Wi-Fi is starting to go through a generational change, the kind of big upgrade that only happens once every five years or so. But while this faster new version of Wi-Fi has shown up inside plenty of routers across the CES show floor this week, it’s had a poor showing in the one place that really matters: our actual computing devices. Only a handful of laptops — and no smartphones, tablets, smart home devices, PCs, or other gadgets that we’ve seen — have been announced this week with support for the new generation of Wi-Fi. That means that, even though you can go out to the store today and buy a next-gen Wi-Fi router, very few devices can actually take advantage of its faster speeds. The new generation of Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 6, is supposed to reduce battery demand, pack more information into each broadcast, and allow more devices to be reached at a time. It won’t necessarily provide immense speed gains, but it’s designed to do a better job of holding up inside households with a multitude of Wi-Fi-connected devices, as our homes increasingly are. Wi-Fi 6 has been in the works for a couple of years, and 2019 is supposed to be the true kick-off point. The Wi-Fi Alliance, the group that oversees implementation of the standard, plans to begin certifying devices in the fall, at which point momentum should really pick up. So the tepid introduction at this year’s CES isn’t necessarily unexpected — realistically, routers are the… [Read full story]
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