We just got clearance to share about some new Peplink hardware that is now available for pre-order, and which is currently slated to begin shipping later this summer.
The completely new Pepwave MAX BR1 Pro 5G in particular is exciting - bringing much faster router performance, 5G, and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) to one of Peplink's most popular models.
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Pepwave MAX BR1 Pro 5G
We've been fans of Peplink's Pepwave MAX BR1 cellular integrated router ever since the "universal" multi-carrier version was released in February 2015, and the BR1 became even more versatile when the Mk2 model was released in late 2017 - adding more advanced cellular and Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) Wi-Fi.
But the Mk2 has gone unchanged ever since - and as cellular networks have continued to evolve, it has been looking increasingly dated.
The new MAX BR1 Pro 5G is the first major update to the MAX BR1 in years - and it appears to be a complete redesign built on top of a significantly more advanced underlying architecture.
The big new features:
- 1 Gbps Router Throughput - The BR1 Pro 5G has a much faster core CPU, capable of routing data at 1 Gbps. This is 10x faster than the 100 Mbps claimed by the older BR1, and even faster than the 400 Mbps MAX Transit Duo and MAX Transit 5G.
- 5G Cellular Radio - The 5G radio in the BR1 Pro 5G claims to be capable of peak theoretical performance of 4 Gbps down, 700 Mbps up - and supports 5G bands n1, n2, n3, n5, n28, n41, n66, n71, n77, n78, n79. Particularly of note - this includes the "C-Band" spectrum that will become increasingly important for truly next generation 5G performance in 2022. The BR1 5G also supports "standalone 5G" on bands n77, n78, n79. This means it should be somewhat more future-proof than the radio in the MAX Transit 5G, though we are still confirming the technical details and the underlying modem chipset.
- Cat-20 4G/LTE Radio - When not in 5G areas, the Cat-20 4G/LTE radio supports peak theoretical performance of 2 Gbps down and 150 Mbs up, and it supports all the band in use by the major carriers: B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B7, B8, B12, B13, B14, B17,B18, B19, B20, B25, B26, B28, B29, B30, B32,B34, B38, B39, B40, B41, B42, B46, B48, B66,B71.
- Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) - The MAX BR1 has a new dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) radio, more advanced than the Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) in the MAX Transit 5G and most other Pepwave routers. It does not however support the even newer Wi-Fi 6E standard, enabling 6 GHz Wi-Fi networking.
- 2.5 Gbps Ethernet WAN, 3x Ethernet Ports - The MAX BR1 has three gigabit Ethernet ports, one of which can run in 2.5 Gbps mode if you have another compatible device to connect with. This gives the MAX BR1 more ports, and faster Ethernet, than the MAX Transit.
And the MAX BR1 5G is $100 cheaper than the MAX Transit 5G too, priced at $899 vs $999. We were alerted on June 11th, 2021 that the pricing for the MAX BR1 5G will actually be $999 - the same as the MAX Transit 5G.
And then in early July Pepwave pulled all pre-orders for the MAX BR1 5G Pro due to supply shortages, and confirmed with us that the launch price will be $1,499 as a result.
The MAX Transit 5G however does have the ability to do connection bonding and act as an access point controller, two advanced features which the BR1 line has historically not been capable of. But unless you really need these rather specialized features - if you are craving a single-modem 5G router from Peplink, the MAX BR1 Pro 5G is probably the one to wait for.
Still No USB Port?!?
The MAX BR1 Pro 5G addresses most of our wish-list improvements for the BR1, but Peplink has NOT added a USB port to enable tethering to a second cellular device.
It boggles our mind that Peplink continues to leave USB off the BR1.
Pepwave AP ONE AX Lite
Speaking of that access point controller, Peplink is coming out with a new Access Point that is a significant step up from our current favorite AP One AC Mini.
The AP ONE AX Lite is still small and POE powered, but now has a Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax dual-band radio that should be even faster - capable of local network speeds of up to 574 Mbps on 2.4 GHz, and up to 1200 Mbps on 5 GHz.
When it becomes available this summer, the AP ONE AX Lite will be priced at $299.
The physically larger and even faster full-size AP ONE AX is also getting a big price drop - going from $349 to $199.
NOTE: We initially reported the AP One AX Lite was going to be priced less that the AP ONE AX, but Peplink corrected us and told us the price would be $299. This doesn't seem to make sense - and makes the AX Lite a less compelling product.
Though adding a secondary access point tends to be overkill for most RV installations, if you have a large boat or residential installation - using a router with an AP controller and these devices scattered around in various locations is a great way to spread your local Wi-Fi coverage into more areas than a single router alone is capable of.
Pepwave Puma 421 - 7-in-1
Pepwave is also coming out with a new addition to its line of Puma rooftop antennas - the Puma 421.
The Puma 421 has 4x4 MIMO cellular, GPS, and now 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi as well - making it a perfect compliment for the MAX BR1 5G and many other Peplink routers.
This new Puma 421 will be priced at $
209 $249 (updated 6/11/21) - and is physically larger (8.19” diameter & 2.28” height) than the Puma 401 (5.12” diameter & 1.42” height).
On paper the Puma 421 has higher gain at lower frequencies than the current Puma 401 - and it should deliver improved performance across the board.
It is great to see Peplink updating more of its product line to embrace modern cellular and Wi-Fi technologies.
The evolution of the Pepwave MAX BR1 is particularly compelling - and we suspect this may be the beginning of Peplink refreshing its entire product line with faster CPUs and Wi-Fi 6 radios.
We are slated to get review units of all of this hardware as soon as it is available, and we will be sharing our hands-on impressions with our site members when we do.
If you are interested in any of these - our friends at Mobile Must Have have begun taking pre-orders for all three now (and they offer exclusive MIA discounts too), and we expect other online retailers will have these products listed soon as well.
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