No NBN? Yeah, me neither… Yet with reasonable access to the 4G network I can still work from home in my rural setting. Is the Netgear 4 Stream Nighthawk LAX20 4G LTE + WiFi 6 router the solution to all my problems?
An early model of the Nighthawk from Netgear has been my saving grace for many years as our main router.
But now its big sibling has been launched in Australia and we thank Netgear for allowing us to test it.
The main attraction here is the much faster WiFi 6 so let’s delve into the benefits of that and give a quick overview of the whole unit.
Netgear is billing the NETGEAR 4 STREAM NIGHTHAWK LAX20 4G LTE WIFI 6 ROUTER as an alternative to NBN here in Australia and that’s a good approach. There are plenty of folks that will never have NBN and must rely on satellite or mobile broadband in their neck of the woods.
The working from home phenomenon in these Covid years also highlighted the need for fast and reliable internet access away from the office (where normally you might expect pretty good internet speeds).
There are two other reasons the home needs fast connections: think of kids and online learning (often with video streaming) and the increase in 4k home entertainment during lockdowns.
And even if you have NBN at home there are times when the network is down and all you have is mobile internet. The 4G LTE function can be a life saver with its fail-over capability to seamlessly switch over to LTE when needed.
So What’s the Fuzz on WiFi 6?
First the naming:
We’re used to hearing about 802.11a or b or g or n or … In fact all the letters of the alphabet have been used for the various protocols and combinations as well, like 802.11ac or ax.
To make things a bit easier for the consumer 802.11ac is also referred to as WiFi 5 and the new 802.11ax as WiFi 6.
Much has to do with increased speed and handling of more devices. For instance, WiFi 6 is capable of 1.8Gbps of high-performance wireless transfers and can handle a greater number of connected devices on your home network. That means it should be no problem to do UHD video streaming to all the connected screens, plus with your growing smart device ecosystem.
Compatible with most major 4G LTE service providers, the NETGEAR 4 STREAM NIGHTHAWK LAX20 4G LTE WIFI 6 ROUTER also brings along much needed protection against the ever increasing and sophisticated cyber attacks. This protective layer is called NETGEAR Armor Cybersecurity. I’m very pleased to see that it is based on the renowned Bitdefender Security anti-virus, anti-malware. We have used Bitdefender for many years now and personally I think it’s the best all-round protection you can have.
This is what Netgear promises: The Nighthawk 4 Stream LTE WiFi 6 Router includes a free 30-day trial of NETGEAR Armor to protect your home from online threats. Armor’s multi-layered cybersecurity is built into the new LTE WiFi 6 router to secure all the connected devices including smart devices, smart phones and computers on a home network from phishing and other online threats.”
The NIGHTHAWK LAX20 is a BEAST!
As modern routers go, they make an impressive statement: they want to be seen rather than being hidden away in a cupboard or somewhere else out of sight. This is a sleek, well-built piece of equipment with all the ports you’d expect and all the LEDs to indicate the unit is working. Slender, new-age, almost alien, this networking solution will definitely make a statement on your desk.
The only thing “missing“ is a display like the old Nighthawk has which is handy for messages and how much data is used in your cycle. Remember, this is not unlimited bandwidth when you’re depending on 4G data, so the ability to keep an eye out on usage is imperative.
I normally don’t pay any attention to the innards, like the processor or memory. But if you’re curious, there’s a powerful Quad-Core CPU and half a Gig of RAM and flash memory.
Trying Out the NIGHTHAWK LAX20
In most cases you’ll be able to get the NETGEAR 4 STREAM NIGHTHAWK LAX20 4G LTE WIFI 6 ROUTER up and running in no time. However, if you live beyond the black stump or in a rural area like we do, you might at best have spotty coverage. Fortunately, this router has a couple of TS9 antenna ports to pull in a stronger 4G signal. So I ordered a 4G LTE Signal Booster Antenna that would increase the gain by about 10-12DBi. These are not expensive and a good way to have a more consistent signal.
One problem solved.
The other – very small issue – I encountered was that the box or unit did not sport a QR code for easy installation with the Netgear Nighthawk app. Not a problem when you’re well-versed in setting up these routers but it’s an oversight that can be so easily remedied.
Once it all worked as advertised we could test the speed increase on our WiFi 6 capable laptop. How much noticeable it is depends also on your signal strength and how many other devices are sucking on the same pipe, so to speak. Keep in mind also that the advertised speeds are always the theoretical maximum speeds, obtained under perfect lab conditions.
Generally, you should notice a better speed even with multiple devices connected with the LAX20.
My final thoughts on the NIGHTHAWK LAX20
The NETGEAR 4 STREAM NIGHTHAWK LAX20 4G LTE WIFI 6 ROUTER is a highly capable option to access the internet via 4G LTE, either as a standalone router or in combination with NBN or other broadband options.
Netgear has a well-earned good reputation for reliable gear and this latest router is a clear example of excellent evolutionary design.
The NETGEAR 4 STREAM NIGHTHAWK LAX20 4G LTE WIFI 6 ROUTER can be bought for around $499 AUD at your usual electronic retailers such as JB HiFi or Retravision. Have a look at Amazon, too, where you may find it cheaper (and if you purchase via our link, it helps support the site).
• Dimensions: 295.8 x 206 x 57.2 mm
• Weight: 580 grams
• LTE Cat 6
• TS9 connectors
• Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) Dual Band WiFi (AX1800)
– 2.4G: 600Mbps, 40/20MHz 1024/256-QAM
– 5G: 1200Mbps, 80/40/20MHz 1024-QAM
– 160MHz channel support
– Backwards compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi
• Uplink & downlink OFDMA — Improved capacity and efficiency
• Powerful quad-core processor
• One (1) USB 2.0 port
• Memory: 512MB flash and 512MB RAM
• Additional DFS channels reduce interference from neighbouring networks
• Longer range with 2 high-performance antennas
• Five (5) 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports – 1 WAN & 4 LAN