing page for the router teases an albino, white-bodied version, too.
However, the AX68U doesn’t include a multigig WAN port that’s capable of accepting incoming, wired speeds any faster than 1Gbps. It doesn’t support new designation for Wi-Fi 6 devices equipped to operate in . So far, the only Asus router that does is , an extravagant gaming router the company teased last year. An Asus spokesperson tells me to expect that to launch later in the first quarter of 2021, perhaps by February., a