When it comes to so-called 'smart tech', it is mostly something I would describe as intrusive. Yet, some tech can be just the opposite, safe, private, and useful. One such things is a router! Well, I hear you, a router? Smart tech? Now think about it, every device in your house goes over the router, right? So having a router that can do more than just provide a connection to your internet could be considered smart. Such a piece of tech comes from GL.iNet
Their flagship model is Flint which will be released this month, and has Wi-Fi 6 support. I use it at the moment in a setup with Velica (GL-B2200). It's a mesh router.
GL.iNet has all its setup in open-source. This means it runs an open-source software based on OpenWrt. This is pre-installed with OpenVPN, WireGuard Client and Server, one click setup is possible with Mullvad VPN and manually with every WireGuard or OpenVPN provider.
The speed is almost identical at my home as when I wasn't using a VPN. You can also choose Tor as an option on this router. However, I, personally, would not use Tor router widely, but by device. This said, it is a very nice option to have.
The router also has an internet kill switch which means that if your VPN goes down the Internet stays offline until the router reconnects to the VPN.
You can also choose if all your devices are connected to the VPN or only selected devices. Smart, isn't it? ;)
The router also comes with AdGuard Home pre-installed. This means you can maintain blocklists, block and unblock traffic and set your own preferred DNS.
If you don't choose to use AdGuard Home (but why wouldn't you?) you can set your own DNS in the DNS settings menu. This includes NextDNS pre-installed.
These routers cover everything when it comes to privacy and you don't need to flash or study anything to get it running.
However, the biggest problem some people face is the coverage at the house. With mesh technology, some routers including the Velica have you covered. Not just that, the mesh router nodes have almost the same speed as the main router.
You can see and maintain, block, devices etc. from one single router hub. Additionally, you can switch a VPN connection on the fly - which is useful if you watch a football match that is blocked in the country you just had as your router VPN ;) I learned this last weekend when we had real trouble watching R*****s TV.
File sharing on the device is possible and the Velica has an 8GB storage built-in.
Firmware updates can be automatic or manual. If you chose automatic, the firmware will be installed on all your nodes and devices.
I am usually not someone who recommends buying products, and this is by no means an article with a referral link, but I've been using GL.iNet for years and can recommend the products because I use them daily without issues.
Check out GL.iNet travel routers, MiFi and mesh routers as it is a game changer for everyone who wants to have privacy at home, yet don't have the time or knowledge to flash a router the way GL.iNet does. The addition of AdGuard Home is unique and impressive.