October 5, 2023

Keerti Melkote, the founder of Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company that provides Wi-Fi products for businesses, offered a different theory. Most of the devices in my house would need to have chips that make them compatible with Wi-Fi 6 before the benefits are more pronounced, he said. Only about a quarter of my internet connected devices have this.

These weren’t great results. But the good news was that with Wi-Fi 6 I noticed subtle changes all over my house.

For one thing, my smart speakers from Amazon are now reacting faster. In my bedroom, I ask Alexa to control a pair of internet-connected light bulbs. When I said, “Alexa, turn the lights on” with the older router, there was about a two second delay before the light was on. Now it’s less than half a second.

I noticed something similar with MyQ, with which I can control my garage door with a smartphone app. Before that, after pressing the button, I waited a few seconds for the door to open. Now the wait is a split second.

My video calls also look clearer than they used to be and take less time to connect.

This suggests that Wi-Fi 6 is a long-term investment. The more internet-connected devices that get into people’s homes in the coming years, the more the benefits will become apparent.

“It will take time, but the improvements will be real,” said Melkote.

Of the two Wi-Fi 6 routers I tested, I preferred the Eero Pro 6. It’s $ 150 cheaper than the Netgear Orbi, and both routers were equally fast in my tests. Setting up the Eero was easier too.

But who should buy?

My experience has shown that people who have bought a router in the past five years probably wouldn’t see major improvements right away, so there’s no rush to upgrade.