Netgear was among the first manufacturers to launch routers using the new 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard, also known as the “Wi-Fi 6” consumer standard, a Wi-Fi technology for your network system with the brand new Orbi Wi-Fi 6.
The main router connects to an existing modem or router for your Internet connection and uses a unique high-speed Ethernet port that can reach up to 2.5 Gbps.
It also has four extra Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired connections, as well as a secondary “satellite” unit that you can place in another room to extend the range and reliability of your Wi-Fi network.
Price and Availability
Along with this top-notch performance, a premium price, starting at GBP 700/710 (approx. AUD 1000), for this two-piece kit is suitable for homes up to 5000 square feet.
When the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi network system was first released in 2016, a package that included an Orbi router and a nearly identical satellite device that transmits its signal through your home sold for $400, now Netgear is ready for it. Back with the redesigned Orbi system, and the price of both plans has dropped to $149.
The price of the Wi-Fi network system is attractive and is probably aimed at avoiding increased competition in the network category. One of those competitors is Eero, an Amazon-owned manufacturer that has just launched a new secure network system.
The prices for this system have been cut in half from $499 to $249 for three plans. The Orbi box, which is now available in the US, UK and Australia, comes with a “router” and a “satellite” unit, resulting in additional costs.
Multiple satellites can join the network system for an additional $249, $249, or $329, so the bill can add up, depending on the size of your household. The system would cover 4,000 square feet or 370 square feet.
Design and Installation
Although known as a single product, the Netgear Orbi technically consists of two parts: the Orbi router and the Orbi satellite. Both devices weighing 896 grams of adorable are almost identical pylons made of matte white plastic.
Their only differences are in which connectors are connected to each unit, and the router has a blue tip compared to the pure white colour of the satellite.
On the back of the router, there is a sync button, three Ethernet LAN ports (for connecting other internet devices), one WAN Ethernet port (for your gateway or modem connection), one USB 2.0 network connection port-connected storage and standard DC connection.
Even without the Orbi app available for Android and iPhone, setting up what Netgear calls Orbi’s three-way network system is surprisingly straightforward.
Netgear has more specific instructions, but the setup is basically to connect the Orbi router to a power supply and your modem or gateway, then place the satellite in a more central location in your home and connect to a power source.
Then after pressing the “Sync” button, the communication will start on each device, and the magic will happen. Underneath these separate plastic covers are LED rings that glow in a variety of colours and pulses to show how well your connection is working.
A solid blue ring indicates a stable and robust connection, an orange circle suggests a “normal” link (that is, approaching a satellite), and a magenta ring indicates a poor connection.
- Wireless connectivity: three bands 802.11a / b / g / n / ac (2.4 GHz 802.11b / g / n, 5 GHz 802.11a / n / ac); AC3000 (1733 + 866 + 400 Mbps); Compatible with MU-MIMO
- Memory: 512MB RAM
- Storage: 4 GB flash
- Beamforming: implicitly and explicitly for the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands
- Ports: 4 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports (1 WAN + 3 LAN for the router, 4 LAN for satellite), 1 USB 2.0 port
- Measurements: 6.67 x 2.36 x 8.89 inches (16.9 x 5.9 x 22.5cm; WxDxH) each
- Weight: 889 g (1.96 lbs)
In a single-user proximity test, the Orbi router achieved a very respectable 480 Mbps, and the satellite-delivered an equally impressive 470 Mbps.
The Luma router was delivering 457 Mbps, but its satellite hit 106 Mbps, and Eero managed to hit a max rating of 188.7 Mbps from any module.
The Ubiquiti Amplifi HD obtained 459 Mbps in the proximity test when connected to a router and 193 Mbps when connected to its most powerful satellite.
The Orbi router and its satellite broadcast three different bands of Wi-Fi signals: one at 2.4 GHz and one at 5 GHz, then another 5 GHz band to which regular access is denied.
Our attempts to isolate the bandwidth in the router setup, to compare Orbi properly, failed to connect to a laptop with both bands enabled.
This can be easily fixed on a Windows 10 device by setting up the Wi-Fi radio through Device Manager, but I don’t seem to like Orbi to test it in his settings, despite being given permission.
If you accidentally turn off or lose power a router or satellite, it will be more difficult for both products to return to normal than they should be.
Whether you sync them or the connected devices recognize the network, the problem is so much that hard resetting both devices using their pin undo buttons can be faster.
All in all, the Netgear Orbi is a fantastic solution to our home Wi-Fi issues, so much so that we are concerned that we will have to return this device. While it’s probably twice as expensive as any router you’ve ever bought, Orbi’s benefits justify the price.
For those who own large homes, or even small homes or apartments with thick walls, Netgear Orbi can pair your entire property with a strong and consistent Wi-Fi signal. Once we see what Orbi can do, it will be difficult for us to return to the Plantation Portal.
Home Wi-Fi systems offer a simple alternative to the more sophisticated router/extender solutions used to cover your home with wireless coverage and, currently, Netgear’s AC3000 High-Performance Three Band Wi-Fi System (RBK50).
Orbi is the best of the flowering harvest. The router and satellite performed better in single-user measurements than the Luma, Eero, and Ubiquiti systems, and the Orbi system also offers more connectivity and LAN management options.