Home security has become a hot topic not just for tech experts but also for ordinary homeowners. This was made evident at CES 2017, in which not one but two antivirus companies introduced devices that protect smart home devices and prevent cybercriminals from getting into home networks. One of these companies is Symantec, which introduced its new device called Norton Core. It essentially functions as a Wi-Fi router, but it does so much more than that. It uses Symantec’s knowledge and experience with online security, along with advanced machine learning, to protect your home Wi-Fi system as well as the devices that are connected to it.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Norton Core is its unique design. Instead of the standard square or rectangular body that many Wi-Fi routers have, it’s shaped like a geodesic dome and looks like a piece of art or at least an attractive home decor. It comes in two colors — gold and gray — and can complement almost any interior design.
Symantec reveals that it chose this specific design to encourage homeowners to display the Norton Core out in the open instead of hiding it behind the TV or computer. This, in turn, means that the router can provide a strong signal to all smart appliances in the home.
One of the things that stop homeowners from getting a secure Wi-Fi router is the complicated setup process. This is particularly true for those who aren’t that tech-savvy and/or don’t have the time to figure out how to properly install their new router.
Symantec addresses this problem by ensuring that the Norton Core is easy to set up. It doesn’t have a desktop interface, so everything has to be done through a mobile app that’s compatible with iOS and Android devices. So, if you can use a smartphone or tablet, you won’t have any problems with getting the Norton Core up and running. According to Tom’s Guide, the router can be set up in as quick as 10 minutes, and it automatically updates its own software as soon as you turn it on.
The Norton Core is built with the 4×4 AC2600 MU-MIMO technology and comes with a 1.7 GHz dual-core processor along with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of flash storage. It supports dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi signals and can produce a maximum of 2.5 Gbps throughput speed. With these specs in mind, it’s easy to see that the Norton Core is faster and a lot more powerful compared to existing models of Wi-Fi routers-slash-security appliances.
One of the best things about the Norton Core is its Security Score feature. The concept is similar to credit scores: you’re given a score from 0 to 500, and the higher the score, the more secure your network is. The Security Score can fluctuate based on your activities; turning on port forwarding, for instance, can make you lose points. Of course, it will go down when there’s an actual threat to your network.
The Security Score is one of the first things you’ll see when you open the device’s dedicated app, so you’ll know how well your security system is performing at just a glance. The app also provides you with tips to raise your score and provide better protection to your smart devices.
If you have kids, you’ll love the parental controls offered by the Norton Core. These allow you to set up filters for individual devices on your network. For example, you can allow your teenager’s smartphone to connect to Facebook while blocking your nine-year old’s tablet from the social networking site. You can also set time limits for each device, which means you can turn off your kids’ internet connection during homework time or bedtime.
Another huge plus for the Norton Core is its ability to automatically update its own firmware. There’s no need for you to remember to download and install updates since the device will do these on its own. This gives you the assurance that it’s running on the latest and most secure firmware at all times. The Norton Core updates its software at night so it won’t interfere with your usage.
Currently, the Norton Core does not have mesh networking capabilities, so it relies on its signal strength alone to provide your devices with an internet connection. However, Symantec assures that the router is mesh-ready, which means a future software update can give it the ability to become a part of a bigger home Wi-Fi network.
Another disadvantage to consider is its price. The Norton Core isn’t exactly cheap; it will retail at $280 once it’s released but is offered at $200 for those who are willing to pre-order. It comes with a one-year subscription to the Norton Core Security Plus antivirus suite but, after 12 months, users will need to pay $10 a month for this service. Without it, the device can still function as a router but will no longer be able to provide network security.
The Norton Core will be available on the second or third quarter of 2017 to U.S. customers. Symantec has not revealed when the device would be available to Canada, the UK, and other countries.