NETGEAR announced its first Nighthawk Wi-Fi mesh system based on the Wi-Fi Alliance's Wi-Fi EasyMesh technology at CES 2020.
The initial offering, the Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System (MK62), includes an MR60 routing unit and MS60 satellite unit, both based on a dual-stream Broadcom platform. The system can be expanded by adding more MS60 satellites up to a total of four, or maybe 5 nodes, according to NETGEAR.
Both router and satellite are powered by a quad-core 1.5 GHz processor with 128 MB flash and 256 MB DRAM and support maximum link rates of 600 Mbps @ 2.4 GHz and 1200 Mbps @ 5 GHz.
The MR60 router has Gigabit Ethernet WAN and LAN ports and the MS60 satellite has a single Ethernet port. Wired backhaul will be supported in a future firmware release.
Other features include single network SSID, MU-MIMO, Smart Connect, and beamforming.
However, the fine print in the product's data sheet notes "This router does not support some of the mandatory features ratified in Draft 3.0 of IEEE 802.11AX specification, such as Uplink OFDMA, Target Wake Time, and BSS Coloring.".
The system is configured via NETGEAR's Nighthawk mobile app that provides setup, remote management, guest networking, and performance tools.
For security, the Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System also supports VPN, WPA3, auto firmware update, and uses Secure Boot to protect against rogue firmware.
NETGEAR's announcement mentions Wi-Fi EasyMesh support almost in passing. But it could mark NETGEAR's movement toward enabling other Nighthawk family routers to join together in mesh networks, similar to ASUS' AiMesh system.
NETGEAR also did not have clear positioning of Nighthawk mesh vs. its well-established Orbi mesh system.
Available later this month, the Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System will have an MSRP of $229.99. A three node MK63 version (one MR60, two MS60) will follow in March, with pricing TBD.