ExpressVPN has released its own VPN router. Dubbed Aircove, it will be the first Wi-Fi router to hit the market with VPN service software installed. It goes on sale today, September 22, 2022, in the United States for the promotional price of $169—with the rest of the world to follow, beginning with plans to launch in Europe in the first half of 2023, at roughly the same price.
A router designed for ExpressVPN
Aircove has a number of selling points that negate many of the reasons why you shouldn’t use a VPN router. One of the most interesting for technophobes is the fact that it is ready to use right out of the box. ExpressVPN promises that there will be little to no setup involved.
Anyone who has ever struggled with upgrading VPN firmware to a router is probably now breathing a sigh of relief. Even when a router has been pre-flashed, there is still quite a bit of configuration involved, something Aircove will apparently make a thing of the past. The only question is why nobody has developed anything like this before.
Easily switch servers and group devices
That’s not the only barrier to entry that Aircove will remove. Another big problem with VPN routers is that they are difficult to set up – you usually just set up a VPN server to connect to and leave it at that as switching is a hassle. However, ExpressVPN allows you to use a specialized menu to select and configure servers.
That’s pretty nifty in and of itself, but what makes it even cooler is that you can set up different servers for different devices. Called “device groups,” this feature allows you, for example, to put all your streaming devices in a good location to watch Netflix, while all your smartphones are set to a faster nearby server.
Having Aircove ready to deploy right out of the box and making servers easier to set up and change is a huge boost in usability and will probably make it much more attractive for new users to start using VPN routers. However, even for veterans, Aircove is an interesting alternative to existing routers.
Air Chamber Specifications
At a price of $189.90 ($169 is the promotional launch price), Aircove is also a good option for anyone who wants a cheap VPN router. Most of the best WiFi routers that also allow VPN use are much more expensive than that. For example, the Asus AX6000 (RT-AX88U) costs half again, while the Linksys WRT3200ACM could cost up to twice as much.
The Aircove is not only a good deal compared to other VPN-enabled routers, it can perform quite well on its own merits. It’s a WiFi 6 router, which means it’s as fast as most others on the market, offering speeds of up to 600Mbps for 2.4GHz connections and 1200Mbps for 5GHz connections. It also has good range and it can cover an area of up to 1,600 square feet.
There are likely other benefits to using a router that was built expressly to host VPN software as well. According to the ExpressVPN press release, Aircove can host over 100 simultaneous connections with no performance issues, which means you can pretty much connect as many devices as you want without the VPN slowing down.
When it comes to security, Aircove has earned the seal of approval from Cure53, a well-known and well-respected cybersecurity firm. As it stands, it sounds like you can use Aircove without having to worry about your router being hijacked or your traffic being spied on.
As a bonus, Aircove will not be tied to your ExpressVPN subscription. In an email, the company informed us that it can also be used as a regular router, although it is not clear why you would buy a VPN router and not use it as a VPN router.
A router for the future?
Overall, Aircove seems to be an interesting addition to the home cybersecurity market. At the advertised price, it seems like a pretty good buy for anyone who wants to add a little more privacy to their internet connections without having to worry about turning on their VPN on each and every device.
If you’re curious about Aircove and want to try it out for yourself, you can purchase it through ExpressVPN if you’re based in the US. At launch, there’s no exact indication of when the promotional price of $169 will change to $189.