When it comes to a Wi-Fi router’s antennas, my standard recommendation, for the most part, is to leave them alone. I even wrote a long post about this topic.
Now, TP-Link’s new Archer AXE200 makes me think twice. No, you still should leave those little poles alone, but that’s because they will adjust themselves for you this time around.
You read that right. This one is the first router on the market to handle its antennas’ positions in real-time to deliver the best coverage. That’s the idea, anyway.
Details of the Archer AXE200 are still sketchy — it’s not finalized yet — but from what I’ve been shown, it can be the coolest Wi-Fi (6E) router you’ll find.
Dong’s note: I first published this post on November 11, 2021, and updated it on January 4, 2022, with additional information provided by TP-Link as it announced more Wi-Fi 6 routers.
TP-Link Archer AXE200 Omni: A Wi-Fi 6E router of a few firsts
In introducing the new router, TP-Link says the new design removes “the need for manual antenna adjustment, automatically optimizing to deliver best Wi-Fi connections to all devices.”
And I had doubts. Initially, I thought the feature seemed a bit like a gimmick.
After all, in my experience, the antennas’ positions have little to do with a home router’s coverage or performance. That’s not to mention TP-Link has made flagship routers of which the antennas can’t be adjusted at all, like the Archer GX90 or Archer AX11000.
On top of that, the new router’s name, “Omni,” which rhymes with “omnidirectional,” seems a bit counterintuitive to the idea of antenna adjustment.
“It’s like a drone!”
However, when the company showed a little video of the machine where the antennas change their positions, it occurred to me that the feature could be a real thing.
Specifically, the router can do more than rasing and collapsing the antennas. Instead, it could rotate each of its four antennas’ position at various degrees and angles — somewhat like a drone handling its propellers.
Watching the demo video, I actually uttered, “It’s like a drone! Can it fly?” (No, it can’t!)
And that, when coupled with a well-programmed FEM could translate into a totally new realm of dynamic signal coverage.
That’s my guess anyway. Again, there’re still a lot of unknowns about the new router. We still don’t know the mechanism for the adjustment or the conditions that would automatically trigger the change of antennas’ positions. So on and so forth.
So, at the end of the day, this antenna-adjustment thing could still end up a gimmick. But now, at least it’ll be a fun gimmick.
A powerful router with two Multi-Gig ports
Other than the antennas, there are a few things that you can count on this router.
These ports alone are enough to make those looking to go beyond Gigabit happy. So far, this is the first announced Wi-Fi 6E router that has two Multi-Gig ports.
TP-Link says the router sports a 2.0 GHz Quad-Core CPU and plenty of system memory and flash storage.
On top of that, you can expect the new router to have a similar web interface, mobile, and networking settings/features as existing routers in TP-Link’s Archer family.
Finally, the new Archer AXE200 Omni will also support OneMesh right out of the box and also comes with HomeShield for online protection — especially for vulnerable IoT devices — and Parental Controls.
Availability and pricing
TP-Link says it will be showcasing the new Archer AXE200 Omni at CES 2022 as an Innovation Awards Honoree and ship it “in 2022” for a suggested retail cost of $499.99.
Considering the other TP-Link Wi-Fi 6E hardware that hasn’t materialized, I wouldn’t hold my breath for this new router, but do check back next year for more. I’m happy to be proven wrong.