Routers are suddenly getting really, really interesting after spending an eternity being weird, ugly, and dull. Every company and probably half of all Kickstarter campaigns are now trying to get in on the multi-unit router craze — today, there’s a new one being announced by Asus.
At CES, Asus is unveiling a pair of routers called the HiveSpot and HiveDot. Both work in generally the same way, creating a single Wi-Fi network that can blanket a large area, with the size depending on how many Spot or Dot units are used (there’s a minimum of three and a max of five).
The difference between the Spot and Dot comes down to the number of Wi-Fi radios they have and ultimately how fast they’ll be. The Spot is a tri-band system, and — like Netgear’s Orbi and Linksys’ Velop before it — it uses one of those three radios as a dedicated communication link between different router units. In theory, that’ll allow the system to maintain higher speeds.
The Dot is a dual-band system, which means it’ll be slower but cheaper. Most mesh Wi-Fi systems to date have gone the dual-band route. Despite the speed difference, a dual-band Wi-Fi system — Google Wifi — is currently our favorite out there, so it’s worth keeping in mind that the modest speed increases seen on a tri-band system may be outweighed by factors like price and ease of use. Or the fact that the Spot and Dot units look pretty ugly.
Asus says the routers will be available sometime in the second quarter of the year, with pricing between $299 and $399. That’s expensive, but it’s on par with what we’ve been seeing for these multi-unit systems.