As impressive as it can be to hear companies announce products every year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, there's always a question of whether or not the products being announced will ever actually ship. This year, Belkin's taking a different approach to its product announcements, in that the company is only showing off gadgets that will be available in the coming months.
In total, there are three new hardware products: A 2-in-1 MagSafe wireless charging stand, Soundform Freedom True Wireless Earbuds and a Linksys Mesh Wi-Fi system with support for Wi-Fi 6E. Additionally, Belkin is announcing the expansion of Linksys Aware, a service that leverages Wi-Fi signals to detect motion inside a home or office.
The new 2-in-1 MagSafe charger (pictured above) works with Apple's iPhone 12 lineup, leveraging the magnet in the back of the phone to hold it in place on the stand while wirelessly charging it. There's an additional Qi charging pad on the base of the stand, where you can charge your AirPods or AirPods Pro.
The 2-in-1 stand will begin shipping in March or April and will cost $99.95. Right now, Belkin is shipping a 3-in-1 MagSafe charging stand with a spot for your iPhone 12, an Apple Watch and AirPods if you don't want to wait.
Also launching around that same timeframe is Belkin's latest completely wireless earbuds, the Soundform Freedom True Wireless Earbuds. The buds feature 8-hours of battery life, with the included charging case adding another 20 hours of power.
Add in environmental noise cancellation, AptX support and Bluetooth 5.2 and these earbuds start to look appealing.
One notable feature Belkin announced is that the earbuds will work with Apple's Find My platform, allowing iPhone, iPad and Mac users to track down lost earbuds. Apple had previously announced it would open up the platform to third parties, but we're yet to see it actually roll out. With Belkin estimating that the earbuds will be available in March or April, it's safe to assume that's when we'll also see the new Find My functionality launch.
Unfortunately, Belkin isn't ready to announce the pricing info, but did say it expects it to be under $150.
Lastly, Belkin is taking the wraps off its first Linksys mesh system with Wi-Fi 6E support. The AXE8400 Wi-Fi 6E system will launch in the US during the spring or summer of 2021, with prices ranging from $449.99 for a single access point to $1,199.99 for a three-pack.
Wi-Fi 6E uses the newly opened 6GHz band, freeing up bandwidth and overcrowding that can be commonplace with current 2.4/5Ghz systems. There's a 5Gbps WAN port on each unit, along with four Gigabit LAN ports and a USB 3.0 port. Each node can handle up to 65 devices, covering 3,000 square feet.
Belkin promises that all devices, regardless of support for Wi-Fi 6E, will be able to take advantage of the improved network performance.
Bundled in with the Linksys Wi-Fi 6E announcement is the expansion of Linksys Aware to work with Wemo smart plugs and Belkin smart speakers. Aware uses Wi-Fi signal to monitor for motion in your home, and by adding more devices that the platform can connect to and use as remote monitors, the accuracy should also see a boost. An update will roll out for Linksys Aware in March or April. It'll be free for 90 days, after which you'll pay $2.99 a month or $24.99 a year.