Can This $849 Router Make You Go Faster Than Four Red Bulls?
The Netgear XR700 retails for an eye-bleeding $849. I’ve been on God’s Green Earth long enough to know that routers are cursed objects that often just stop working because — like humans — they sometimes decide working is simply too hard. So for $849, I expect the easiest, fastest router experience imaginable. But alas, I am a hopeful idiot.
The XR700 features Smart Connect — which automatically assigns connected devices to either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band. This means you only have to have one visible network, and you don’t have to make a decision as to what device should be on which network (because decision making sucks).
Simply put, 5GHz has more potential for higher speeds, while 2.4GHz is a bit slower but the signal reaches further. So you’d want to put devices that need snappy speeds, like computers, on the 5GHz as long as they’re close enough to the router.
But I found Smart Connect seemed to put virtually everything on 2.4GHz, which was a shame because that network was literally unusable. For whatever reason speeds were so slow that I couldn’t even load Twitter on my phone. Heck — I could barely even log into the router itself. I did try to diagnose the problem, but this is a $849 router. I shouldn’t have to be grappling with it for one of the bands to work. If anything, it should be telling me I look amazing and tucking me in at night.
2.4GHz did seem to work with my TV (which doesn’t have a 5GHz receiver), but intermittently. To be fair, TV WiFi receivers suck ass.
The router software is feature rich, and even includes real-time graphs which make you feel like a hacker. Despite the plethora of nicely laid out, graphic-rich information, there doesn’t seem to be an option to manually assign a network preference for individual devices. In the end, I gave up and turned Smart Connect off. It may be smart, but I am smarter.
Other than these struggles, the router was fine. It has an excessive 6 LAN ports in the back, which is great if your router is located near most of your devices or if you want to have a LAN party (which I do. Hit me up). The LED lights can be turned off, which is fabulous if the router lives in a bedroom.
But, as is often the case with bleeding edge technology, you’re really paying for a lot of things that you just won’t use. The XR700 is 60GHz capable — which is basically a network that’s super fast with super short range — but I’d bet my bottom dollar that you don’t have a device that is capable of connecting to that 60GHz network. And given the proximity you’d need to the router to really make use of it, I don’t see why you wouldn’t just hardwire in.
There’s also a SFP+ port, which gives you a 10 Gigabit LAN connection that would primarily be used for a NAS. I’m going to bet that most people don’t have, nor care about, NAS systems — and even as someone who has one I am not going to upgrade it so that I can utilise an SFP+ port. Tl;dr: You’re probably not going to use it.
At the end of the day, the XR700 is an impressive looking piece of kit that performed just about as well as any other reputable router I’ve used — with a far more impressive GUI that I will very rarely look at. But that’s about it.
I’m sorry to say, a $849 router can’t ever make you happy. It’s too much to pay for something that will inevitably have something go wrong. It will never fill that emptiness in your soul, or silence that quiet voice which tells you you’re not enough. But that won’t stop some people from trying.
The Gaming Pack
Are you a gamer? Do you want to have the mystique and allure of a gamer? Well, Netgear has just the thing for you — the Gaming Pack. The pack was sent to the Junkee offices with the XR700, and while they don’t seem to be selling it elsewhere it contains everything a growing gamer needs to pwn the competition:
- 4 cans of Red Bull
- 4 Kinder Bueno
- An Avant Gaming jersey
- A Netgear XR700 router
While the real star is the router, I was given a Gaming Pack to review. So a Gaming Pack I shall review.
The Red Bull
Everyone knows gamers require energy drinks, to keep reaction times fast as they play all night long. Red Bull has a history of aligning themselves with gaming brands — even going so far as plastering their logo onto esports teams’ logos – so whom better to provide a gaming drink?
The cans aren’t your standard wimpy 250mL — these are 473mL behemoths. This, to me, sounds like a lethal dose of energy, but did it make me game better?
Not at all. Drinking it made me so anxious that I couldn’t make good decisions. The sound of my blood rushing through my ears made it hard to hear my teammates. Plus, it tastes like turpentine and a desperate attempt to stay the effects of burnout.
Did you know ‘bueno’ means ‘good’ in Spanish? Naming something ‘good’ does not automatically make it so, but luckily, in this case, the chocolate lives up to its titular bueno-ness.
You’ve got chocolate, you’ve got wafer, you’ve got hazelnut cream. While a little on the sweet side, the Bueno delivers on a satisfying textural experience with adequate mouthfeel. Plus, it has indentations that divide it into 4 pieces, so if someone were to ask you to share you could simply give them a quarter and avoid feeling obliged to break it in half.
I have no idea what this has to do with gaming. I’m lactose intolerant so if anything it increased my bathroom breaks. 7/10.
Unless you are a fan of Avant Gaming, I can’t imagine why you would want this. And unless you like synthetic sports fabrics, I can’t imagine why you’d wanna wear it. It was also too big for me, but it fit my dog alright. And made possible these dog-in-clothes photos so I can’t be too mad.
Angharad Yeo is a TV Presenter, writer, tech expert, and curator of the best country playlist you’ve ever heard. Boost her ego with a Twitter follow: @angharadyeo